Burger-scented smoke filled the air last weekend in South Beach as thousands of foodies took to the sands behind the Ritz Carlton to celebrate the country’s best burgers for this year’s Heineken Light Burger Bash—South Beach Wine and Food Festival’s signature event.
Attendees were welcomed by white tents offering all types of burgers one can possibly imagine. From meats inspired by Latin flavors to Southern-style briskets, there was a burger guaranteed to satisfy even the most particular of palates.
After her impressive 11-year run as host, Rachel Ray was replaced by Guy Fieri. The Food Network rockstar added his own twist to the event with his signature high-energy presence and no-filter sense of self-expression. He was joined by a star panel of judges including Andy Cohen, Lele Pons, and Zac Posen, who helped Fieri find “The Very Best Burger,” also known as the Critic’s Choice Award.
Dozens of restaurants from across the nation competed in the event as they sought to take home one of the three major awards. Local participants included Tap 42, Kush, and Pincho Factory. Ultimately, two Miami-area restaurants won two of the major awards, including the highly coveted People’s Choice Award.
Kendall-based restaurant Barley won the Red Robin’s Best of the Bash award. The franchise awarded Barley owner Jorgie Ramos with $10,000 and his “Latin Burger” will be featured on Red Robin’s menus for a year. The aptly named Latin Burger is a perfect representation of Miami’s Latin culture as a sandwich—it comes with chorizo, sweet plantain, manchego cheese and chimichurri mayonnaise.
Swine Southern Table & Bar took home the most important award of the night: The People’s Choice Award. The restaurant won the recognition for its signature Swine Burger—a short rib and chuck blend, with house-smoked pork belly, covered in American cheese, and served on a potato roll. The burger can be found any day of the week on the menu of their restaurant located on Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables.
Miami missed out on the hat-trick of awards thanks to chef Alex Guarneschelli’s New York-based Butter and its Critic’s Choice Award-winning “2 Mikes Burger,” a blackened cheeseburger with applewood bacon jam, jalapeño, and sunchoke relish.
While winning all three major awards would’ve filled Miamians with a huge sense of pride, the significance of winning two awards at this prestigious event can’t be understated. Miami’s gastronomic scene has grown exponentially in the last decade, and this year’s Burger Bash just serves as a testament to the city’s growing status as one of America’s finest culinary capitals.
Check out the gallery below!