Sweet 16: The 2012 Burger Bracket Begins

Categories: Burger Break

Let the games begin...
The Final Four venue has been secured.

The judges have been chosen.

The Sweet 16 have been selected.

The 2012 Burger Bracket commences today.

The 16 competitors listed below will compete in one of four brackets: Fancy-Pants, Fast Food-Style, Extreme and Veggie, categories as defined by our Burger Bracket rulebook at A Hamburger Today.

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Photo illustration by Monica Fuentes
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The one category you won't see in AHT's style guide, however, is the veggie burger. The good folks at Serious Eats and AHT do not consider veggie burgers to be "burgers" because the patty isn't made of beef, and rightly so.

But we here at EOW wanted to see how four of the city's best veggie burgers -- which are delicious in and of themselves, and not as meat-mimicking substitutes for real hamburgers -- would fare in an overall burger competition nevertheless. I'm a devout carnivore myself, and even I would have a hard time choosing between a fried egg-topped burger from The Burger Guys and a Dirty Burque from Green Seed Vegan. And I'm not even trying to be contrary.

As with our last Burger Bracket, one burger from each category will eventually advance into the Final Four. This means the showdown on Monday, April 2, will feature a fast food-style burger, an extreme burger, a fancy-pants burger and, yes, a veggie burger. And you'll be the final judges.

We're inviting our readers out to Distillery 2520 (at the corner of Houston Avenue and White Oak) on April 2 to watch the NCAA Men's Basketball championship game and taste all four final burgers. The event is free, and your judgment is vital to determining the 2012 Burger Bracket champion.

Until then, wish our reader judges luck as they begin narrowing down each bracket. The Elite 8 will be announced on March 12.



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Distillery Twenty 5 Twenty - CLOSED

2520 Houston Ave., Houston, TX

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26 comments
Snitzer
Snitzer

Why isn't LANKFORD GROCERY in this event? They have the BEST burgers in town ?

Taffinder
Taffinder

Sam's Burgers, Fries & Pies - 1017 Dairy ashford has great burgers

D Rock
D Rock

With all the talk of the places that were unfortunately snubbed, seems like the Burger Bracket should follow March Madness' lead and expand the field, from 16 to 20. An extra spot per category maybe? A "play-in" game of sorts? I know Houston has at least 20 burger joints of note. More burgers for the lucky judges to sample and less bellowing from all of us as to who should've made it in. Just a thought.

Tim
Tim

Interesting, it seems like the categories didn't allow some of the better burger joints to be in the competition but, I understand your trying to make it interesting somehow.  

Imneverfull
Imneverfull

Disappointed Branch Water Tavern's burger isn't listed. 

Eric S
Eric S

I find it somewhat confusing that last year Burger Guys was "fancy," but this year they're "Extreme." Or that last year Bernie was "fancy" and this year is "fast food." There's too much overlap generally between the fancy and extreme categories. I would rather you have booted one of them to keep pub burgers. Could have had a good group with Petrol, El Gran Malo, Blackfinn and Hay Merchant (for example).

Also, to have now gone two years without Christian's, Lankford Grocery or Tornado Burger is kind of hard to understand. May I suggest that next year's wildcard be "Houston Classics" with those 3 and a 4th of your choice (Cream Burger or Stanton's or some such). Most people still think of Christian's and Lankford especially as serving some of the best burgers in Houston, and they deserve a shot at the title. 

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

That hamburger on the bracket board looks like Shilcutts M&M burger. Coincidence?

I also still can't get over the lettuce going on first. Patty, cheese, then the grass...TA

Ribalding
Ribalding

Burger Guys vs. Max's must be the burger equivalent of a 7/8 game in the NCAA tournament.  Hard to pick a winner, there.

cashhuge.com
cashhuge.com

to all....

my best friend's aunt br0ught in $14323 past week. she is making m0ney 0n the c0mputer and b0ught a $498200 h0me. All she did was get lucky and put into w0rk the steps sh0wn 0n that web site ab0ve

Lennieambrose
Lennieambrose

Hey! We here at Team Saint Arnold have a few questions... 1) How were the 16 chosen? 2) Why are a few holdovers from last year but most are new 3) Why is the reining champ, Jonathan's not in the field to defend their title?

Spy_1981
Spy_1981

Where is Lankford's Grocery?

SirRon
SirRon

comment containing a countdown coming in... oh -- never mind.

Fred T.
Fred T.

Negative veggie burgers comments coming in 3, 2, 1....

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I think that "Houston Classic" is an awesome idea for the Wild Card category next year. You may not even want to know what we were already discussing for that category in 2013, but I'll take Houston Classics under serious advisement.

As to the styles, chalk that up to a lot of well-deserved criticism last year about which burgers ended up in which brackets. We took all of that to heart this year and tried to come up with better-fitting categories for the burgers, hence The Burger Guys ending up in "Extreme," for example.

One thing worth mentioning: We expect all of the Final Four competitors to be able to prep and serve 25 burgers at the Championship tasting each year. I know that this wouldn't be a possibility for some burger joints -- including a couple of my personal favorites -- and so the field of competitors is narrowed quite a bit with this restriction...

H-town strEATs
H-town strEATs

Never doubt the wild card. We accept this challenge. Thanks Shilcutt!

Pm
Pm

Except since there are only 16 seeds to this tourney it would technically be more like a 1/4 or a 2/3, which makes a winner no easier to select.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

1) The 16 were chosen based on burgers I wished that we'd had room for last year as well as new upstarts who have the potential to be big-time burgers, like the Longhorn cheddar burger from Down House.

2) There are a couple of holdovers (namely The Burger Guys and Hubcap) because I felt it would be asinine to do a burger contest and exclude two of the city's most recognizable and respected burger joints. Our readers may disagree (and are welcome to do so) -- and I'm not trying to handicap the judges -- but these two make what are arguably some of the best burgers in town. It just felt wrong to exclude them.

3) When you win a Burger Bracket Championship, your jersey is retired so to speak. In another few years, I'd ideally love to do an all-Final Four bracket where the winners from the past four years all go head-to-head!

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

In an Ironic twist, my team has been chosen to deal with the Veggie bracket.  Since my entire team is similar to Ron Swanson when it comes to burgers, this will be interesting.  That said, I'll be completely honest when it comes to how these burgers really are.

Bruce R
Bruce R

No negative comments from me, that's for sure.  Veggie burgers are the shemales of the burger world.

Does anyone know if there will be a gluten free category for those of us that are gluten intolerant?

Sam Brown
Sam Brown

Should have filled all 16 spots with Carl's, Jr.  What a let down, Shilcutt.

SirRon
SirRon

 I ironically eat pieces of vegetables for breakfast. (better version than my drunk comment)

SirRon
SirRon

I eat pieces of irony for breakfast.

Natachees
Natachees

Natachee's veggie burger is also gluten free!

Solistudio
Solistudio

green seeds burger is gluten free

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