Everyone loves a good hamburger, especially Americans. More than 50 billion burgers are consumed in this country every year, making the U.S. the hamburger capital of the world.
That wasn’t always the case. According to Wikipedia, the term hamburger originally derives from Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest city. Hamburger in German is the demonym of Hamburg, similar to frankfurter and wiener, names for other meat-based foods and demonyms of the cities of Frankfurt and Vienna respectively.
A Hamburg steak (originating in Hamburg) had been popular in Germany for several centuries before eventually making its way to America in the 1800s. There are various claims as to the origin of what we know as the modern hamburger, but it probably gained widespread appeal at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, thanks to several food vendors.
Now, there are thousands of burger joints throughout the country, and restaurants from casual to fine dining include gourmet burgers on their menu.
You can celebrate – and taste – a variety of hamburgers during the inaugural Orange County Burger Week from Sunday, July 14 through Saturday, July 20.
Presented by The Fork Report, the event highlights burgers from nearly 60 participating restaurants countywide. Diners will be able to explore a variety of burgers with menus priced at $10, $15 and $20, and luxe burger menus at $25.
Eleven restaurants in Newport Beach are participating, along with five in Laguna Beach: Back Bay Bistro, Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, Cappy’s Café, Fable & Spirit, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Great Maple | A Modern American Eatery, Juliette Kitchen and Bar, Mozambique, Ocean At Main, Olea, Cellar. Craft. Cook, Sapphire Laguna, Sidedoor, Skyloft, The Quiet Woman, Tortilla Republic, and Zov’s.
I’ve sampled some of the Burger Week hamburgers, while others I’m looking forward to trying, including the $15 Bison Burger from Back Bay Bistro at Newport Dunes, which comes with a choice of truffle fries or sweet potato fries.
Bosscat Kitchen & Libations near John Wayne Airport has a terrific $20 Burger Week Menu featuring a choice of three burgers: Return of the Mac with spicy mac n’ cheese, Bacon & Blue, and Beyond Avocado with a Beyond Burger patty. They come with fries and red velvet churros for dessert.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Fashion Island has a terrific $20 three-course Burger Week menu available at lunchtime. Start with a choice of soup or salad, then entrée choice of Mushroom-Farro Burger, Surf and Turf burger (burger topped with a crab cake), or a California Burger with avocado and smoked jalapeño aioli. Dessert is choice of New York Cheesecake or a box of housemade truffles.
Ocean at Main in Laguna Beach has their OAM Burger available for $20, and it’s a beauty: a beef patty with caramelized onions, cloth bound cheddar, bibb lettuce, crispy shallots, and wagyu beef aioli. It’s served with truffle fries—two of my favorite words. Chef Craig Strong told me that the Wagyu beef has a high fat count, so he renders the fat down and used that for the aioli for the burger, which accentuates the flavor. I tried it last month, and it is everything I hoped for in a burger.
And then there’s my favorite Newport burger courtesy of Olea: the $25 American Wagyu Burger with Hooks two-year aged cheddar, caramelized shallots, organic butter lettuce, heirloom tomato, secret sauce, on a soft potato bun. Served with Chefs house made herb fries. Includes a glass of Martin Ray Synthesis Cabernet Sauvignon (valued at $20 per glass). The burger is a handful of deliciousness, while the generous helping of perfectly-prepared fries spills off of the plate.
SideDoor in Corona del Mar has a nice $20 burger menu featuring their Table Side Burger with an 8oz patty that blends short rib, brisket, and rib eye, topped with prime rib chili, provolone cheese, sliced pastrami, onion rings, jalapeno bottle caps, tomato, and a pickle, all stuffed between a brioche bun and drizzled with house made cheddar sauce. Served with fries. Now that’s what I call a gourmet burger!
Zov in Newport Coast has a dual burger menu. The $15 menu includes either a classic burger or a crispy chicken burger, served with a choice of sides and a draft beer. The $25 Luxe Burger menu is Drunken Surf & Turf with Cajun whiskey marinated shrimp, Angus prime beef, Maker’s Mark sweet BBQ glaze, smoked gouda, house-dill pickles, tangy remoulade, crispy onion, on a seasoned brioche bun. Served with choice of sides and a glass of Patz & Hall Pinot Noir.
For a complete list of Burger Week restaurants and menus, visit BurgerWeek.com.