The PittsBurgher Burger & Music Festival

30 Sep

A few weeks ago I saw advertisements for the PittsBurgher burger & music festival at the Rivers Casino, and thought “oh, that sounds fun.” Then a deal came up on LivingSocial for half off tickets, and I said “I’M IN!” Competition for the best burger in the burgh? Well yes I’d love to participate!

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Conspicuously absent from the contestants were the big names in the Pittsburgh burger scene. Tessaro’s, BRGR, Burgatory, FatHeads and most of the “usual” Pittsburgh burger places weren’t there. I don’t know if they were approached and declined, or weren’t approached at all. But without them, I’m not sure the event can really claim to seek out the “best” burger in Pittsburgh. The absence of these big names did give some lesser known restaurants a moment in the sun, so I liked the opportunity to check out the burgers from places like Bonnie & Clyde’s in Wexford and Melange Bistro, that I may have otherwise passed over if the known favorites were there.

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The Biz Burger, topped with BBQ sauce and fried onions and jalapenos

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The Classic American Cheeseburger from the River’s Casino.  I’m not a fan of caraway, so I picked that off the bun, and the burger was delicious.  I’m continually impressed by the high quality of the Rivers Casino food.  I expect it to look fancy but taste bad, and each time I’ve had it (at this event, at the Pittsburgh Best Restaurant Party, and the Afterparty for the Best Restaurant Party), it has actually been very good.  I feel like going to dinner at a steakhouse in a casino is very gaudy, but I’m tempted to try it, as I suspect it will far surpass my expectations.  The Casino also offered a dessert cheeseburger, with deep fried chocolate something or other, but I’m sorry, that did not look appealing to me.

I sampled with an open mind, but my favorite truly was the Shipwreck Burger from Wingharts Burger & Whiskey Bar. Oh man I love that burger. If you aren’t familiar with this buttery, decadent delicacy, you are missing out sorely. It’s wonderfully greasy, due to being slathered in brie, onions, and arugula. It’s so rich that it should be eaten alone (don’t get fries with it, that is simply TOO much). I felt kind of lame picking a burger I was already familiar with as my favorite, but it really really was.

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WANT TO EAT ALL THE SHIPWRECK BURGERS.

The other burgers were nothing to sneeze at. They all respectably held their own. The burger samples were generous–some places handed out sliders, others gave full sized burgers sliced in half. It was a LOT of food.

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Melange served its burgers on delicious, soft pretzel buns.   I was highly impressed by how good the bun was.  However, the patty got lost in there, and the taste of the patty itself was not memorable.  If they kicked up the quality of the patty a bit, this would be a really great burger.

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The Bonnie & Clyde burger, topped with slaw (sadly mayo based, vinegar based would be better) and a pierogi.  A pierogi is always a nice touch.  These pierogies were fried and hard, so frying to a soft consistency would be a big improvement.  However, all around, this was a pretty good burger.

I failed to take a picture of Mr. Beez’ favorite- the cheeseburger from Cain’s Saloon in Mt. Lebanon. I agreed that the burger was tasty and flavorful. It wasn’t greasy, and it was not gristly. It was a straightforward burger, but accomplished its simplicity well.

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I was SO ridiculously stuffed after the event that I didn’t eat for the rest of the day (and there were a few booths I didn’t even make it to!) For a first time event, it went pretty well. As we were getting ready to leave, the tent was getting very very full, so next time around they may need to adjust the space or setup.  We didn’t stay through the end, so I don’t know who won.  If YOU know, please do share!

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You know you’re in Pittsburgh when….

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