Kobe beef and Washington grown beef are the themes for today’s featured five burgers in my “20 burgers you should eat before you die’” series.
Bar noshing doesn’t get any better than a big, cheesy gut bomb of a burger. It’s the anytime accompaniment to a cold pint at your favorite watering hole. My six month odyssey of sampling bar burgers at South Sound bars, taverns and pubs continues today with five more burgers you have to try before you die.
Here are the bars featured for this burger series:
Tuesday: Powerhouse Brewery, Cliff House, Matador, Blazing Onion and Beach Tavern.
Wednesday: Engine House No. 9, El Gaucho, Katie Downs, The Parkway, Ram
Thursday: Crown Bar, Harmon, Bite Restaurant, West End Pub, Cheers South Hill
Friday: Asado, Maxwell’s, Pacific Grill, The Hub, The Right Spot
Here are my next five picks for bar burgers worth your time and extra napkins:
6. Mushroom Swiss Burger ($12)
Where: Crown Bar, 2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253-272-4177, www.crownbartacoma.com
Crown Bar owner Charlie McManus gets an extra nod for using meat from Thundering Hooves, a Walla Walla farm known for raising excellent cattle. The patty may skew too lean for your palate, as it did for mine, but I make an allowance because the beef is exceptionally clean in flavor. The mushroom Swiss burger came on a soft bun (it would have been better had it been grilled). A tangy burger spread settled thick on top of gooey Swiss melted over the flame-grilled burger that was finished with romaine lettuce, red onions and a meaty slice of tomato. House-made pickles, fragrant with juniper berries and anise, added aromatic pucker. Skins-on handcut fries with chipotle ketchup pushes the dish to the top of this list. (Tip: Burgers are discounted to $7.99 on Wednesdays.)
7. The Harmongous ($12.59)
Where: The Harmon Brewery, 1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253-383-2739, http://harmonbrewingco.com/brewery_eatery.html
The Harmongous weighs in big with a giant 3⁄4-pound patty on a sturdy bun. This enormous burger gets double duty cheese – Swiss and Cheddar – and a hearty layer of sautéed mushrooms. Chewy bacon upped the flavor considerably. Green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, red onion and three dill pickle slices added crunch to the burger, which came with the Harmon’s outstanding crispy garlic fries.
8. The Bite Burger ($16)
Where: Bite Restaurant in the Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma, 253-238-8000, www.hotelmuranotacoma.com
The Bite burger on the evening bar menu came with a half-pound Kobe patty tinged with grill marks. A layer of sweet comes from a toasted brioche bun that was smeared with what makes this burger memorable: a puckery, sweet, rich bacon relish. I picked gruyere from a choice of cheeses that also included cheddar, mozzarella and Gorgonzola. Soft butter lettuce gave the burger a velvety mouthfeel. Sliced Roma tomatoes and red onions completed the towering burger that was speared with a baby gherkin. House-made fries on the side were crispy-creamy-tasty.
9. Kobe Burger ($9.50)
Where: The West End Pub, 3840 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253-759-2896, www.westendpubandgrill.com
A half-pound Kobe patty weeped plenty of juicy goodness with barely a squeeze. It was slathered with pungent blue cheese ($1.25 upcharge, or your choice of cheese for a 75 cents) and got an additional flavor boost from chipotle mayo. Crispy lettuce, tomatoes and onions offered relief from the fatiness of the beef and cheese.
10. South Hill Stuffer Bacon Cheeseburger ($10.95)
Where: Cheers South Hill, 4110 S. Meridian, Puyallup, 253-770-0461, www.cheersbar.us
At Cheers, the burgers come stuffed: bacon-cheddar cheese, ham and American, mushroom Swiss, and jalapeno-pepperjack. I bit into the bacon-cheese stuffer and reveled in a behemoth half-pound burger dressed with lettuce, tomato and a sweet onion relish. A sturdy onion roll enveloped the half-pound patty and stuffing. Within one bite into the charred, juicy beef, the cheese began to flow out of the center of the burger in gooey channels. Eating the burger at a slight angle helped contain the cheese. Maybe the bacon should be woven into the patty so it can act as a cheese dam.