Thursday, June 29, 2017

Where to Find the Best Burgers in San Miguel de Allende

I’ll admit it… I’m a burger snob.

When I lived in Chicago, I passed by Edzo’s every day on my way to work. Eddie Larkin, the chef/owner, who did a stint at both Spruce and Tru, was inside grinding meat. That was every morning, seven days a week. I talked to Eddie often and ate there at least once a week for years. I discovered a thing or two about his holy trinity: burgers, fries and malts. So why is Eddie’s the best?
Fries: Eddie’s fries never need ketchup. They’re cooked in hot oil - and for festivals in hickory-scented Broadbent bacon fat - using fresh, Idaho russet potatoes that are hand-cut thin, double fried and sea salted. I always ordered them extra-crispy (that way, they never get soggy) and shed a tear whenever I’m about to finish my last one.
Malts: Their old-style malt machines blend rather than cut and mix slower than modern blenders, which produces smoother, creamier malt since less air is whipped in the mix.
Bun: The buns have brioche elements; not made with too much butter or sugar. In other words, they’re perfect.
Burgers: Eddie used only American beef– USDA choice chuck. It was never frozen. They cut and grind the beef for the burgers every morning in the restaurant. He handled the meat gently and never over-worked it. When you don’t overwork the meat, gaps remain in-between the pieces of beef. When you cook the patty and the fat renders, the fat goes into the voids, making your burger a whole lot juicier. Edzo’s also offered locally-raised and grass-fed beef as an upgrade option.
Many restaurateurs’ don’t say where their burger meat comes from, because truth of the matter is, many of them don’t know. The restaurants on this list did, taking their kitchens personally by knowing the facts on the source of their meat, short of raising it themselves.
A great burger is all about the balance of meat and fat. You want beef between 20-30% fat unless you cook it well done, in which case you should increase the fat.
There are many blends of meat to choose from. The combination of chuck + brisket is a popular combination and your butcher can do it for you since many people don’t own a heavy-duty grinder. I’ve even had oxtail. I also like short rib in the mix and have made burgers totally out of short rib meat because I love the flavor so much. It’s my favorite taste wise in addition to a blend of filet mignon, short rib, and brisket. If you’re buying chuck, buy chuck steaks not a chuck roast (roasts have too much sinew). You can also buy certified Angus, Kobe or Wagyu if you’re willing to pay the price.
As a burger purist, I do not eat meat that’s mixed with anything, even bacon. Many places in Mexico put fillers in their meat so a great burger is hard to come by. That’s why we felt this list was important. Nothing at Edzo’s is added to the meat until they shake salt on the burger when it cooks. That’s it!
Edzo’s offers two kinds of patties: half-pound char burgers cooked on a grill and quarter-pound smashed burgers cooked on a griddle. If you’re making burgers at home on anything other than a grill, cook them in a cast iron pan and heat the pan before you make them; don’t start out cooking with a cold pan. Keep the burgers in the refrigerator until they are ready to grill. Cook them on high heat and turn the meat only once while they are cooking.
We ate 20 burgers in 14 days. Here’s a list of restaurants where they aren’t concerned so much with the toppings or the sides; they recognize if their meat isn’t the best quality, their burger wouldn’t be either.
When it comes to burgers, it’s still and always will be, all about the meat!
Buen Provecho!
Chef Donnie Masterton reigns supreme with the first three restaurants on this list. Since he created burger night at The Restaurant 8 years ago, he’s continually challenged local chefs on many things, including making hamburgers.

The Restaurant
Sollano #16
12 Noon – 10 PM Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday; 12 – 11 PM Thursday, Friday, Saturday; Closed Monday

For 8 years, burger night at The Restaurant has been a Thursday tradition and rightfully so; the burgers are the closest thing to textbook you can get, made of Canada de la Virgen meat blending cuts of sirloin, brisket and chuck. Fries are a chunky mix of both sweet and regular potatoes. The Restaurant is the only place I drink wine with a burger; the wine list is extensive with outstanding selections of both red and white. Don’t forget to make a reservation in season. If you’re a vegetarian, the Portobello Burger is another great choice.

If you’re a purist who thinks you don’t need toppings, this burger will change your mind because the meat stands on its own and all the trimmings simply compliment it. Most of SMA will tell you this is one of the best burgers in town.

Birdie’s Burgers
Doce 18 Concept House at Relox #18
Daily 10 AM – 10 PM

If you’re going to eat a burger, order one like this that's so delicious and sloppy it takes two hands and a stack of napkins to get to the finish.

Birdie's burgers are 100% local, organic, grass-fed and grass-finished pasture raised beef, dry aged one month from Cañada de la Virgen, hormone, antibiotic and gluten free. Birdie's beef is prepared from a blend of sirloin, brisket and chuck and are hand formed and served on a soft toasted bun baked daily at La Buena Vida Bakery. 

There’s no getting enough of one of the best burgers in town no matter how many times you eat them.

El Vergel Bistro and Market
Camino la Alborada #17, Predio la Alborada 37880
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 9 AM – 6 PM; Friday and Saturday 9 AM – 9 PM; Monday closed

El Vergel Bistro has an excellent burger thanks to the successful combination of Chef Magda Elisa Pablos and Canada de la Virgen beef mixed with rib eye fat.

We love the bistro burger topped with Brie cheese, caramelized onions, arugula and crispy bacon but we’re also devoted fans of the sliders, made for special events.

You said you’d take a long road trip just to get the right burger. As luck has it, the drive is only 10 minutes.  

Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion
Nemesio Diez #2
Monday, Wednesday – Saturday 9 AM – 10 PM; Sunday 9 AM – 5 PM; Closed Tuesday

This towering masterpiece of grass-fed beef is topped with gouda and a pile of guacamole. The bun is brushed generously with homemade chipotle mayo. A delicious vegetable salad (green beans, onions, zucchini, dried beets and micro-greens) is served as a healthy side.

This burger adventure will put you in a food coma until you go back for another one. Don’t bother with the napkins; we suggest you bring a bath towel.

La Canica
Pila Seca #2
Wednesday – Monday 1:30 PM – 10 PM except Sunday close at 6 PM; Closed on Tuesday.

We love La Canica’s take on a hamburger: an Asian variety with onion, a hint of ginger and a mix of Asian spices, served with crispy, homemade potato chips.

Only a burger made with high-quality meat can taste this good and you’ll never guess the blend – veal shipped in from Monterrey with a little fat added for flavor.

This may not be a traditional burger as you know it, but it’s undeniably one of SMA’s best.

Umaran #19
Monday – Saturday 5 PM – 1 AM; Closed Sundays

Prepare to get messy. Berlin is a eye-opener because this 80/20 sirloin and chuck burger has few embellishments; the star of the show is definitely the meat.

There are a lot of outstanding burgers on this list but this one was one of the best and biggest ones we ate. The juices, both on the bun and running down your arm, are a testament to the quality of these burgers.  

Now, let’s see if you can really eat the whole thing without surrendering to a doggie box. I did but I brought a friend and split it. This burger is in the top two on our list.

Cuna de Allende #15
Daily 1 PM – 2 AM

Cooked to order, this burger is an 80/20 blend of sirloin and round from Rancho 17 in Sonora; some of the best meat in Mexico. The toppings: a double delight of Tillamook Cheddar cheese and roasted chilaca peppers.

The combination of flavors made for a distinctive taste, which we found both surprising and delicious. On the side: a satisfying compliment of Avocado, Onion and Chile Guero.

Call this burger the most flavorful in SMA and we’re likely to second that.

La Burger
Barranca #42
12 Noon – 6 PM; Home Delivery available

Out-of-town: Fraccionamiento El Cortijo Highway San Miguel - Dolores Hidalgo – km. s/n 7.3 s/n

With a tasty burger made of imported sirloin from the states, this charming, little spot serves your burger up at one, large, over-sized communal table that takes up the entire room. Because the restaurant is so small, they serve it with homemade chips instead of fries.

If you miss the taste of grilled meat, take a hike to the one on the road to Dolores Hidalgo. They cook it on an open flame and serve it up with French fries.

It’s good to have them back in Centro SMA again, especially when the burgers are this good.

El Grandpa and Son Burgers
Fabrica la Aurora #2-A
Monday – Thursday 12 Noon – 9 PM; Friday and Saturday 12 Noon – 10 PM; Sunday 12 PM – 6 PM

It’s what you fantasize about when you have a burger dream: rib eye meat topped with American cheese, bacon and onion rings; one messy but satisfying and flavorful feast.

You can also order a Pico (mini) burger that’s just about 2 bites for 35 pesos. Mine was topped with a combination of blue cheese and caramelized onions. We like the taste when it’s cooked to medium.

Good luck not needing a nap after this indulgence!

Café Lavanda
Calle Doctor Ignacio Hernandez Macias 87
Monday and Wednesday – Saturday 8:30 AM – 4 PM; Sunday 8:30 AM – 2 PM

Chatitas - not one but two beef sliders served with cheddar cheese, tomato, onion and bacon sided with sweet potato chips. The bun is baked fresh daily at Buonforno bakery, Sterling Dickinson 33, Col. San Antonio. The meat is a blend containing skirt steak from Carnicería La Lonja, whose farm carries some of the best beef in SMA. As long as the kitchen turns out food this good, you can bet there will continue to be lines around the block every weekend.

El Tucan
Calle del Dr Ignacio Hernandez Macias 56
9 AM – 4 PM

This is the least expensive burger on the list – 30 pesos without French fries (55 pesos with), with or without the bacon…a meaty Tocino con Grasa from Sammy’s Mercado on Insurgentes.

El Tucan is our favorite little dive because their ingredients are better quality than what you’ll find at most hole-in-the-walls like the beef they use for their hamburgers. The meat comes from Carniceria Los Tres Huastecos at Carlos Del Castillo 4 in Colonia Guadalupe where they grind the flank steak fresh; ask for the Molida Especial if you make them at home.

Who knew you could find both quality and value between two slices of bread?

Mio Bistrock
Julian Carrillo 7-C 
Thursday – Sunday 1 PM – 10 PM

Lorelai Cordova opened this delightful food truck in Colonia Guadalupe in a colorful, little lot that's full of local charm and adorable, mismatched furniture. Lorelai, who cooked in Acapulco, Cuernavaca and Italy, specializes in Mediterranean food and has a large variety of seafood on the menu. We delight in everything she cooks, especially the tasty high-quality lamb burger. Lorelai buys the lamb from Cazadores in Mercado San Juan in Mexico City.

We think it’s the best lamb burger in SMA. You’ll need a fork and a big appetite to eat it.

B’ui Cocina de Campo
Otomi’s residential area outside of San Miguel de Allende. Km 2 Camino a San Miguel el Viejo, C.P. 37 700
Friday - Sunday 1:30 PM - 9 PM

Nobody thinks of a fine dining restaurant as a burger joint but we think it’s about time you do. All of the comforts of a country club without the dues.

This heaven-on-earth setting makes a burger that’s picture perfect with a taste to match, made of Green Farms organic, grass-fed beef.

If you want the full package, this is your place. The burger is covered with a homemade BBQ sauce made from Chili Ancho and Poloncillo and topped with our two favorite bites: bacon and onion rings. The bread is made locally by Panaderia La Buena Vida. On the side are wide-cut French fries with truffle oil.
How’s this for over-the-top: there’s a side of cheese – parmigiano and goat cheese - so you can pour it over the burger and fries before you dig in.
Promise, after this one, you wouldn’t need to eat for a week!