Savor: Burgerama

BY Staff

Every community in the country from sea to shining sea thinks they have the best burgers anywhere. Well … so do we and in our case it’s really true. There is a veritable burger bonanza here on the Azalea Coast. It’s a burger treasure trove a burger cornucopia a burger extravaganza a burger gold mine … But above all else it’s a Burgerama.

The Beach Burger
South Beach Grill
/ The perfect place to grab a bite before or after a day at the beach South Beach Grill home of the fabulous Lumina Burger (opposite) also serves an innovative mushroom burger which features six ounces of chargrilled greatness topped with is topped with mushrooms and onions sautéed in a red wine and rosemary demi-glaze and melted Swiss cheese and is served on a warm Kaiser roll with a side of chips coleslaw or fries. You’ll need a few extra napkins for this beach-side treat described by servers as a fork and knife burger. “It’s a little messy which makes it fun ” says Chef James Rivenbark Jr. 100 S. Lumina Avenue (910) 256-4646. —SK

The All American Burger (left) 
Rucker Johns / The aroma of Rucker Johns’ All-American burger meets arriving guests before they enter the popular Monkey Junction restaurant. When delivered to the table it’s garnished like a true burger — layered with mustard cheddar cheese tart bread-and-butter pickles fresh tomato red onion leaf lettuce and a smear of mayonnaise — and served with a boatload of savory cottage-fried potatoes. It will take two hands to rein in the flavor of this lean half pound of ground chuck patty cooked over a gas grill. Carolina Beach Road (910) 452-1212. —MM

The Burger with Heat
David’s Deli and Restaurant / David’s Deli has always been known for their fabulous burgers and now they’re spicing it up with an even more delicious way to experience this American classic. Every one of their not-your-everyday burgers is a masterpiece between buns. The Tex-Mex Burger seared with fajita seasonings topped with grilled peppers and onions and oozing with gooey cheddar jack cheeses is an “open-wide” proposition. Looking for something even spicier? Try the Rajun Cajun Burger with sautéed mushrooms and pepper jack cheeses. Packed with so many flavors there is no need for ketchup or mustard on these buns. 1984 Eastwood Road (910) 256-9070. —PB

The Blues Burger
Two Guys Grille / Whether you dine in or take out Two Guys’ old-fashioned burgers are plated with red-and-white checkered picnic paper no matter what the season. The centerpiece of the Bleu Bacon Burger is eight ounces of ground chuck enhanced with a house blend of spicy coarse black pepper salt onion powder Cajun spice and Montreal steak seasoning wedged between the layers of a gourmet sandwich roll garnished with seared bacon strips and slathered with tangy bleu cheese sauce. A few bites into this burger and you might need a bib … and possibly a knife and fork … to lick this kickin’ mouthful of flavor. On the side a trio of fries: moist planks of Idaho potatoes (fat) slender white shoestrings (skinny) and yams (sweet) which if you save for last are like dessert when dipped into the restaurant’s signature whipped cinnamon and sugared butter. Ask for it; but beware it’s addictive. Wrightsville Beach (910) 256-3339 and College Road Porters Neck and Independence Mall. —MM

Family-friendly burger
Cubbie’s / Cubbie’s is a “little-league-on-Saturday-come-as-you-are-type place ” laughs owner Scott Sawyer. There’s no hiding the friendly fun atmosphere of this local favorite and their burgers are just as inviting. Served Carolina Classic with mustard chili onions and slaw this messy creation delights patrons of all ages. If you want something a bit more adventurous try one of Cubbie’s featured burgers like the Southwest Burger with jalapenos cheddar cheese and ranch. It’s a great way to spice up a sit-down lunch. In a hurry? No worries. Sawyer says “It’s our goal to have all orders out in ten minutes or less.” 1016 S. College Road (910) 392-2970. —PB

The Revved Up Burger
Big D’s Garage / Gentlemen start your engines … and ride straight to Big D’s Garage. If you crave an all-American burger served in a biker bar/family-friendly atmosphere (and who doesn’t?) Big D’s delivers. Their chrome-patterned walls red leather seats and Harley-themed decorations are enough to bring out the bad boy in everyone. But don’t expect greasy roadside food from Big D’s. Their burgers are cooked to perfection featuring juicy Black Angus beef on Texas toast topped with fresh tomatoes and red onions served with your choice of a “sidecar.” 1620 S. College Road (910) 397-7881. —LH

The Mini Me Burger (right)
Brasserie du Soleil / No need to cross the ocean to get a taste of France; you can enjoy a French-inspired lunch-time favorite right here at Lumina Station. The mini-burgers at Brasserie du Soleil prove that bigger isn’t always better. The Angus beef brisket is freshly ground by the Brasserie chefs ensuring a fresh flavorful top-notch meal from start to finish. Four two-ounce patties topped with your choice of fromage — sweet and creamy gruyère or the tangy and crumbly Roquefort — caramelized onions and roasted tomatoes are served on toasted buttery buns with a centerpiece of crispy fries for both lunch and dinner. Bon Appétit! 1908 Eastwood Road (910) 256-2226. —SK

The Mediterranean Burger
Sweet & Savory Bake Shop & Café / The Athens Burger is served on a country sweet house-made roll lightly dusted with flour sliced and warmed on the flattop grill. The flavor of the lightly charred hand-patted burger is quenched with cool cucumber cubes mild white onion slices zesty goat cheese and lettuce and tomato served with lightly-spiced flash-fried potato crisps and a slender dill pickle spear. 1611 Pavilion Place (910) 256-0115. —MM

The Holy-Guacamole Burger (left)
Dixie Grill
/ In the heart of Historic Downtown Wilmington the Dixie Grill’s Santa Fe Burger will make your mouth water with every bite. This southwestern burger is served open-faced — so you can get a look at the super-fresh ingredients inside — on a whole wheat Kaiser roll with Jack and cheddar cheeses homemade guacamole shredded lettuce a slice of tomato and fried onions and is paired with extra-crispy sweet potato fries a perfect complement to the burger’s zesty chipotle-fresh flavor. Grilled up diner-style in full customer view the Santa Fe Burger is sure to draw in burger-lovers of all kinds. 116 Market Street (910) 762-7280. —SK

Going All the Way
Hamburger Joe’s Bar & Grill / Hamburger Joe’s has been the place to go for great burgers and entertainment since 2006. It’s hard to imagine anything better than their free outdoor concerts — twice a week — until that is you taste their burger served “all the way ” with chili slaw onions and two melted slices of American cheese. It tastes great on its own or slathered in Joe’s Sauce (their own secret recipe so don’t ask just eat). 7032 Market Street (910) 686-9225. —LH

The Lunch Counter Burger
Saltworks / Every all-American hamlet has a burger joint that’s been in business so long it’s an institution. In Wrightsville and Wilmington that joint is Saltworks established in 1951. Though Bob Hubbard who took ownership in 2003 thinks he is the sixth proprietor of the legendary lunch counter little has changed about the appearance of the place — stools booths and tables — in all that time. If ever there was a burger to melt in your mouth Saltworks’ signature house burger is it. Served on a Cobblestone Mills sesame seed bun the hand-formed patty is made fresh daily from 90-percent-lean ground chuck and cooked to order on the flat top. Have it your way or all the way with a juicy slice of German Johnson garden variety tomato and wedge of iceberg lettuce washed down with a cold beverage and a basket of crispy fried onion rings. 6301 Oleander Drive (910) 350-0018. —MM

New Burger on the Block
Cookout / No other joint can clog up the right lane of South College quite like Cookout. With service this fast and burgers this good it’s no wonder cars are stationed outside until closing hours. The smoky chargrilled patty is cooked outdoors-style and served with your choice of classic toppings on a soft bun. Try it Cookout Style with chili slaw mustard and onions or choose any of their other famous combinations. With a price as unbeatable as the taste you’ll be switching on your right turn signal again real soon. 715 S. College Road (910) 399-2656. —PB

Back-to-Basics Burger (right)
P.T.’s Olde Fashioned Grille / At P.T.’s sticking to the basics has never tasted so good. No need to fancy-up an American classic — their mouth-watering eight-ounce Olde Fashioned Burger is served the way a hamburger was meant to be — fresh off the grill steaming hot nestled beside a heap of deliciously seasoned golden-brown fries. P.T.’s Certified Angus Beef in a soft grill-warmed bun topped with American or Jack cheese melts in your mouth whether you dine inside or out at this Wilmington treasure. Military Cutoff (910) 256-8850 and 17th Street Fountain Drive Monkey Junction and Porters Neck —SK

The Drive-In Burger
Merritt’s Burger House / Freshness is the name of the game at Merritt’s Burger House. How you ask does a 50-year-old drive-in burger joint keep things fresh after so many years? “We’re not like the chains ” says Gene Merritt of Merritt’s Burger House. “Everything here is made to order nothing is precooked.” Their famous cheeseburgers speak for themselves and have since 1958. 2338 Carolina Beach Road (910) 763-5844. —LH

The Old-School Diner Burger
Pender’s Café / In operation since the 1940s Pender’s Café in Historic Downtown Wilmington is a Port City classic … and so are their burgers. Their famous double-patty burger topped with lettuce tomato mayo pickle and mustard is as epic as the place itself. These hand-formed patties served with Pender’s signature crinkle-cut fries are well perfect diner food. 205 N. Front Street (910) 762-4065. —LH

The Custard Burger
Kohl’s / You may know Kohl’s for their frozen custard recognized as the “best frozen dessert on Earth!” But this local joint has way more than just sweet treats. Their jumbo burgers are a Wrightsville Beach classic and one of the tastiest bites around. Grab your patty with any of your favorite fixin’s — made fresh to order every time — and take in the beach air beneath a shady umbrella outside. This perfectly grilled sensation is a great addition to any day at the beach and will leave you wanting nothing more. Well maybe a custard cone. 92 S. Lumina Avenue (910) 256-3955. —PB

The Down Under Burger
Tazy’s Burgers and Grill / Tazy’s has been firing up the barbie and bringing a down-under vibe to the Port City since 1999. This Australian-themed dining establishment is famous for their Aussie Angus Burger: eight ounces of beef on a sesame French roll cooked with an exuberant blend of Aussie spices. If you’d rather hop home with less in your pouch try their four-ounce Joey Burger. 4107 Oleander Drive #H (910) 397-2944. —LH

by Stephanie Karampelas Patricia Brown Lucy Huber Marimar McNaughton