Selecting Riverfront Times' Best of St. Louis 2011 was no picnic. Choosing the winner meant several worthy candidates would go unmentioned -- until now. In this Gut Check series, we are chewing our way through notable runners up in a number of categories. To see hundreds more winners and finalists and download the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis mobile app, visit our Best of St. Louis homepage.
Few foods prompt more debate in St. Louis than the hamburger does. In fact, I can think of only one: pizza. And, as has happened with pizza here over the past few years, no sooner have you concluded what the best burger in town must be, some place new comes along to challenge your beliefs.
|A burger from one of this year's finalists|
In fact, of our five finalists for "Best Burger," three are relatively new restaurants. The winner, though, is an established champ.
5. Dave & Tony's Premium Burger Joint (12766 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur; 314-439-5100)
|A patty on the grill at Dave & Tony's Premium Burger Joint|
This west-county newcomer looks like a national chain, but for now (at least) it remains a stand-alone operation. Though you can top your burger with any number of vegetables, sauces and more, the patty is what sets this Joint apart: beautifully grilled, very juicy and -- unusual for a quick-service operation -- cooked to your liking, including rare and medium-rare.
4. Deaver's Restaurant & Sports Bar (2109 Charbonier Road, Florissant; 314-838-0002)
|A burger with cheddar and bacon at Deaver's|
Local food blogger/podcast host/provocateur Bill Burge has raved for several years about the burger at this unassuming Florissant bar & grill. He's right. The burger is nothing short of fantastic: a medium-rare patty with the ideal proportions of char, beef and juice. The version pictured here, with melted cheddar and crisp, thick bacon, is enough to sate your bloodthirst for a week.
3. The Tavern Kitchen & Bar (2961 Dougherty Ferry Road, Valley Park; 636-825-0600)
|The "Tavern Burger" at the Tavern Kitchen & Bar|
What makes the burger at this year-old Valley Park restaurant such a gem isn't simply the patty -- though that, of course, is very good: loosely hand-formed and very succulent. What puts it over the top is the magical pairing of white cheddar and a tangy, ever-so-sweet and porky "bacon jam."