There aren't many foodstuffs for which people will brave a steamy, sunny 98-degree parking lot. Fortunately, burgers are 15 of them, at least in the case of this year's Burger Bash.
Fifteen restaurants donated their time and braved the heat to prepare juicy sliders for more than 500 attendees at the sold-out event at Uptown Park. It was Houstonia's third year of beefy mania, so organizers had the foresight to invite Greek spring water company Theoni to keep burger lovers cool.
Judges, including Houston Texans offensive lineman Jeff Allen, KHOU traffic and weather reporter Darby Douglas, EDENS Director of Culinary Strategy Richie Brandenburg (formerly corporate chef for José Andrés' ThinkFoodGroup), me and Dr. Carlo Villarreal, manager of Psychological Services for the Therapy & Psychological Services Department at The Harris County Children's' Assessment Center. The event raised more than $1400 for the Assessment Center.
But the panel of judges didn't have the only say. Attendees exercised their rights with the People's Choice prizes. Union Kitchen's tangy Texas Ranger Whiskey Dipping Sauce won the general vote among the 11 dipping sauces entered.
Becks Prime won the people's hearts with one of the day's simplest combos, known as the KHOU Burger. With just a well-grilled patty with guacamole, bacon and a slice of cheddar on a sesame seed bun, the burger stalwart proved that sometimes it's best not to overcomplicate things.
Little J's Bar was the judge's pick for best presentation thanks to a banh mi-style burger presented in a Chinese take-out container with a fortune and a party popper. The panel's favorite sauce belonged to the Burger Joint, which presented a creamy, smoky take on the whiskey dipping sauce.
The judges had a consensus when it came to discussing the best burger. Though we really liked Union Kitchen's Double Barrel Burger with smoked brisket, the winner was clear: Urban Eats. The Washington Avenue restaurant served up a slightly amped-up version of its Cowboy Burger, featuring an alderwood-smoked Salisbury steak burger stuffed with aged Provolone and topped with cheddar, jalapeño-bacon jam, thick-cut bacon, crispy onion strings and spicy barbecue sauce.
Despite the stacked description, the combination tasted deceptively simple, perhaps proving the opposite dictum to Beck's Prime. Sometimes, complicating things a not is simply the right thing to do.