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The Contenders: The Best of the TC

Which of these great burgers will make its way into the Burger League of Champions?

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  • BEST MONSTER CHALLENGE: Meat Your Maker @ Burger Jones
  • BEST VEGGIE BURGER: Veggie Burger @ Icehouse
  • BEST FOR RARE EATERS: Flavor Country @ HauteDish
  • BEST USE OF BACON: Bacon Burger @ Pat’s Tap
  • BEST FLAT BURGER: Double Cheese @ Borough
  • BEST LOCALLY LUXE: The Kenwood @ The Kenwood
  • BEST CHARCUTERIE-DRIVEN BURGER: Bottineau Burger @ The Sample Room
  • BEST EURO BURGER: House Hamburger @ Meritage
  • BEST FOOD TRUCK BURGER: Blue Stuffed Burger @ Home Street Home
  • BEST BIRD BURGER: Turkey Burger @ Red Cow
  • BEST SOLID MEAL: The Helicopter @ The Anchor Fish & Chips
  • BEST LOCAL HOMAGE: Pete’s Cabin Burger @ Town Hall Tap
  • BEST UNDER-SUNG: Royale with Cheese @ BLVD
  • BEST HANGOVER BURGER: The Chef’s Loaded @ The Strip Club
  • BEST GASTROPUB BURGER: Perfect Burger @ Victory 44
  • BEST DIVE BURGER: Meisterburger @ Meister’s Bar & Grill
  • BEST SLIDERS: Lamb Sliders @ La Belle Vie

BEST MONSTER CHALLENGE:

Meat Your Maker @ Burger Jones

If you’re going to aspire to the International Federation of Competitive Eating, you might as well enjoy your training. It’s both quality and quantity for this concoction that says Meat It or Beat It. The levels are piled with four cheeseburgers, lots of chicken-fried bacon, two chili cheese dog-burgers, two grilled bacon-cheese sandwiches, two fried eggs, onion rings, cheese curds, and a will to live. The best part is that these components are actually very tasty, compelling you forward. The worst part is you are compelled forward. Eat it in an hour for bragging rights and a T-shirt. 3200 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-746-0800; 1619 Co. Rd. 42 W.,
Burnsville, 952-885-2289, burgerjones.com

BEST VEGGIE BURGER:

Veggie Burger @ Icehouse

Icehouse doesn’t just make a veggie burger; Icehouse destroys our puny human notions of what’s possible without meat. Four kinds of grains and pulverized mushrooms are cooked slow and low, topped with melted Italian taleggio cheese. If there’s another veggie burger on earth that’s better, bring it on. Quickly. 2528 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-276-6523, icehousempls.com

BEST FOR RARE EATERS:

Flavor Country @ HauteDish

For everyone frustrated by the epidemic of overcooked patties metro-wide, this is your new home. The beefiness is lucious and juicy. The bite is plush. Chef Landon Shoenefeld warns, "no temps or substitiontions ever!" This is a burger that says "trust me." 119 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-338-8484, haute-dish.com

BEST USE OF BACON:

Bacon Burger @ Pat’s Tap

Don't settle for a few strips stacked on top; At Pat’s Tap, the fatty meat of the gods is ground right into the patty, rendering the burger smoky, rich, and a variation on the bacon theme that very much deserves to be found. 3510 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-8216, patstap.com

BEST FLAT BURGER:

Double Cheese @ Borough

You may be expecting a sleight of hand from the wily cooks at Borough, but instead, when you order the double cheeseburger from the Parlour menu, you get something new-age retro and dinerific. Two burgers of an insanely flavorful grind of sirloin, ribeye, and brisket are decisively smashed for a unique alchemy indeed; one that propels you forward with craft and backward with taste memory. 730 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-354-3135, boroughmpls.com

BEST LOCALLY LUXE:

The Kenwood @ The Kenwood

This is a burger all other burgers want to date. It is upstanding and does all the right things, like use local Peterson Farms Limousin beef, which delivers a lush and gorgeous grind, cooked perfectly pink and pretty, sitting atop two slices of seared pork belly and festooned with a single verdant leaf of butter lettuce. 2115 W. 21st St., Mpls., 612-377-3695, thekenwoodrestaurant.com

BEST CHARCUTERIE-DRIVEN BURGER:

Bottineau Burger @ The Sample Room

Local charcuterie master Geoff Hausmann took over the kitchen at The Sample Room last fall after making his name at Travail and Pat’s Tap. His new flagship burger embodies all kinds of meat smarts: The beef is well cured, and it’s crowned with a glistening slab of braised and cured pork belly, which is itself garnished with a handful of crisp wisps of buttermilk-fried onions, giving the kaleidoscope of meaty riches even more depth. 2124 NE Marshall St., Mpls., 612-789-0333, the-sample-room.com

BEST EURO BURGER:

House Hamburger @ Meritage

Not merely content to master the pairing of oysters and champagne, Meritage stays on point with its house hamburger, delivering a harmonious balance between old and new worlds. The patty is ample and beefy, made richer with a blanket of confit shallots and tangy Emmenthaler cheese. The Rustica bun is given a stratum of delicate garlic aioli and the whole thing sits, willing to please. 410 St. Peter St., St Paul, 651-222-5670, meritage-stpaul.com

BEST FOOD TRUCK BURGER:

Blue Stuffed Burger @ Home Street Home

Triumph is this burger, where the grass-fed beef is stuffed with a little zingy bleu cheese, then griddled hard until the outside is dark charred, caramelized, and generally majestic, especially with a blanket of melted Havarti, sautéed peppers and onions, and house citrus ketchup on the butter-grilled St. Agnes bakery bun. 651-600-0962, homestreethometruck.com, @HomeStrtHomeTrk

BEST BIRD BURGER:

Turkey Burger @ Red Cow

The turkey burger doesn’t have to be the redheaded stepchild of the burger world; it just usually ends up that way. Red Cow defies the stereotype with a burger that's richly blended with a spice mix to give it heft and flavor, then capped off with peppery arugula, discs of snapping radish, a crunchy bit of pistachios, and a gorgeous herbed mayo that lifts it beyond the pale. 3624 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-767-4411, redcowmn.com

BEST SOLID MEAL:

The Helicopter @ The Anchor Fish & Chips

Facetiously named for the evac vehicle that might lift you to HCMC, this burger is a dense bomb of solid food. A lean third-pound hunk of grass-fed beef is lathered with the creamiest of Irish cheddars, hit with slabs of Fischer Farms ham, and then topped with the fried egg that unites it all in a runny glorious swath of yolk when bitten. 302 13th Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-676-1300, theanchorfishandchips.com

BEST LOCAL HOMAGE:

Pete’s Cabin Burger @ Town Hall Tap

Our state obsession with wild rice can perhaps be proved through this burger alone. Mixed into Angus beef, along with bleu cheese, the homegrown wild rice in this burger has a singular flavor: grassy and almost vegetal, pulling earthiness out of the soft grind. Brilliantly held together with Wisconsin double-crème cheese, it's best followed with some of the nationally acclaimed in-house beer. 4810 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-767-7307, townhalltap.com

BEST UNDER-SUNG:

Royale with Cheese @ BLVD

This burger is under-sung largely because it lives in a restaurant tucked in the back of a suburban “lifestyle complex” that city-goers shun. But this worthy burger has two giant patties gilt with melted cheese, supported by briny pickles, topped with both caramelized and crispy-fried onion strings, and contained in a soft-but-sturdy pretzel bun that rather completes the unctuous picture with its own nip. 11544 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka, 763-398-3200, blvdkitchen.com

BEST HANGOVER BURGER:

The Chef’s Loaded @ The Strip Club

You don’t have to over-indulge in booze to enjoy The Chef’s Loaded burger. Perhaps you have a hangover from too many salads, or you are a little sluggish due to an overabundance of e-mailing, whatever. Dig into a hearty grass-fed beef brick blanketed with cheese, mushrooms, and local bacon. Ingredients are high quality but never overwrought, because this is one burger that's there to take care of you. 378 Maria Ave., St. Paul, 651-793-6247, domeats.com

BEST GASTROPUB BURGER:

Perfect Burger @ Victory 44

What kind of cocky madman names his burger the Perfect Burger? One who can deliver. Erick Harcey, the chef behind Victory 44 and Parka, makes a burger with bacon that internally bastes itself as it cooks and thus renders itself both as slippery and hearty as steak tartare, and also as crisp and smoky as a wood-fired steak. There’s no denying that this is, as bragged, one of the world’s few truly perfect burgers. 2203 44th Ave. N., Mpls., 612-588-2228, victory-44.com

BEST DIVE BURGER:

Meisterburger @ Meister’s Bar & Grill

Yes, iPhones and calendars triple-packed with webinars are inarguably terrific. And yet, sometimes the soul yearns for buck-fifty Grain Belts, shelves overtopping with German tchotchkes, and fellow diners with a healthy scorn for calendars triple-packed with webinars. In other words: Meister’s Bar & Grill! A Stillwater institution located deep inland where the tourists can’t find it, Meister’s offers classic Midwestern burgers of the soft bun, good meat, and well-griddled variety. 901 4th St., Stillwater, 651-439-9860

BEST SLIDERS:

Lamb Sliders @ La Belle Vie

The sliders at LBV are like diamond earrings on an ultimate fighter, like Manolos worn by a cabbie as she rocks out “My Funny Valentine” karaoke on her night off: They are elegantly badass. Hefty, substantial, and generous, the rich and dusky lamb patty sits on a pillowy flour-dusted bun with both hot peppers to bring the sassy heat and minty yogurt to restrain it. 510 Groveland Ave., Mpls., 612-874-6440, labellevie.us

League of Champions

These all-time iconic greats have earned their place at the top by being the best for years. Is there room for one more?

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