Where’s the Beef? 11 Alternative Burgers Without an Ounce of Moo in Them

We have absolutely no problem with a classic beef burger – like we could turn down an American icon? – but, sometimes we want to switch up our routine. Luckily, Angus ain’t the only protein in play in the patty game anymore. Chefs are utilizing unconventional meats sourced from the land and sea. From shrimp and salmon to kangaroo and bison, these burgers are far from your average Big Mac. Here are 11 alternative burgers that buck the convention that is beef.

Azu, Ojai, California
This is one lean, green burger machine. The primo patty is forged out of grass-fed, fat-marbling-free bison. Don’t worry, there’s still some gluttony involved. It comes topped with onion jam, Gorgonzola, and bacon — and there’s a side of fries. Make a reservation at Azu.

Alternative Burgers

Badmaash, Los Angeles, California
Sacred cows are left out of the equation when it comes to making these alternative burgers. Instead, well-spiced lamb takes the lead. Served on a brioche bun, they come with red onion ringlets, iceberg lettuce, juicy Roma tomato slices, and paprika-pepped mayonnaise. Make a reservation at Badmaash.

Alternative Burgers

The Commoner, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Chef Dennis Marron didn’t want to follow the flock when he was designing his burger. So he created one out of lamb to stand out from the herd. It comes capped with Moroccan-spiced aioli, Indian relish, and whipped goat cheese. Make a reservation at The Commoner.

Alternative Burgers

Sambar, Culver City, California
Here’s one done the Bombay way. The chicken burger comes with a plethora of flavor-boosting toppings, including crispy chicken skin, hempseed chutney, and summer fruit chutney. Warning: it may inspire you to book a trip to India — and we will not cover the cost of the ticket. Make a reservation at Sambar.

Alternative Burgers

Sepia, Chicago, Illinois
We want this burger baaad. Sorry, couldn’t resist. The Middle Eastern-inspired round is made with lamb and finished off with pickled eggplant, fiery harissa aioli, and feta crumbles. Make a reservation at Sepia.

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Portland’s Chefs Fired Up; High Cal Inaugural Lunch; Burgers Okay with Exercise

ESPN hires a new head chef. Hilarity ensues.

Food and dining news from around the web and the world…

* Didn’t get invited to the inaugural luncheon? Your waistline will thank you — it was a 3,000 calorie meal! [Washington Times]

* The tipping point. That moment when you start to hear a chef’s name everywhere. [Grub Street Chicago]

* Get the burger. And then get to the gym. [Business Insider]

* Portland’s chefs getting 86d. Some of the region’s best restaurants have parted ways with their revered chefs. [OregonLive]

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And, the Next OpenTable ‘My Foodie Valentine’ Dinner for Two Giveaway Goes to…

Do you get the feeling that Rob and Heather are serious burgerphiles? Me, too!

On behalf of everyone at OpenTable, congratulations to Heather McLeod of West Chester, Pennsylvania on being another lucky winner of the OpenTable ‘My Foodie Valentine’ Dinner for Two Giveaway. Heather, pictured here with her husband Rob, will receive a $200 AMEX or Capital One gift card to help them celebrate Valentine’s Day with another delicious dinner! Heather says, “This picture is of my best friend and husband Rob and I in San Francisco for my 28th birthday. This was one of the many restaurants we checked out on our vacation. This burger definitely got our attention! Can I go back now?” You can — and you can look us up when you do! Happy Valentine’s Day, Heather and Rob!

There’s still one more prize to be awarded. If you haven’t already, upload your entry to the OpenTable Flickr group today! Tune in again tomorrow as we announce the next winner.

Top Dining Trends for 2012: Kids at Restaurants Are Out; Bread, Spicy Foods Are In

When you think about it, is there anything that isn't fine about dining on a juicy burger, like this one from Elements in LA?

As we look back today at the top restaurants of 2011, we’re also looking ahead to next year. We recently surveyed our restaurant partners and OpenTable VIP diners to find out the top trends for 2012.

1. Babysitters are as important as reservations. You love your children, naturally, but your fellow fine diners? Not so much. Two-thirds of respondents would prefer you leave the little ones at home, even though just as many restaurants are more than glad to serve young foodies.

2. Bread is back. Carbs be damned; more than 60% of diners want to see bread on the table at the beginning of their meal — and they don’t want to have to ask for it, thankyouverymuch.

3. Almost everyone likes it hot. Nearly 90% of OpenTable diners want chefs to turn up the heat with spices.

4. Burgers are no longer rare. Three-quarters of guests surveyed welcome burgers on fine dining menus and half of fine-dining restaurants serve them.

5. Breakfast: It’s what’s for dinner. More than 80% of respondents would like to see breakfast food served all day. [Ed. note: Me, too!]

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