But first, a song to get you in the mood. Hamburgers for America!
If you aren't familiar with the Burger Beast, take a minute and check out his blog where he writes about burgers 'round the clock. I first met the Beast a few weeks ago at the Latin Burger & Taco Truck. I had purchased a ticket to the Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine & Food Fest but then booked a business trip that overlapped, rendering my ticket useless. I knew if anyone would be able to help me sell my ticket it was the Burger Beast himself. He took the ticket off of my hands as a surprise gift to his wife, Marcela. Yup, he's a real Softee. We chatted while I beasted a Latin Macho Burger and I asked if he really eats burgers every day. Much to my surprise, he doesn't actually eat burgers every day. Ok, so it wasn't a big surprise and I commented that had he answered, "yes", my follow up question was going to be, "So, are you and your plumber on a first name basis?" The Beast told me he was in the process of organizing a Miami Street Food Fest, inspired by all the mobile eats that had popped up all of the city as of late and later on he informed me that there was a lone seat left on the Burger Tour he had organized and asked if I wanted in. Luckily, I was in between business trips and was able to attend.
The lineup for the Burger Beast Miami Burger Tour consisted of The Taurus in the Grove, The Filling Station in downtown Miami, and Burger & Beer Joint on Miami Beach. Transportation to and from each stop on the tour was provided by Gus and Michelle of the Miami Tour Company who also run the blog, Miami Beach 411. I was happy to finally meet Gus in person as he and I have exchanged comments on a few blog topics in the SoFL blogosphere and I've always thought he was a standup guy. I was right. Both he and Michelle are great and it's no surprise that their tour business is booming.
I met the group at The Taurus in the Grove, a mere couple of blocks from my home in Coconut Grove. I had had tried their burger previously and recommended it to the Burger Beast while noting that the fries are the best I'd ever had. The Taurus did a great job as leadoff hitter for the Burger Tour, setting each of us up with a 1/2 portion of their burger and a bunch of baskets of their truffle fries. The burger was cooked medium without being too dry. I usually don't like toppings on my burger but they didn't overdo it by piling toppings on too high so I scarfed down the burger, tomato, lettuce, and all. It was a good burger but nothing to rant and rave about. The fries, however, were a huge hit. Fried super crispy and coated with truffle oil and a blend of seasonings, these fries were not long for this world. Jen, from Dine Magazine, made the mistake of sharing a little basket with me. I think she maybe got 4 fries. I inhaled the rest.
We loaded the tour bus and began our trek to the next stop - The Filling Station. It was pretty cool that the bus had the tour audio going, dropping little nuggets of Miami history on us as it chugged through Coconut Grove and into downtown. I was surprised to see that the Filling Station was located right around the corner from where I used to work when I had a job downtown. We walked in and were greeted by a very friendly staff and this sign.
This burger was obviously gonna be awesome based on name alone
The Filling Station is a tiny joint with a menu that packs quite the variety of sandwiches and burgers along with some apps and salads. The burgers all have auto-associated names like Julie's T-Bird (turkey burger), and more interesting burger combos like the Speed Racer (burger with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, jalapeno jack cheese, bacon and a fried egg) and the Super Sport (burger w/ creamy peanut butter(??!!??), peppered bacon, red onion and lettuce). Steve's "Respect" Mobile sure earned my respect. The burger was cooked to a nice medium and topped with a nice jerk-sauced pulled pork. I had just had this combo at a bar in Minneapolis recently and loved it and the Filling Station's version was even better with the buttermilk ranch served on the side for burger dunking. They also served up some tater tots with the burger along with some iced tea. I thought the burger was very good and I'm definitely going to make plans to go back and try the Super Sport sometime as I'm dying to know what peanut butter on a burger with bacon tastes like. More than anything though, I was really impressed at how friendly the staff was, from the owner on down the line. Everyone seemed really pumped to be a part of the Burger Tour. Hell, they aren't even open on Sunday night and opened just for the Burger Tour!
Once again, we boarded the tour bus and traversed over the causeway to Miami Beach to the last stop on the Burger Tour - Burger & Beer Joint. I was already a huge fan of B&BJ, with my first experience detailed here. Because of that, I wasn't too worried about the fact that I was already pretty full after 1.5 burgers, tots, and truffle fries. I had been there, done that. Burger & Beer Joint served up a slider version of what we thought was supposed to be their Thunder Road burger (burger, cheese, bacon, bbq sauce) along with some gigantic onion rings. The burger was not the Thunder Road and instead was just a tiny patty with a little lettuce on top. It was also cold which sucked. If I wasn't already full and if this burger wasn't magnificently seasoned, I'd have been majorly disappointed. But, even cold and sad looking, it was still pretty good. The burger was cooked to a perfectly pink medium and the meat tasted fantastic and melted on the tongue. The onion ring was impressive in size but just ok in taste.
Jacob Katel, from the Miami New Times Short Order blog, asked me what I thought about the tour and if I'd do it again. I said that it was a great time and that they were probably going to have to wheel me outta there because I was so full! I think I would definitely do the Burger Tour again but I think it would be better if it started a little earlier. We got delayed a bit at the first stop which resulted in the last burger being consumed at 10pm at night, not very conducive to the whole digestive process. All in all though, I thought the Burger Beast Miami Burger Tour was planned properly and executed well. The Beast did a great job making sure everyone was set up for a good time and the value for the dollar was phenomenal. Big thanks to the Burger Beast and the Miami Tour Company!