Food Fanatics: The beef within (the buns)

John Paynter, Sports Editor

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Though Winston Salem does not compare to Charlotte or Raleigh in size, there is one aspect in which our little city extends its authority all throughout the state. Within this domain there is a large unspoken culinary competition that makes its way into just about every street corner.

In Winston Salem the market for top-notch burgers is a competitive yet savory business. Winston Salemites do not settle for anything less than perfect when it comes to what is in between the buttered buns, and restaurants would be in trouble if they gave the customers anything close to a sub-par patty. So with this in mind, I made it my mission to find the best burger in our big-burger city.

After weeks of extensive research, not only did I get sick of eating burgers for weeks straight, I was able to narrow my search down to four of the exceptional burger joints that will be competing in my high-stakes comparison. Burger Batch is a small restaurant on Fifth Street that is home to not only the restaurant but also the bar right next door in which it is connected. While Burger Batch is known for their fantastic burgers, it is also known for their hand-dipped milkshakes, which are only rivaled by Cin Cin Burger Bar. Cin Cin Burger Bar is a fairly new restaurant to the area; they pride themselves in the old-timey restaurant feel that it gives off as they reference, in decor, the underground Speakeasies that made their appearance in the 1920’s after the newfound prohibition laws. Fortunately for these two restaurants, these facts do help them in the standings because, as we all know, it isn’t just the burger you are tasting, it is the experience.

My next review is The Quiet Pint, which is a small bar that is right across the street from their rival, Cin Cin. While The Quiet Pint is known more for their locally crafted beverages, folks from all over the city have sent me to the restaurant, claiming that they have a, “[Darn] good burger” as Winston Salemite, John Tatter put it. My final review is a small restaurant on 4th Street that prides themselves in having all local ingredients, hence the name, Local. This includes their high quality ground beef that they consider a delecassy as they only serve in six ounce portions, as opposed to the eight ounce serving that their competitors serve. The restaurant has a comfy environment that works to complement their home-like, or local, beef that they put between two buttery buns that is nicely stamped with their logo, giving the burger a unique and intriguing look.

The Upset

Starting at the bottom half of the bracket, the two burgers that you may not have expected to be on the losing side. Even though the experience is a huge part of the burger experience, that did not help the case for Cin Cin. Coming in at last place, Cin Cin did not capture it’s potential to the full extent, with an over-cooked patty, and an overwhelming amount of toppings. Fortunately for this restaurant, they seem to have more emphasis on the toppings and the type of burger rather than the condition of the patty itself. They have about a dozen different unique burger choices that are all equally worth trying. For instance, the Nutty Butter, which features a sort of peanut butter-like spread.

Next on the list we have a slightly better burger that certainly surprised me, as they do not tend to be known for their burgers. The Quiet Pint posted up a convincing case for their cooks, sending out a perfect medium accompanied by an aggressive amount of french fries. Where the burger really excels is the perfect pink center that the medium should possess, which is also accompanied by two buttery brioche buns that complement it nicely.

The Finals

Next on the bracket is a restaurant known for their commanding burgers as well as a control over the burger market itself. Burger Batch had me in awe of their burger. It was cooked to a perfect medium that was impressive as they seem to tamp the ground beef before slapping it on the grill. This caused a thin patty that had not only a warm pink center, but also a crispy outer layer that is sure to cause some salivation upon the bite. The burger experience is a convincing one, where, like Cin Cin, they have a wide variety of unique burgers that appeals to a large audience.

Now, after much studying, thought, and intense research, there was really no question to be asked. The ultimate burger in Winston Salem is housed in a small, humble restaurant that, to the unknowing, would look just like any other downtown restaurant.  The thing that sets them apart is truly in their name Local. When you step foot in the restaurant you can smell the goodness that is being crafted. But it isn’t until you sink your teeth into the patty that you will understand the reason for it getting such a high rating. Even though it is just six ounces, the patty was cooked to a temperature that was unmatched by any of the competitors, it had the perfect amount of pink that the muenster cheese complements in flavor. At Local, it isn’t the toppings, the milkshakes, or the experience that takes the forefront. It is truly the local ground patty that is, in simple terms, perfect.

Now that I have completed my research, I must go back and make one last claim. None of these restaurants are in any way subpar. In fact, they are all fantastic burgers that equally deserve the top four spots in Winston Salem, which is something to be proud of.  Now that you know my take, it is your turn to go rate give them a try and commend them for an exceptional burger.

Photos provided by John Paynter