In my role as the Man Who Ate the Town, I have eaten a lot of burgers. You can look at me and tell that I am telling the truth about that. I have been teasing my Top 5 burgers in Winston-Salem on Instagram for a while. Finally, someone called me out and asked when I was going to post my list of best burgers and stop dangling it like a carrot over everyone’s head.
That got me to thinking. I honestly can’t say what the five best burgers are because I don’t know that I’ve had the five best. I have a couple of places that I return to often because I love them. I have one location in my own Top 5 that was ravaged by fire and another that has closed permanently, so I had to rethink that personal list.
I knew what I had to do: I resolved to try as many as I could.
I think of summer as burger season. I think a lot of folks do. So I decreed it to be the Summer of Burgers.
Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, even though it is a few weeks before the official start, and Labor Day is the unofficial ending, though it doesn’t quite yet feel like fall. But Tuesday, May 28 — the day after Memorial Day — was National Burger Day. What better time to start? The Summer of Burgers runs from Memorial Day until Labor Day at which time I will formulate my favorite burgers into a Top 5 Best or Top 10 Best list.
However, there are some caveats here.
I won’t eat burgers from national fast-food chains such as the Golden Arches, the Crown, Hardly’s or the Little Red Head. If they are regional chains, preferably North Carolina-based, I will have those (talking to you, Cook Out). All burgers under consideration must be available on a regular basis — a consistent menu item. There have been a couple of burgers that were “made special” for me but while I did document them and share them on Instagram, I can’t enter them into the list. The submission must be available to everyone.
I am restricting this to the Winston-Salem area only. Once this is over, I may spread across the Triad, but for now, I’m keeping it in Winston. After all, the “Town” in the Man Who Ate the Town is Winston-Salem. Rest assured, I am taking submissions from my friends, podcast listeners and readers of my blog as I need to make sure I have the whole town covered.
Then there’s the health aspect. I have been eating healthier lately, and I don’t want to regress on that. I recently found out that my doctor follows me on social media. Talk about a weird conversation. My wife watches what I eat, too. So I made a promise to both my wife and doctor that I would have no more than three burgers a week, and that I would increase my green veggie and fruit intake to sort of balance it out.
So far, my list is full of surprises. Some places that I thought would be great have turned out average products, while some that I dreaded going to have been out of this world. I stopped predicting how I would like a burger after the first week; now I try to clear my head of expectations and just let the burgers speak for themselves.
There will be categories, as most diner burgers cannot be compared to gourmet burgers and vice versa. I am not saying that one is better than the other; I let each stand on its own merit. I find that the right accoutrements can make an outfit better and that is certainly the case with burgers. Certain buns work better than others, and some configurations are just for flash and excess. The ones that fit the burger best gets higher marks. All of this is considered; I keep a spreadsheet to document my findings.
So far, I’m sticking to the regimen, but I’ve still got a lot of burgers to eat before Labor Day.
I just keep reminding myself that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.