I HAD to go eat burgers.

I HAD to go eat burgers.

These write-ups originally appeared in the April 2016 “Burger” issue of Spree Magazine. If reading about burgers is your thing, find more at the magazine’s website posting, which highlights a few more pieces from this print feature.

The Classic Cheeseburger

Location: Grover’s Bar & Grill, 9160 Transit Road, East Amherst, 636-1803 (follow them on Facebook)

Category: Traditional

This beefy, no-frills behemoth is consistently rated one of Buffalo’s best. At twelve ounces, Grover’s legendary burger is a two-handed commitment made with finely ground, ninety percent lean Angus beef that’s formed into a plump, perky patty just over an inch thick and almost six inches wide. Burgers are cooked to order on a hot flat-top; a deft flip of a huge spatula and a few minutes under a silver dome yield a medium-rare patty with a seared outer crust and a warm, pink center. Opt for cheese (sharp cheddar, Swiss, American, provolone, mozzarella, blue, or Monterey jack) and the perfectly seasoned beef comes encased in melty goodness. It’s served open-faced and dwarfs the bottom half of an untoasted Italian roll that readily absorbs the juices that ooze forth when the upper bun, piled with lettuce, two tomato slices, thick rings of white onion, and a smear of mayonnaise, is pressed on top. Ketchup and mustard are on the table, and optional add-ons include onion straws, mushrooms, jalapenos, crisped bacon, or caramelized onions. For nine dollars (cash only), this beast of a classic burger is served simply with a pickle spear.

Note: if chewing sounds like too much work, opt for what Guy Fieri called the “liquid cheeseburger” on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives: Grover’s famous cheeseburger soup.

The Veggie Burger

Location: Betty’s, 370 Virginia Street, 362-0633, bettysbuffalo.com

Category: Alternative

Zesty and creative, this bold burger is a treat without the meat. Here’s a veggie burger that is vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free—but certainly not flavor-free. A recent addition to Betty’s lunch menu, the Southwest-inspired patty is made in-house with grilled eggplant, red onion, poblano peppers, and black beans—pureed with nutritional yeast, scratch-made barbecue sauce, and a blend of garlic, paprika, chili, cumin, and coriander. The addition of some whole black beans gives the burger some tooth, but none of the mealy mouthfeel that typifies many all-bean burgers. Oven-roasting imparts a crisp, richly browned crust that crumbles open to reveal a moist interior with a texture reminiscent of falafel. The free-form eight-ounce patty overhangs the soft, untoasted Luigi’s Italian roll by at least an inch all around. It comes dressed with a dollop of the same sweet, tomatoey barbecue sauce used in the patty and is layered with crisp romaine, a tousle of alfalfa sprouts, sliced tomato, and pink ribbons of not-too-vinegary pickled red onions, which offer a cool, tangy contrast to the slightly spicy burger. The burger is accompanied by a pickle spear, and a side selection of soup, veggie chili, a sizeable green salad, or potato salad.

Oliver’s Burger

Location: Oliver’s,  2095 Delaware Avenue, 877-9662, oliverscuisine.com

Category: Gourmet

Decadent details make this Bugatti of burgers worth every cent. The centerpiece of Oliver’s burger is the elite meat—nine ounces of minced beef tenderloin and strip steak are hand-formed into a patty that’s chargrilled to order. The result is that unmistakable flame-kissed beef flavor surrounding a perfectly pink center that melts like fine tartare on the tongue. The indulgence doesn’t stop there. Smoked bacon and sweet onions are slow cooked until golden brown, then pureed into a bacon jam that is spread on the bottom half of a grilled, brioche-style bun baked fresh by Oliver’s pastry chef. The bacon layer salts the otherwise subtly seasoned beef patty and acts as a savory barrier that keeps the burger’s ample juices from soaking the delicately sweet bun. Baked on top of the thick patty is a dollop of creamy caramelized leek-infused gorgonzola, a rich addition that elevates the experience to unapologetic tastebud rapture. The entire package arrives as a lofty stack that’s so picture-perfect it hardly even looks real, from the crisp green romaine leaf peeking out from under a browned sesame-flecked domed bun to the side of steak-cut duck-fat fries served in a red checkered paper cone with hickory-smoked ketchup on the side.

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