We went to Burgapalooza and ate EVERY burger so you didn’t have to
WORDS BY WHITNEY DUAN
Forget Coachella, Burgapalooza is where it was at last weekend.
No native American headdresses. No unbearable desert heat. No celebs pretending to be plebs. Just a bunch of kids with their burgers, indulging in #chublyf.
Over the weekend, Sydney’s best burger vendors, including Pub Life Kitchen and Bar Luca, banded together at Manning House to create the closest thing to heaven on earth - a festival dedicated to profound appreciators of steamed hams (it’s an Albany expression).
With reckless disregard for our health, Eden Caceda and I hit up the festival with open minds and mouths on Saturday morning with the intention of trying all 6 burgers on the official set list - that’s $60 dollarydoos in the name of completely selfless research.
On the way home, with our greasy limbs sprawled over the Uber, our pudgy bodies destroyed from burger-lovin’, I managed to encapsulate the entire experience in a wheezed whisper to Eden.
So you don’t have to get rekt like we did, from heavenly aiolis to questionable relishes, here’s a breakdown and definitive countdown of Burgapalooza’s burgers, from worst to best, complete with reaction gifs.
6. Ol Skool from Chef’s Kitchen
Wagyu pattie, beetroot relish, grilled onion, coral lettuce, tomato, American cheese, pickles, Umami ketchup and mustard
This beef burger wasn’t more exciting than something you’d get from the pub around the corner. Don’t be fooled by its “girl next door” aesthetic; the lazy and unchallenging flavour combination of patty, cheese, beetroot, salad and ketchup/mustard coupled with Homebrand-quality sesame bun was unexciting and didn’t deserve a place at the festival.
5. Barrio Bacon Classic from Barrio
Beef pattie, pickles, tomato, lettuce, red onion and awesome sauce.
Bacon is always a welcome addition to any sandwich so we were keen beans on this one. But alas, there’s only so much bacon can do to improve a burger. Although the “awesome sauce” and pickles helped cut through the bacon grease, it off-set the balance of the burger with too much acidity and not enough creaminess.
4. Son of Cock Fighter from Bare Grill
Southern fried chicken, guacamole, lettuce, cheese, bacon and Big Bare sauce
Fried chicken, bacon AND guac!? As the only burger featuring guac in the midst of an avo drought, this stall had one of the highest wait times. But it was all worth it for that smidge of green goop. Ultimately, there were too many elements with the mayo drowning out any interesting textures or flavours, but fried chicken is always satisfying as hell.
3. Old Boy from Milk Bar by Ish
Beef pattie, American Cheddar, bulgogi pork belly, kimchi, old boy sauce, crispy shallots on a sesame bun
This one was certainly not for unadventurous eaters like Eden, but this Korean fusion sandwich will blow your mind if have courageous taste buds. Sweet slices of pork bulgogi, spicy sour kimchi on top a classic beef patty and cheddar slathered in creamy sauce needs to be something on your culinary bucket list. Put it on right now.
2. A Lil Chester from Bar Luca
Wagyu pattie, American Cheddar, bacon bits, cheese and bacon ball crumbed onion rings, chipotle mayo, green tomato and jalapeno salsa
Hot fucking damn! I certainly belong to the “chilli makes shit better” camp of eaters, so Bar Luca’s addition to the festival was nothing short of impressive. Bacon bits definitely packed a salty punch, accompanying the sweetness of the onion ring which had caramelised beautifully within its crunchy bread-crummy coating, while the jalapeno salsa neutralised the fatty creaminess from the bacon cheese and chipotle mayo.
1. The Don from Pub Life Kitchen
14-day salt aged beef, black garlic & truffle aioli, American cheese, McClured pickles on a seasme seed bun
Don’t be fooled by this modest looking cheeseburger. It may not have very many elements but there was no competition as soon as Pub Life Kitchen introduced that black garlic and truffle aioli - the sauce that was so intensely eye-opening I had to question whether there were illicit substances involved. It simultaneously made and ruined my life. The first to sell out at Burgerpalooza, deservedly so, this burger had festy-goers looking like they had just consumed the Citizen Kane of edible experiences, triggering a burger-related existential crisis.
Weren’t enough pictures of burgers? Here’s my Snapchat story from Burgapalooza: