Summertime is burgertime, and we look at faves from area restaurants for our own backyard grillin' inspiration
The best burgers in Virginia Beach and Norfolk
Although the family tree for the hamburger includes Mongolia, Russia and Germany, suffice to say it is an All American dish, adopted by this nation about a century ago and revered for its delicious dichotomy of being simple yet complex all at the same time.
They are certainly enjoyed year-round, but summertime seems to become burgertime; these sandwiches are ubiquitously found at backyard soirees from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Jimmy Buffet, the unofficial musician of the season, offers his take on the perfect burger: a platform that includes melting cheese on top, garnished with lettuce and tomato, and drizzled in Heinz 57. And of course, served with french fried potatoes.
We looked at some of our favorite restaurant burgers for further inspiration on how to craft our own backyard creations and elevate something basic into something brilliant.
1215 George Washington Memorial Hwy., Yorktown
(also a location in Hampton)
County Grill Burger—a beef burger pit-grilled, basted with housemade barbecue sauce, and topped with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and mushrooms.
Burgers and barbecue—what a combination! Our dish also bastes the burger with a housemade barbecue sauce, but we top that with a generous amount of smoky, pulled pork barbecue and melting white cheddar cheese before adding a bit of creamy Southern-style cole slaw.
1956 Laskin Rd., Virginia Beach
Haystack Burger—this beef patty is topped with Gorgonzola cheese, crispy fried onions, and house barbecue sauce before being served on a bun branded with the Just George’s logo.
With our creation, we mix blue cheese with a little heavy cream until it is a spreadable consistency, and give the beef patty a good coat before topping with a few classic fried onion rings and a few shakes of hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
Note: you can purchase ready-made or order custom branding irons for food from many online retailers: Google for search results.
Dog Street Pub
401 W. Duke of Gloucester St., Williamsburg
Brat Burger—this is a burger patty made with ground veal and pork, then topped with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and housemade sauce.
Although beef is typically the meat of choice for burgers, experiment with other types, too: ground veal, pork, turkey, chicken, bison, even tuna are all options.
Our burger is a patty of beef and breakfast-style sausage, grilled, then topped with caramelized onions, melting Swiss cheese, and a premium grainy brown mustard.
1624 Laskin Rd., Virginia Beach
Chesapeake Burger—a beef patty topped with lump crabmeat, fresh mozzarella and garnished with spinach.
Yum! A beefy homage to the great estuary includes one of the Bay’s signature calling cards—crab. For our burger, we make a simple crabcake the same size and thickness of the beef patty to create a double-decker and top it with melting mozzarella and a pesto we make from, among other things, spinach and Virginia peanuts.
80/20 Burger Bar
123 W. 21st St., Norfolk
Miss Thing Burger—a beef patty topped with pimento cheese spread, braised pork belly, and buttermilk batter-dredged fried onion rings.
We love the idea of pimento cheese atop a burger, so we pile it on high. Another alternative: make an indenture in the burger before grilling, tuck in some pimento cheese, and fold over to seal for a delicious surprise when folks bite in.
In place of pork belly, we like Edwards of Surry’s bacon steak, which is a thick, quarter-inch slice of hickory- smoked bacon.
We top our creation with french fried onions for crunch and flavor.