Reviewed by: Kate
Last week, Nashville Lifestyles hosted the first annual Battle of the Burger competition in the Gulch. Over 400 people showed up to sample 11 burgers from local restaurants and vote for their favorite. As a burger enthusiast and burger blogger, I had to go! Participating restaurants included:
I thought I had tried a lot of burgers in Nashville, but prior to this event I had only tried Burger Republic’s burger from this list. I was excited to get to try and compare several new burgers at once. The Gulch holds several Pine Street Festivals, but this was the first one I attended so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Admission was $20 and that included sampling of as many burgers as you wanted, a free Goose Island beer, free burger swag at various booths, and there was lively entertainment from the Hard Rock Cafe. Each restaurant served their burgers differently. Some created slider versions of their burgers, while others created full size burgers and then cut them in half for sampling. Let’s just say these samples were NOT bite size. They were pretty decent portions, and admittedly I was too full by the end to try ALL of the burgers. I had a feeling this might be the case when I got there, so I was strategic in which burgers I tried. Here are my thoughts on several of the burgers I sampled:
Riffs Fine Street Food: Riffs started off as a local Nashville food truck, but they recently opened a cafe at Highland Ridge as well. Their burger is just one of many food items on their menu. They have quite the variety from burgers to Korean BBQ Tacos. The burger they chose to feature used beef from Porter Road Butcher. The burger was topped with deep fried pimento cheese (yes, you read that correctly. DEEP FRIED PIMENTO!), green tomato and red onion pickles, Riffs animal sauce, all on their housemade brioche bun. While this burger was delicious and very flavorful, it was just a little much. The ratio of everything was off, but to be fair this may have been contributed to the slider version of the burger. The flavors of the toppings took over and it was hard to actually taste the beef itself, which we have mentioned time and time again, should always be the star.
Music City Tippler: I had heard all about Music City Tippler from my good friend and ex roommate, Lauren. Lauren loves donuts like I love burgers, and Music City Tippler has a burger that has 2 glazed donuts as buns. While this sounded a little too rich (and sweet) for me, I felt I had to at least try it. They converted this burger into a slider version with mini donuts as the bun to sample. It was topped with bacon that was cooked with jalapenos to add a nice spice, homemade pickles, onions and pimento cheese. While all the individual parts were delicious (especially the jalapeno bacon), it was just way too hard to eat and didn’t translate well to a slider size. It was nearly impossible to take a bite of everything at once without the entire burger falling apart. I could tell that if I could take a full bite of everything together there would be a nice contrast between the sweetness of the donut and the spice of the bacon. Lauren was actually with me, and she said this mini version didn’t do the real donut burger justice. I guess I will just have to go try the full size version myself!
M.L. Rose: I have been wanting to try ML Rose for a while now. They have two Nashville locations- one on Franklin Pike and one on Charlotte Ave. in west Nashville. It’s a restaurant that specializes in two of my favorite things: burgers and craft beer. M.L. Rose chose to feature their Nash Vegas burger for the Battle of the Burger competition. This burger has a sweet potato bun and was topped with pimento cheese (pimento cheese seemed to be a theme. What is it with southerners and pimento cheese??), crispy tabasco onions, and BBQ sauce. It was really tasty. I don’t know what spices they put in their meat, but it had a subtle sweet taste. The sweet taste of the beef paired with the sweet potato bun contrasted nicely with spicy onions which were perfectly crispy. I’m excited to go to M.L Rose in the future to try some of their other burgers and craft beer.
Hoss’ Loaded Burgers: Hoss’ is another Nashville food truck. They specialize in gourmet stuffed burgers, and their beef is 100% grass fed and local. I honestly didn’t have high expectations for Hoss’. In my mind I was thinking, “Aww this small little food truck is competing with all these well known Nashville restaurants”. Boy, was I wrong! Hoss’ burger blew all the other burgers at the competition out of the park. The Jackelope burger, like Riff’s burger, used Porter Road grass-fed beef. It was topped with pepper jack cheese,, benton’s bacon, avocado, and house made jalapeno honey mustard, all on a hawaiian bun. YUM! There was a nice spice from the jalapeno honey mustard and pepper jack cheese, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The patty was one of the best, most well-seasoned patties I’ve ever tasted. It had a peppery taste that reminded me of the homemade beef jerky my dad always made growing up. I will definitely be visiting this food truck in the future to try one of their stuffed burgers. While Lauren and I both agreed Hoss’ was the best burger we tried, Burger Republic won the battle. You can read Kevin and I’s thoughts on Burger Republic here. Hoss’ did come in second place though, followed by Kitchen Notes (located in the Omni Hotel).
To read more about Nashville Lifestyles Battle of the Burger, visit their website. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to next years battle! As always, leave comments in the comment section below. We would love to hear your thoughts on these burgers!