Top chefs massage their meat at Riverwalk Burger Battle VIII

May is National Hamburger Month, when chefs both amateur and professional try to combine fantastic flavors and meaty goodness to come up with a slice of heaven in a bun, thus achieving Burger Nirvana!  This heightened state of carnivorous awareness has always been the fuel behind the Riverwalk Burger Battle, sponsored this year by RIVA, which took to the field of culinary chaos, also known as Huizenga Park, on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

On that same field in downtown Fort Lauderdale, hundreds of hungry foodies gathered to sample the wares from fourteen of South Florida’s finest eateries.

The 2017 Contenders include American Social, Big City Tavern, BRGR Stop, Bokampers, Burger Craze, Hard Rock Cafe, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, Marina 84 Sports Bar & Grill,  Metro Diner, Pelican Grand Beach Resort, Pincho Factory, Red Rock Oasis, Rumors Bar & Grill, Tuck Duke’s Lunchbox.

The burger masters were fighting to tempt the taste buds of the judging panel; one panel of professional chefs and another of local food bloggers. The professional judges included Chef Jen Knox, Chef Gina Sansonia, Chef Judith Able, Chef Bret Hauser, Chef Camilo Cuartas, and the winner of last year’s Burger Battle, Chef Peter Farrand of Shula Burger!

Burger cooks were also trying to impress the other hungry battle fans, each of which who possessed a small chip to place in the box of their favorite booth. For nearly three hours, the crowd devoured the miniature burgers, and imbibed on some of the finest spirits in Broward County. VIP guests were also able to enjoy some delightful ice cream, courtesy of the Brain Freeze Nitrogen Ice Cream & Yogurt Lab!

The assembled crowd had to survive the oppressive Florida heat, as well as the urge to stop eating after filling up on the amazing French fries, provided by Riverfront Cruises. Luckily, the lively sounds of  The Joe Friday Band helped to keep everyone moving, thus burning off calories and keeping the feast going!

Of course, the sampling of the burgers wasn’t the only fun to be had. Marcus Tovar put on a few pounds as the winner of the Stevens & Goldwyn PA Slider Eating Contest by finishing five burgers from The Downtowner in only three minutes.

Finally, at a little before 6:30 p.m. local time, the winners were announced:

  • Best burger jointBurger Craze (The La Loca burger was the definition of spicy, but not in a bad way.)
  • Best Bar& GrillHard Rock Café (Honestly, we didn’t think this burger was anything special, and probably would have given this honor to Margaritaville instead.)
  • Best Knife&ForkPelican Grand (This burger wins the most enthused staff award, and their love of their job translated to a pretty good sandwich.)
  • Fan favoriteMetro Diner Their holy davoli burger was basically a normal cheeseburger served inside of a grilled cheese sandwich. How can you go wrong?)


Each burger master put their own spin on the classic beef sandwich, but in this “media foodie’s” opinion, none reached the Burger Nirvana threshold. Still, each one provided at least a little of the meaty goodness than you come to expect in a decent burger.

Although Palm Beach Happening congratulates the amazing burger masters that the distinguished panel of judges crowned, we’d like to offer up our own list of honorable mentions.

  • More than a mouthful burger – American Social (Although flavorful, this burger was a nearly 6 inch tall behemoth that took more than both hands to deal with!)
  • Best non-cheese cheeseburger – Rumors (Their use of lobster and onion marmalade gave the burger an almost cheesy, creamy quality that was amazing! Plus, they have a true Celebrity Chef.)

Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale thank all the sponsors for their continued support, Presenting Sponsor –  RIVA, VIP SponsorProperty Markets Group (PMG) Official Auto Sponsor – JM Lexus, along with the following integral partners: Breakthru Beverage,  Jack Daniels, Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, Barefoot Wines,Bar Red Beard BB&TBrain Freeze Ice Cream Lab Stephens Distributing, Budweiser,  Stella Artois, Golden Road, Crystal Geyser, Stevens & Goldwyn, P.A., Dynamix, The Downtowner, The Media Lab, Ellis Connects, City of Fort Lauderdale, Best Rental Service,  Big Mouth Girlz, Midgard Management,The Original Signman Sun Trolley,  Palm Beach Happenings, Riverfront Cruises Riverwalk Water Trolley, Eye on South Florida, Red Ball Social, Two Men And A Truck, VOSS and Go Riverwalk Magazine.

Be sure to follow the Riverwalk Burger Battle on Facebook for updates throughout the year. With less than 365 days until the next burger battle, you’ll have plenty of time to work up an appetite!For event information and sponsorship opportunities for 2018, contact Cristina Hudson at 954.468.1541, ext. 205 or [email protected]