Jonathan's the Rub Sweeps the 2011 Burger Bracket

Categories: Burger Break

burger-bracket1.jpg
Photos by Dawn McGee
Ricky Craig, owner of Hubcap Grill, constructed one of 32 burgers.
Virginia Commonwealth University may not have advanced to play in last night's national championship NCAA game, but another underdog team ended up sweeping a Final Four at yesterday's 2011 Burger Bracket Championship.

Jonathan's the Rub, a small steakhouse in Hedwig Village, swept the championship tasting in an overall upset last night at Lucky's Pub to beat three of the city's best and most popular burger joints: Hubcap Grill, The Burger Guys and Petrol Station.

It was a sweet victory for a team headed up by Ryan Cunningham, Jonathan Levine's nephew and a recent graduate of the University of Texas. Levine himself was in Florida attending to his father, but young Cunningham helmed the team like an old pro.




burger-bracket-the-final-four.6180395.87.jpg
The team from Jonathan's the Rub held a temporary cookout in the parking lot to get their 32 burgers grilled.
Out in the rear parking lot of Lucky's, the bright purple and bright red of The Burger Guys' and Hubcap Grill's trucks, respectively, stood in colorful contrast to the simple charcoal pit Cunningham and several of Jonathan's line cooks used to grill up the burgers before running them indoors to the judges, more than 100 of whom stood ready to eat and cast their ballots.

In Lucky's kitchen, the pub had generously given over a large work space to fellow bar owners Petrol Station. Burgers were flying into the judging room from all sides, and the line moved quickly but surely as people contemplated only briefly before voting on their favorites.

burger-bracket-the-final-four.6180403.87.jpg
The Burger Wolf Pack team brought half the Saint Arnold brewing team with them.
At 6:40 p.m., we removed the ballot boxes and took them outside to count the votes. Our team of "professional" judges -- Team Pola Cheese, Carnivorous Habits, the Burger Wolf Pack and Team Thomas Family -- had been given their own special tokens for voting: basketball-shaped erasers. Each eraser counted for three votes; each regular token from the 100 public judges counted for one.

Emptying the boxes one by one, it quickly became apparent which one would be the winner: While the three other burger joints had the judges' basketball tokens somewhat evenly distributed within the pile of white tokens, Jonathan's the Rub had nine of the sixteen basketballs within its ballot box. Praised by our judges for its chargrilled meat with a secret rub containing ingredients that -- like the rubs on his steaks -- Levine won't reveal to anyone, even his nephew, as well as its eggy Sheila Partin hamburger buns, Jonathan's was the clear champion.

burger-bracket-the-final-four.6180393.87.jpg
The winning team.
Announcing the winners was a tribute to the professionalism and good sportsmanship of all four teams. After Jonathan's was crowned championship, hugs and handshakes were distributed with easy grins and genuine cries of congratulations. The "beardos" at Petrol Station even tried jokingly to insert themselves into the background of the winning team's photos as our photographer snapped away.

And while not all of the judges agreed with the final outcome of the votes, it seemed that a truly deserving team had won through hard work and pure talent. One of Jonathan's line cooks cried softly while Cunningham told me that he'd called his uncle in Florida with the good news. "He started crying," Cunningham said. "So did his dad."

For more photos from the Burger Bracket Championship, check out our slideshow.



Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

Location Info

Jonathan's The Rub

9061 Gaylord St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
28 comments
jayforrest
jayforrest

Hello I am Jonathan's grandson do you know that the Second restaurant Will be coming out in August 1/14

Marc Lawrence
Marc Lawrence

I've been frequenting jonathon's for over a year now. I remember the first thing I ever ordered was the burger. It just got better from there!

Ridge
Ridge

I was there and voted JtR was good but only second to Petrol Station. I think Petrol only lost because they were late to the competition a costly error...

Jamie
Jamie

Unless JtR got every single vote, methinks you're using "sweeps" incorrectly.

Manana
Manana

I'm very disappointed that Burger Palace is not even on the bracket, which in my opinion, has the best burger I've ever eaten in Houston.

Mike Calimbas
Mike Calimbas

Jonathan's food, burgers included, never disappoints. Definitely a fan of the Rub!

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

Very interesting. Jonathan's had very little buzz for their burger before this event. It will be interesting to see if the burgers they serve to customers measure up to those made for this contest.

Laurie
Laurie

What no pic of the winning burger?

Michael Enak
Michael Enak

I did have a JtR burger way back just after Robb reviewed the restaurant for HP, and it was very good. Congrats to the winners!

Jonathan's The Hissyfit
Jonathan's The Hissyfit

... then Jonathan showed up, slapped the burgers out of everyone's hands before they could take a bite, then screamed at them to all "GET OUT!!!"

Kyle
Kyle

May the worst burger win!

But anyway, thanks for running the bracket and the event. All 4 of the finalists had a pretty good burger.

DysonMadison
DysonMadison

"Very interesting".....Why is Albert always talking about 'buzz'?

He should come out of the closet and hook up with some guy who's job it is to actually create buzz, oh what do you know: http://www.gabecreatesbuzz.com...

Funny, they both work to create 'buzz' for the Vallones!! See them performing together, commenting on Yelp and CultureMap to create...what?...yep...buzz!!

I thought Jonathan's burger was killer, if politically incorrect.

Guest
Guest

Is it 'very interesting?'Really?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

All of the pictures that we have from last night are in the slideshow! :)

Fear2stop
Fear2stop

I bet Alison Cook's not happy that the asshole won.

KryingKyle
KryingKyle

More like the city of Houston wins for having so many good burger options. Don't be such a negative nancy.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I swear it was just you and the Carnivorous Habits team that didn't like the Jonathan's burger. LOL! Both the Saint Arnold team and the Thomas Family team called it after judging was over/before the ballots had been counted. Burger fight! ;)

Bruce R
Bruce R

I bet Alison is perfectly fine with Jonathon winning the burger contest.

rumblefish
rumblefish

who cares!? Cook probably needed to be knocked down a few pegs, to say the least. She should be kicked to the curb on occasion. She'll always find safe haven with the likes of Rucker, JJ, Huegel, Caswell and the others she rams down our throats on a weekly basis

Kyle
Kyle

Jonathan's had that back-yard char taste, which certainly has its appeal, but the meat itself seemed not quite as good as some of the others.

I will say this, all 4 burgers had a beautiful red center. It's virtually impossible to get a burger cooked properly like this at a lot of burger places in town, so kudos to them all.

vext
vext

Kudos on the research, Phoenext, the difference between "buzz" and "buzz off".

Fear2stop
Fear2stop

She was still a paying customer and should have been treated as such. I guaran-damn-tee if he had pulled that stuff with me, I'd be in jail right now lol

Wyatt
Wyatt

This argument is getting pretty sexy

Kyle
Kyle

Why would she need to be knocked down a few pegs? Why shouldn't her steak be cooked to order? What's wrong with the 4 you mentioned and why do you feel she is ramming those 4 down your throat on a weekly basis?

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...