Burger Bracket 2012: Call for Judges

Categories: Burger Break

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Illustration by Doug Mac
It doesn't seem possible that nearly an entire year has passed since our inaugural Burger Bracket competition, in which we set out to determine the city's best burger in a March Madness-style breakdown that pitted four finalists (out of the original Sweet 16) against one another at Lucky's Pub: Petrol Station, The Burger Guys, Hubcap Grill and Jonathan's the Rub.

It was ultimately a dark horse that swept the Burger Bracket, just as Virginia Commonwealth University (whose mascot should be the Underdog) beat the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks to advance to the Final Four in last year's NCAA championships. Jonathan's the Rub won top honors, which means it's out of the running this year: We're out to find some new favorites for 2012.

We'll have four new brackets this year for the competition, with categories (once again) as defined by A Hamburger Today's style guide: Fancy-Pants Burgers, Fast Food-Style Burgers, Extreme Burgers and a special wild card bracket, Veggie Burgers.

Don't all scream at me at once.

If you have a suggestion for any of the four brackets, feel free to submit it below. But know that we're pretty much set on almost all of the 16 competitors, so make it a good submission. The more important matter at hand is the selection of 16 judges.

As with last year, we'll have four teams of four judges each that we'll send out into the city armed with a list of burgers to try and a stipend of cash. In other words, it's your chance to be a food burger critic for a few weeks. Last year's judges included teams from Pola Cheese and Saint Arnold as well as the cutest family ever, so step up that game when you tell us why you and your team should be judges this year.

Leave a comment below explaining why you and your group would be ideal judges for the Burger Bracket (and remember to leave a valid email address so we can contact you). You must apply as a team. Please note that your group must be ready and available for burger judging throughout the entire competition; no flakes need apply.

Managing editor Cathy Matusow will choose the four teams from the comments below and we will notify them of their judging duties by Friday, February 25. On the following Monday, February 27, the entire bracket of burgers will be revealed in all its juicy, cheesy, oozy glory. Start your countdown to March Madness now: the 2012 Burger Bracket has officially tipped off.



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43 comments
The A-Team
The A-Team

"The Administrators" are great at judging things. As current and former principals at YES Prep - named by Houston Press as Best School in 2007's Best Of Houston issue - we are asked to judge things daily. Whether it's the pesky corner of an untucked shirt or unfinished homework that needs to be redone, we know how to pick out the little things that make a big difference in sending students to college.  However, the tenacity with which we pursue the closing of the achievement gap pales in importance to the noble mission of clearly identifying Houston's best burger. And yes, our palettes may be dulled by repetitive cafeteria food. Our expectations may be lowered as we watch 7th graders subsist solely on the famed "Hot Cheetos Diet." But our ability to pursue greatness will never waver, our standards for the city's best hamburger will never lower. And besides, if there's one thing educators are good at, it's making a point about how they never get nice things. We friggin' deserve this. 

Adrienne Byard
Adrienne Byard

We're team badger and we're here to tell you we don't give a sh*t.

We walk backwards. We eat burgers. We don't care, we drink and eat burgers all day. We eat burgers 'till we pass out then we get up and eat MORE burgers because we're badgers and we just don't give a sh*t.

We have fun. Why? 'Cause we just don't give a sh*t. Burgers are the only thing we badgers care about. We have loose skin so that we can eat more burgers. So thanks for the meal stupid, and pick a team who truly takes what it wants: burgers.

Ryan Cunningham
Ryan Cunningham

Well maybe since we can't compete this year, the Jonathan's The Rub team should be one of the teams of judges. Come on Katharine :)

Sweetmomo1
Sweetmomo1

Crescent moon wine bar has awesome fancy pants burgers, and is worth the drive!

Burger Wars
Burger Wars

Burger Bracket . . . er moron clearly knows his Houston food.  Five star Michelin?No such thing.   Houston is still waiting for a single Michelin star.

Burger Bracket Dream Team
Burger Bracket Dream Team

Who better to judge the best burgers in Houston than four attorneys known for their discerning wit and discriminating palettes? Our mornings are spent pouring over the details most would overlook and using that minutia to make critical choices. Our afternoons and evenings are spent eating in the best places this city has to offer – from the Michelin 5 Star to the neighborhood dive to the catch it while it lasts taco truck. We will eat anything. We have eaten everything. Our never skurred attitude and finely tuned taste buds will lead us (and subsequently your readership) to the undeniably best burger in H-Town.

First on docket, we have, C-Live, the man for whom the phrase, “Work hard. Play harder,” was coined. His personal mantra: “I love bacon.”

Next up is Pania “I don’t give nobody a pass” P-Raff. Her reputation as a ball-buster means the wimpy burgers need not apply.  No fried egg? Forgetaboutit. No avocado? What is this, grade school?

The third judge is Saint on Sunday. When she eats a burger, the cow is satisfied.  Onions weep for the opportunity to adorn her burger. She served as Morgan Spurlock’s understudy in “Super Size Me.” The girl knows a good piece of meat, ohhhhkaaay?

Finally, our last judge is X-Man, the burger connoisseur.  He is the adopted son of both Fran and Dan. He treats his burgers like a porterhouse steak. He likes to take his time with them, savoring every juicy bite. Wait, are we still talking about food?  

Not choosing this group of judges, would be a crime…and we would know. We’re all well versed in the Penal Code. Still, if The Press gets charged, we would gladly represent you… for a burger.

Chris
Chris

My friends and are from the Houston area, however, we went to college in various parts of Texas. When we have gotten together over the years we have spent our time together journeying to taste what are considered the "best burgers in Texas" to pass our own judgement. We are all back in Houston now, and would be perfect judges because of our past burger experiences, our passion for Texas and the incomparable meats it provides!!

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Finally found enough folks to join in on my part, so I'll throw my hat in the ring, although I think it'd be more fun with Bruce R, Sir Ron, and Albert Nurick on the board, especially since I still haven't found a burger better than the Magic Burger at the now defunct Tesar's.  I leave a link in its memory...

 http://www.htownchowdown.com/2...

SirRon
SirRon

I wish I could be on a team with my commenter idols Bruce R and FattyFatBastard. And can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like floating bars. Goodnight.

Royale with Cheese
Royale with Cheese

I can't usually get 'em myself because my wife's a vegetarian which pretty much makes me a vegetarian. But I do love the taste of a good burger. Mm-mm-mm. You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France?

Anyway, with a vegetarian wife, I need an excuse to get out and find some tasty burgers. You could put our team on the vegetarian bracket and I could include my wife on the team (Beaver's & Houston's are the best two we've tried)...or you could put me on the meat bracket and I can find some hard, pipe-hittin' carnivores to tear through those burgers. Your choice, name the spot and we'll be there in three shakes of a lamb's tail.

So, pretty please... with sugar on top. Pick my fucking team.

Team Legal
Team Legal

Team Legal is ready for the challenge.  Our team consists of 4 attorneys, one of whom is a state appellate judge.  We are honest, opinionated, argumentative and fun.  We are comprised of 3 men and one woman who all love  to eat great hamburgers.

A group of honest lawyers too much to much to understand We are here to find the best burger in the land.

Let us be the judge of the 2012 Burger Bracket,We may drink a few beers, but won't cause a racket.

Team Legal is up for the challenge, ready to gain some weightKatherine, its our honor if you pick us, we will be there, name the date.

TQro
TQro

I'll submit my family of 4. 2 adults, 1 teenage girl, 1 boy.  If chosen, the email addy attached to my username is legit.

And I'd like to suggest the burger at Block 7 for entry if not already included.

BurgerAddict
BurgerAddict

As a minister in houston and a former restaurant reviewer during my undergraduate work, I think I would make an ideal judge.  I have experience (eating and writing about it).  Also, a team of ministers would know a lot about food since we eat all the time! 

I have done everything from exhausting burger joints in previous towns I've lived in to a week long journey of eating barbeque and writing about it. (check out the blog.... http://porkinainteasy.blogspot....  I have a team of clergy that would love to take the challenge of finding the best burger in Houston.  We are all fairly recent transplants and would look at this challenge with fresh eyes.

Contact me at tharper@wmbc.org

Jaime A Garcia
Jaime A Garcia

I believe that my team of judges would be the ideal group because all four of us come from different ethnicities. So basically, we are from different backgrounds, shapes, sizes and color just like hamburgers have come to be. We go hand in hand........

jrob
jrob

I think me and my four friends would make ideal jusdges because of our different cultural backgrounds. We range in palletable prefrences from decadent delectables to quaint simplicity. My team has eaten burger from Central America, to the Yucatan Peninsula, to  the Gulf coast, to the shores of Miami.

d'Artagnan
d'Artagnan

Using bad poetry will be my schemeTo enter The Three Burgerteers as a teamPlus me, I am their d'ArtagnanAll of us have the appetites of Paul BunyanWe're all gourmet home cooks in our own rightBut love searching for Houston's best burger biteA hard sear with a juicy medium-rare insideThe perfect patty is almost a Jekyll and HydeNot the blech dry grey hockey pucks of Big Macs or WhoppersMustard, grilled onions, bacon, & cheese are my ideal toppersMaybe nice, crisp lettuce or in-season tomatoesAnd of course a side of crispy, salty fried potatoesNice buns should never be ignored ;)I drive a crappy Ford.Sorry, I know that that last rhyme both sucks and blowsBut buns need to handle beefy juices and not decomposeSize matters too, at least bun to burger ratioWe take burgers as seriously as fellatioYeah, you read that rightBut for us, burgers do exciteSo pick us to eat your burgers and drink your beersBecause no one deserves to judge as much as the BurgerteersSo we say, "Tous pour un, un pour tous"As we drench ourselves in burger jus.

SirRon
SirRon

Whatever and whoever you and Cathy select, we will passionately hate it, because we weren't selected, and everyone knows that we could have done a better job. That's how the internets work as I understand it.

Eric S
Eric S

Once again team Carnivorous Habits submits our application for your consideration. You may recall us as the judging team of passionate foodies that took our assignment so seriously that we almost came to blows debating the merits of Plonk vs the Burger Guys. We might even still feel guilty that a burger made with guanciale, aka face bacon, wasn't permitted to advance to the finals. Alternatively, we think of ourselves as the team that didn't fuck up and bounce worthy candidates from the bracket before their proper time. Seriously, if we had been assigned steakhouse burgers, that mayonnaise drenched monstrosity from Jonathan's the Rub would have been bounced out early and the eminently worth Vic & Anthony's burger wouldn't have been kicked to the curb for stuffy atmosphere. You know how we deal with V&A's atmosphere? We sit at the bar and order enough beer that we think we're in our living rooms. 

While we're pretty sure that the picture of Theo in the burger at McDonald's propelled our application to victory, we also think we did a damn fine job with our assignment last year. For example, we were the first team to provide thorough tasting notes on each burger. Also, we take this shit seriously because getting EOW to fund our burger habits makes our friends crazy jealous. Out of honor, we owe it to them to do a good job, lest they mock us for many months. 

Just as reminder, a few words about each member of the team:

Victoria's devotion to burgers is so fearsome that she single-handedly persuaded Hubcap Grill to start serving a patty melt. The Viva melt on the menu at 19th street is named in her honor. Also, her baking prowess is so legendary that people adopt cats just to receive her homemade kolaches. In other words, she knows good food and is tenacious in her devotion to pursuing new dining experiences. 

Fulmer is a service-industry veteran who appreciates the subtleties of a 12 course degustation but is usually happier eating barbecue from a trailer or standing in line for Gerardo's barbacoa on the weekends. As part of a new fitness regime that resolutely DOES NOT include quitting smoking, he claims only to be eating one burger a month. That is completely unacceptable. Accept him as a judge just to break that silly resolution and put him back on the road to happiness through burger grease.

When Theo isn't playing in burgers, he's at home perfecting his technique for expertly smoked brisket. As he was born a filthy Yankee in Massachusetts, such devotion to Texan culture is admirable and worthy of being rewarded. Also, he's the only person in Houston excited about the Astros move to the AL. That shows an independence of mind that will serve him well in weighing the merits of the burgers we are assigned to consider. 

Regular visitors to EOW will recognize Eric as a frequent commenter on the blog who's usually championing some overlooked gem that was left off the latest top 10 list. A native Houstonian, a non foodie friend recently referred to him as "better than Siri" when it came to knowing where to get good eats. Whether that's meant to be a compliment or an insult isn't entirely clear, but there's no denying the man knows Houston's burger scene well. Also, his wife would appreciate you accepting his application, since his failure to lose a sufficient amount of weight means she gets a new tattoo. And don't we all love tattoos? 

So there you have it - last year's most committed, most passionate, most thorough judging team once again demands your consideration. Do the right thing and reselect Carnivorous Habits in 2012!

Krissybolt
Krissybolt

I see that it starts 2/27, but how long does it last?  I'd love to throw my team's hats in the ring, but 2 of us will be out of state for a week in mid-March.  Thanks!

Rolso72
Rolso72

The Nut Burger at Beavers is far and away the best non meat burger I or my wife have ever had.They are not even trying to emulate meat, and that's a good thing in this case.

Barron_beth
Barron_beth

I'm your woman! Funny, I am actually in the process of developing my " burger adventure" taking suggestions from all my friends and acquaintances for the best burger at a Houston and surrounding areas restaurant ( no chains) that have been in business for at least 10 years ( don't steal my idea ok? ;)) I have always secretly wanted to be a food critic! I try to try all new burger places but haven't tried the ones you have named thank goodness. I love all types of food , simple to gourmet but burgers are my favorite food. I am a committed, professional, and responsible person with a team of burger/food loving folks. Take us on and you won't be disappointed!

JP
JP

Reporting in for duty! Like all people volunteering for a task like this I consider hamburgers a perfectly sane food to eat. I believe I can scramble a talented team with taste buds of different ancestries. 

We are all folks in our late twenties that love and seek out good food, be it within our outside the Loop. Since we all come from different parts of the US and the world we can approach this delicate task from different angles. Also, we can be highly critical when criticism is called for.

And yes, did I mention we love burgers?

Texas_Teachers!
Texas_Teachers!

We are a team of four middle school teachers--so we are excellent at grading! We love burgers, and even have a team member who is very into the veggie burger scene. Two of us are from The Midwest, which gives us a certain street cred when it comes to beef. Between us we have 21 years of teaching experience, but are still (collectively) young enough to be cool (ish). We all love burgers, and although we are not well-known foodies, we do have a love of dive bars and are willing to do whatever it takes to crown a champion burger. Please pick us--choosing the city's best burger will help us have the coolest spring break ever! We promise to leave our red pens at home....

Awech03
Awech03

There are few better ways to enjoy an afternoon than hitting up one of Houston's iconic burger joints. I have traveled all across the state to try some of the best burgers in Texas, and I would be honored to judge in the 2012 bracket. The burger is my favorite meal, and I actually have a blog that highlights many of my experiences. Although my post are somewhat comical, I know how to judge a burger. Our team will consist of 4 males who are fresh out of college which is also known as prime meat consumption years. We will take our responsibilities very seriously and also make sure to have a ton of fun while providing much comic relief. Be sure to check out my posts.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

A couple of questions:  Do the judges pay for the meals, and does the team of 4 have to be all present when dining?

Travis Coggin
Travis Coggin

I don't care what you do so long as Guy's Meat Market is included.

JB
JB

Our team of judgesThe Spanish InquisitionAgrees to your terms 

rgwalt
rgwalt

I love a great burger!  While I have a deep love and respect for the "Texas" style burger, I can appreciate a wide variety of burgers, cheeses, toppings, etc., and I'm always up for trying something new!  The Veggie burger catagory doesn't scare me... instead I'm really intrigued!  I hope the Beaver Nut burger is one of the competitors!  My fiancee is a burger lover, too, and being a bit of a hippy, wouldn't mind fielding the veggie catagory, either.  Two of my best friends in town are burger fanatics, seeking out burgers from various corners of the metro area ranging from the cheap to the haut, to the wildest, hottest burgers around.  One of these two guys is a writer, the other a lawyer, and the debate and discussion on "who has the best burger in town" is a regular topic of conversation over beers.  In short, my team and I would be happy fielding ANY of the catagories in this competition, and we could provide interesting and insightful feedback on all of the burgers we try.

Finally, to chime in on my "burger chops", a few months ago I wrote a comment here on EoW on my most zen burger experience involving eating a Whataburger while walking down the street after a particularly long weekend, specifically the perfection of the burger and the moment, earning "Comment of the Day" status for my efforts.  I love burgers, and one of the most memorable experiences of my life involved eating a burger.  I would be proud to add to that list of experiences by judging for this competition.  Contact me at rgwalt_AT_gmail_DOT_com

Kristen Guzman
Kristen Guzman

My love for burgers is deeper than one could know. I will for l die with a bacon cheeseburger in my hand and I wish to be buried with one as well. The best combination of flavors: well seasoned meat, crisp thick cut bacon, smoky onions/eppers/mushrooms (when the mood strikes), fat slice of tasty cheese, fresh cut veggies, all on a warm toasted bun. I'm hungry now.

I'll find a qualified team.

Pkohler20
Pkohler20

I would be an ideal judge because I love burgers...all types, all kinds, all sizes. Nothing gets me ready to eat more than the promise of a great burger. On top of that some friends and I run a page on facebook called Houston Burger Masters that has a pretty decent following, and I was even picked by Whataburger to audition for a commercial of theirs for their Green Chile Burger.

I have a built in team of three burger critics and could easily find a fourth

Travis.
Travis.

All four of us have traveled many a mile and endured many a meat sweat in order to prepare ourselves for a challenge such as this.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

 Lol.  I like a bracket labeled "the commenters."  Perhaps with Albert Nurick?

WestSideBob
WestSideBob

Hey Freewheelin' ... it's been almost a year since your last blog.  Are you not so freewheelin' lately ?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

As stated in the post, judges will be given money for their burgers. Last year, we had them save their receipts and then reimbursed the teams via checks. Not everyone has to be present while eating the burgers, but everyone needs to try them and vote on which burger will advance to the next bracket.

Pkohler20
Pkohler20

This is not a self promotion...just rather than post about each member of the group I will instead link you to our facebook page so you can check out our qualifications first hand.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/... 

You will not a find a more willing group of people who love burgers than us. And we will find a fourth with no problem at all.

It would be an honor to be chosen to participate in the Burger Brackets

Thanks

SirRon
SirRon

If we agree on anything it is that everyone else is wrong... and we have an example that proves it. I'm just saying.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

i just want a picture of the four of you, together, with nametags, please! 

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