JQ’s Famous Home-grilled Burgers (Nashville, TN)

Reviewed by: Kate

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With the 4th of July right around the corner I thought I would do a slightly different review than normal. As Americans, it just wouldn’t be the 4th of July without a cookout complete with burgers, hotdogs, and if you are from where I am from, Spiedies (that’s a topic for another day). Since most people tend to grill their own burgers in the summer, I thought I would review a homemade burger in honor of the Fourth, and ‘Merica.

To be honest, for some reason I never think home-grilled burgers are as good as going to a burger joint. I don’t know why that is, and it is probably completely psychological, but it’s true. My expectations for a burger grilled at home are just lower than that of a restaurants’. That’s why when my friend, JQ, told me he was making his famous burgers I expected a mediocre burger at best (sorry JQ, this has nothing to do with how I view your cooking skills. He’s a great cook, ladies and gentleman).

These burgers are INCREDIBLE. I told JQ from the start that if I was going to review his burgers, I was going to have to be honest and wasn’t going to say they were great just because he is my friend. So I promise I am being completely unbiased when I tell you these are the best home-grilled burgers I’ve ever had. Burgers should be about the meat. Kevin and I have mentioned in other posts that although toppings can really enhance a burger, the meat should always be the star in any great burger. The flavor of JQ’s burger is off the charts! It’s so well seasoned, that I literally didn’t put anything else on my burger. No ketchup, no mustard, no lettuce or onion or pickles. Just the burger and the bun, and to be completely honest it didn’t even need the bun. The meat was the star in these homemade burgers.

The thing that makes these burgers so unique is the asian-inspired flavor. JQ’s recipe is secret for now, but whatever he puts in his marinade makes a really unique flavor with a slight kick.

If I had to criticize something, it would probably be the Kroger buns, but I dont really feel like I can give him too hard a time about the buns since he was grilling at home. Now if he was opening a burger joint, I would suggest he spend more time considering the bun. And as I previously stated, his burgers were so good they didn’t even really need the bun.

One last comment on the quality of these burgers. I was over at JQ and his wife, Chandler’s, house recently and they offered me a leftover burger. Can we all agree that burgers are not as good leftover? I was hungry though, so I accepted the free meal. The burger was just as good a day old as it was freshly made. Now THAT says something.

Do any of you have special burger recipes of your own you would like to share? I would love to hear what makes your homemade burgers unique.

Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone has a wonderful, burger-filled, Fourth of July with friends and family! God Bless ‘Merica! 🙂

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Burger Republic (Nashville, TN)

Reviewed by: Kevin & Kate

Kevin happened to be in Nashville last weekend for a wedding, so we decided we needed to embrace this rare opportunity for a double review! We wanted to try a place neither of us had tried before, so we decided to give Burger Republic a shot. Located in Lenox Village, it was a bit of a drive (about 20 mins south of Nashville), but we were hoping we would find it worth the drive.

From our quick five minute research online beforehand, we were really excited to try this place out. I mean craft beer, gourmet burgers, and spiked milkshakes? What’s not to love? From the other reviews I saw online, it looked like it was going to be a good choice.

This is a burger blog, and as such, you might guess that of the five senses, we pay the most attention to “taste”.  How does the patty taste?  How does the bun taste?  How do the pickles taste?  And you’d be right.  If you’re a burger place and your pickles taste like a dumpster, we will judge you poorly (especially Kevin, who loves pickles).  But burgers, as with anything, don’t happen in a vacuum.  For this reason, if we deem something regarding the other four senses as offensive, (i.e. seating customers on waterbeds instead of chairs, illuminating your restaurant exclusively with strobe lights) we will also review you harshly.  Burger Republic did not seat us on a waterbed.  Their crime was much more heinous.

What few good Nickelback jokes there ever were have already been told and retold on the internet, so we’ll spare you the effort and leave it at this – we do not enjoy the music of Nickelback or, for that matter, any member of the Butt Rock genre.  And we can safely say Nashville, as a city full of music snobs, shares this view.  So what did Burger Republic force onto our party for the entirety of our visit?  Butt Rock.  So much Butt Rock.  We could forgive them if it were just happenstance, an outlier in the midst of some bland “80’s, 90’s, Now”-style radio station.  But this crime was premeditated.  we heard four Nickelback songs in the span of an hour, peppered between classics such as Hinder and Daughtry.  Strikes two and three.

What made it worse was that we had to wait a while for our food. Strike four.

Kevin’s thoughts on the food:

Once I recovered from the aural assault, I settled in to enjoy my food.  I started with Tater Tot Fondue, an appetizer that the rest of my party enjoyed more than I did.  After poking around the fondue, I ordered the Tennessee Burger, topped with Maple Glazed Benton’s Bacon, Jack Daniel’s Honey BBQ Glaze, American Cheese, Memphis Spice Dusted Tobacco Onions, and Smoked Tomato Ketchup.  For those unfamiliar with Benton’s Bacon, it is a Tennessee based bacon that the restaurants of Nashville have fallen absolutely in love with, and for good reason – Benton’s has been recognized in Esquire as the world’s best bacon as recently as 2009.  Obviously, Esquire isn’t necessarily the world’s foremost authority on bacon, but it doesn’t take a bacon scientist to know that Benton raises some truly delicious bacon.  This bacon was one of the highlights of the burger.  Another highlight of my meal was the chocolate-peanut butter milkshake, spiked with peanut butter cup infused vodka that I ordered.  It was perfect.

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Unfortunately, the burger itself wasn’t as good as the milkshake that accompanied it.  The patty itself was small and overwhelmed by the bold flavors of the bacon and sweet, smoky BBQ sauce.  In fact, it was even overpowered by the bun.  And while the bun was nearly perfect, and the toppings sweet and enjoyable, I couldn’t help but feel like I missed out on the main course.  The burger patty should be the star of the show, but it was lost in the foray.  This was the Baz Luhrman of burgers, all style and little substance, with no Leonardo DiCaprio to save it from itself.  (Great Gatsby, anyone?)

Kate’s thoughts on the food:

I ordered the Hawaiian Burger, topped with grilled pineapple, grilled onion, avocado, and dijonnaise. While the toppings were all delicious and fresh, I was disappointed in the flavor of the patty itself. I could tell the quality of the meat was good, but it was overall just kind of bland. As we pointed out earlier, “taste” is important to these burger enthusiasts! The quality of the bun was also really good. I enjoyed it for the first few minutes until it disintegrated into the burger from all the grease. Don’t get me wrong- I love juicy burgers, but a soggy bun is just gross.

I arrived a little later than the rest of the group, so I missed out on the Tater Tot Fondue. I DID order tots with my burger though, and I will say they were some pretty stinkin’ good tots! I’m not usually much of a tots fan, but these tots were nice and crispy.

I paired my burger with a Yazoo Dos Perros, which was delicious. In fact, their craft beer selection was great. They had over 20 beers on draft.
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Overall, we felt these were amateur burgers paired with a great, if expensive, milkshake and a disastrous playlist.  There are simply too many good burger places in Nashville to justify us ever going back to Burger Republic.

Kevin’s Star Rating:

flavor

Burger Flavor:  2/5

bunBun Goodness: 5/5

valueBurger Value: 2/5

toppingsToppings: 4/5

xfactorX Factor: 1/5

3star
Kate’s Star Rating:

flavor

Burger Flavor:  2/5

bunBun Goodness: 3/5

valueBurger Value: 2/5

toppingsToppings: 4/5

xfactorX Factor: 1/5

2star

Burger Up (Nashville, TN)

Reviewed by: Kate

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I have heard rave reviews about Burger Up located in Nashville’s 12th South since it opened in 2010, but there was always something that kept me from trying one of their burgers myself. I had heard their burgers were pricey, and as a college student my budget was tight. Then in 2012 Burger Up temporarily closed to deal with a family crisis. I decided it was time I give them a try back in December (especially since I was starting this blog!), and I have since been back more recently.

Both times I have gone, there has been a wait, which I expected from such a popular burger joint. I didn’t mind waiting, but the problem was there isn’t a good place to wait. There are a few small benches outside, but waiting inside isn’t really an option unless you want to feel like you are staring at people while they are trying to eat. In fact, although I like the modern and eclectic atmosphere, it just felt a little claustrophobic. The tables are really close together; it’s hard to even walk through the restaurant.

Both times I’ve been I ordered the Black and Blue Burger, which consisted of a beef patty topped with crumbled blue cheese, blackening seasoning, red onion, and arugula. It was delicious! The arugula and crumbled blue cheese complimented each other really well. Burger Up only uses local farmers to supply their meat, so the quality of their beef is really good.

Although the beef was high quality, the toppings were really fresh, and the meat itself was seasoned really well, I do have some complaints. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that meat:bun ratio is really important to me. There was way too much bun for this patty. In fact, the patty should have been bigger in my opinion. The first time I ate at Burger Up I left feeling slightly hungry. I don’t have a huge stomach to begin with, so that says something! I mentioned earlier that before going to Burger Up I had heard their burgers were pricey. They range from $9-$13, which really is pretty typical for a gourmet burger place. I am willing to pay that much for a good burger, but not when I leave hungry.

As a side note (pun intended), I was disappointed in their sides. The first time I went I ordered the sweet potato fries. They were cut pretty thick, and weren’t consistently cooked.  The second time I went to Burger Up I decided to try their fried vidalia onion tower (aka onion rings). There was too much breading on the onion rings, and I just wasn’t interested in eating them. My friend ordered the truffle fries, and she gave me a few to try. They were ok, but I wasn’t impressed. 

I really wish I could give Burger Up a better review. I would definitely recommend it to a friend, it just didn’t end my search for the best burger in Nashville.

flavor

Burger Flavor:  4/5

bunBun Goodness: 3/5

valueBurger Value: 3/5

toppingsToppings: 5/5

xfactorX Factor: 3/5

4star

Fido (Nashville, TN)

Reviewed by: Kate

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If there is anything Nashville is NOT lacking in, it’s coffee shops. In fact, that’s one of my favorite things about this city. There are plenty of locally owned coffee hang outs, and all of them are unique. One of my favorite local hang outs is Fido.  I spent many late nights in college hanging out at this coffee shop while working on one of many design projects.

You are probably wondering why I am writing about a coffee shop on a burger blog, right? I mean, who goes to a coffeeshop to get a burger? Well, Fido is not JUST a coffeehouse. As it’s website describes it, “Fido blurs the line between coffeehouse and restaurant.” Fido is known just as much for their food as they are for their coffee. I have lived in Nashville for almost 4 years now, hung out in Fido countless times, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized they have “The Local Burger”. One of my good chums, Jessie, was visiting Nashville a few weeks back, and we found ourselves killing time at Fido. It was around dinner time, so we decided to get something to eat. When I saw they had a burger, I obviously had to try it.

The Local Burger uses local meat, as the name suggests (always a plus on my list). It features local beef and lamb topped with Tennessee cheddar, caramelized fennel, fig aioli, fried onion, pickle, lettuce all on a bun. Man, oh man was it delicious!  The flavors of the beef and lamb complimented each other very well, and all of the toppings were fresh and added so much to the overall burger experience. The burger was served with a fig aioli sauce on the side, which I personally appreciated because I was a little weary of it.  I had nothing to worry about though, because the aioli sauce was delicious.

The burger comes with your choice of side, so I got the “amazing fries”. Their name did not disappoint! They were thin, crispy fries- fried to perfection. They were the perfect compliment to this delicious local burger, but they tasted especially good dipped in the fig aioli sauce.  As Jessie described perfectly, “the unexpected kick of the aioli dipping sauce coupled with the satisfying crunch of the amazing shoestring cut fries provided the perfect balance to this hardy, yet sophisticated local burger.”

If you are ever in Nashville looking for a good burger, don’t let the coffehouse atmosphere of Fido make you judge their burger too quickly. It’s definitely worth a try!

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flavor

Burger Flavor:  4/5

bunBun Goodness: 3/5

valueBurger Value: 3/5

toppingsToppings: 5/5

xfactorX Factor: 4/5

4star

The Pharmacy (Nashville, TN)

Reviewed by: Kate

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I heard about The Pharmacy after returning to Nashville in August, and decided I better give this Burger Parlor and Beer Garden a try. This relatively new establishment is located in East Nashville behind The Holland House. It’s a fairly small restaurant with limited inside seating, but they do have a good sized outdoor patio if it’s a nice night.

The Pharmacy serves 100% TN beef, or turkey if you prefer. I’ve been to The Pharmacy twice now, and both times I stuck with the traditional Pharmacy Burger: yellow cheddar, iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, onion, pickle, ketchup, and mustard. While it was a good, solid burger, I will probably try one of their more unique burgers next time. The Pharmacy Burger just wasn’t that memorable. I’ve heard great things about their more unique burgers, such as the Mission City Burger, which features guacamole, pico de gallo, and black beans.

One of my pet peeves is a bun that falls apart as you are trying to bite into your mouth-watering burger. This bun held up great! The bun (made specifically for The Pharmacy by local bakery Provence) was lightly toasted, and tasted so fresh and wonderful. It held everything together, and was the perfect meat:bread ratio.

Each burger comes with your choice of side. I coupled my burger with the sweet potato fries, and while they were good, I’ve had better. They just tasted like maybe they had been sitting around a little too long.

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In addition to unique, hand crafted burgers, The Pharmacy also offers a wide variety of craft beers, and homemade sodas called phosphates. They actually have an old fashioned soda rail, and make their own orange, ginger, lemon and mint sodas with all natural ingredients. I ordered a Yazoo Pale Ale, but my friend ordered a lemon phosphate and it was delicious!

What I really liked about this place was the atmosphere. It’s just a fun place to hang out and enjoy a reasonably priced, gourmet burger with friends. Although you usually have to wait a little bit before getting a table, the service is really fast and attentive once you are seated.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed both of my visits to the Pharmacy, and will definitely be back. It’s a solid burger at a reasonable price.

flavor

Burger Flavor:  3.5/5

bunBun Goodness: 4.5/5

valueBurger Value: 4/5

toppingsToppings: 3/5

xfactorX Factor: 5/5

4star