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What to Eat at Burger Fest: Critics’ Choice and Vegetarian Options

By Patty Wetli | Sunday, July 22, 2012

Best of the fest -- the Cortland Burger. Credit: Patty Wetli

So many burgers, such little stomachs. If you’re heading to the Roscoe Village Burger Fest (Belmont and Damen) and don’t have the guts, literally, to sample all the options from the 11 vendors slinging patties, we’re here to help you narrow your options.

The Critics’ Choice was awarded to Cortland’s Garage (1645 W. Cortland St.) on Saturday, so that’s a great place to start. Judges Amanda Puck, Ina Pinkney, Gary Wiviott and Mike Sula also favored samples from Butcher and the Burger (1021 W. Armitage) and Goose Island, which tied for second place honors.

Roscoe View Journal‘s own resident burger expert (we’ll call him Mr. RVJ) also declared Cortland’s tops, giving the Cortland Burger points for including bacon, avocado and crispy onion strings, the kind you’d find in a green bean casserole only better. Mr. RVJ was also a fan of the burgers at Reggies, citing the quality of the beef and the extensive condiment options, which included peppers. The crowd clearly agreed — Reggies boasted one of the longest lines at the fest, making the joint one to watch in today’s fan favorite competition.

Vegetarians, don’t be scared off by the festival’s name; you’ll find plenty to whet your appetite beyond the ubiquitous funnel cake. John’s Place offered up sweet potato fries, Stanley’s Kitchen and Tap had a roasted corn salad (with cilantro, so we took a pass), and Butcher and the Burger’s menu included a chilled yellow tomato soup shooter. If $4 for an ear of corn doesn’t offend you, go for it. Same for the $2 slice of watermelon (um, you can get a whole watermelon for four bucks hot off the truck).

But this is, after all, burger fest, and two vendors made sure vegetarians weren’t confined to the side dish sidelines. RVJ awards first place in the veggie category to Hamburger Mary’s (5400 N. Clark St.) vegan black bean burger, served with pickles and tasty Thousand Island dressing. The patties were clearly handmade and actually resembled a “burger.” Second place goes to Reggies for its spicy black bean/potato/sweet potato patty that was vaguely reminiscent of a potato pancake. Extra points for offering FREE slices of watermelon along with condiments. In third place…well, there was no third veggie burger.

Desserts were limited to the aforementioned funnel cakes and other carnival-style fare. Butcher and the Burger is serving scoops of vanilla custard but we recommend the following for sweets lovers: Exit the fest at Belmont and Damen. Cross the street. Enter 1955 W. Belmont and feast on Black Dog Gelato.

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