Burger Bash

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Table Side Burger at SideDoor | photo by Anne Watson

Inaugural OC Burger Week tempts with deals including special sides and sips through July 20.

By Sharon Stello


There’s nothing quite as satisfying as biting into a big, juicy burger. Whether it’s a simple, cheeseburger that can be held in one hand or a towering temptation that’s piled high with toppings and needs to be eaten with a knife and fork, there’s something comforting about this classic fare.

Often found sizzling on barbecues throughout summer, this season is a celebration of the ever-popular patty between two buns, especially as OC Burger Week continues through Saturday, July 20. The inaugural week started Sunday with special deals at dozens of restaurants around Orange County including several in Newport Beach. Prices range from $10 to $25 and include a burger—beef, bison, turkey, chicken, mushroom and veggie patties are being served—as well as a variety of sides and beverages from which to choose.

Among the creative combinations are a burger smothered in spicy mac ’n’ cheese at Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in Newport; a lamb burger with goat cheese aioli at Juliette Kitchen & Bar in Newport; a beef burger topped with barbecue pork belly at 17th Street Grill in Tustin; crabcake burgers at Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails in Irvine; a Gorgonzola-stuffed burger at Salt Creek Grille in Dana Point; and burgers topped with pulled carnitas or jalapeno and serrano peppers at Avila’s El Ranchito in Santa Ana.

Several restaurants are showcasing over-the-top burgers—think pork belly, pate, grilled octopus and more—crafted by their chefs in partnership with Neil Saavedra, host of “The Fork Report” radio show.

In Newport, eateries participating in OC Burger Week include Back Bay Bistro, Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, Cappy’s Cafe, Fable & Spirit, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Great Maple, Juliette Kitchen & Bar, Olea, SideDoor, The Quiet Woman and Zov’s.

At Back Bay Bistro, there’s no basic beef to be found. For $15, choose from a bison burger with garlic-chive blue cheese, homemade buffalo sauce, garlic aioli, hickory-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion on a brioche bun; a vegan burger with a black bean-and-corn patty, cilantro pesto, chipotle aioli, avocado, goat cheese and arugula on a whole wheat bun; or turkey with sundried tomato and basil spread, basil aioli, grilled peppers, hickory-smoked bacon, arugula, tomato, onion and bean sprouts on a whole wheat bun. Choose from truffle or sweet potato fries as a side. Then, add a Burger Week cocktail like the Bay Runner Blackberry Mojito or Basil Jalapeno Margarita for an extra charge.

For $20, Bosscat is serving up the Return of the Mac, with beef patties, spicy mac ’n’ cheese, bacon and tomato; the Bacon & Blue, comprising beef patties, bacon, blue cheese, maple-onion jam, mayonnaise and spinach; and the Beyond Avocado, featuring a Beyond Burger plant-based patty, topped with cheddar Jack cheese, crispy onions, avocado and creamy ranch dressing, crispy onions, tomato and sprouts. Your burger comes with both fries and a dessert: red velvet churros. Add a special Kentucky Cooler cocktail, which mixes whiskey, India pale ale and pineapple and orange juices, for an added charge.

Cappy’s Cafe is also offering $20 options: the Hangover Cheeseburger, layered with lettuce, tomato, avocado, your choice of cheese and dill pickles; a turkey cheeseburger, with the same toppings as the Hangover sans avocado; a Garden Burger rendition, with avocado but no cheese; the Jalapeno Burger, featuring diced jalapenos, your choice of cheese and an onion ring, served with barbecue sauce; and a chili cheeseburger, served open-faced on a brioche bun, covered with chili and cheddar cheese and topped with avocado. For a side, select french, waffle or sweet potato fries, onion rings, fruit, coleslaw, potato salad or cottage cheese. Cappy’s burger menu also includes a cold draft beer, glass of house wine or other nonalcoholic drink. Or, go with the eatery’s Burger Week cocktail, the Maker’s Mark Old Fashion, for an extra fee.

At Fable & Spirit, a new Irish restaurant in town, choose between the House Ground Creekstone Farms Steak burger or Mary’s Free Range Crispy Chicken Sandwich, each $20. The former comes piled high with crispy buttermilk shallots, brie fondue and bacon-and-sweet onion jam, while the latter features gochujang (red chili paste) aioli and pickled serrano slaw. These come with a salad of Kenter Farms mixed greens or white truffle thyme fries. Add a cocktail for an added cost: the Donnelly Visa, which mixes vodka, grapefruit, lemon, elderflower and basil, or the Out of the Ordinary, a blend of rye, strawberry-rhubarb, lemon, sugar and Peychaud’s bitters.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar offers a starter—seasonal soup or a chopped salad—followed by the choice of a mushroom-farro burger, Surf & Turf Burger or California Burger and then dessert: either New York cheesecake or a gift box of Fleming’s house-made truffles, all for $20. The first burger features a patty made in house from mushrooms, chickpeas and farro, topped with goat cheese, fried onion rings, arugula and Campari tomatoes. The Surf & Turf option includes prime beef, a crabcake, remoulade, arugula and tomato. Meanwhile, the California choice is a classic bacon cheeseburger with avocado and tomato, but with the added heat from smoked jalapeno aioli.

Great Maple also goes the first-and-second-course route with a cup of seasonal soup, mini modern Caesar salad and truffled deviled eggs offered for the appetizer, followed by three burger options for $20. The Steakhouse Burger comes with aged white cheddar, aioli, pickled red onions, tomato and arugula. The GM Turkey Burger has melted brie, caramelized onion marmalade, aioli and arugula. And the La Jolla Veggie Burger patty brings together mushrooms, ancient grains and almonds, then layers on aioli, smashed avocado, pickled red onions, tomato and arugula.

Juliette Kitchen & Bar offers two options: a BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger slathered with house-made barbecue sauce and smoked paprika aioli, then topped with smoked bacon, aged cheddar cheese and fried shallots on a Portuguese roll, or a lamb burger with goat cheese aioli, roasted pepper-and-onion relish, Kalamata olive tapenade and arugula on a Portuguese roll, for $15. Add a Makers 46 cocktail for an extra charge.

Over at Olea, the Burger Week menu is straight forward but decadent. For $25, diners can dig into the American Wagyu Burger and house-made herb fries paired with a glass of Martin Ray Synthesis cabernet sauvignon. The burger features Hook’s two-year-aged cheddar cheese, caramelized shallots, secret sauce, organic butter lettuce and heirloom tomato on a soft potato bun.

SideDoor in Corona del Mar also goes with a one burger option for $20, but what a burger it is. The Table Side Burger comprises a “butcher’s table blend patty” made of short rib, brisket and rib-eye, layered with sliced pastrami, provolone cheese, onion rings, jalapeno “bottle caps,” pickles and tomatoes, all drizzled with homemade cheddar sauce, on a brioche bun and served with fries.

Also in CdM, The Quiet Woman offers a $15 lunch or $20 dinner. Start with a shot of the Sugar Dog, the restaurant’s signature cocktail made with vodka, grapefruit, lime and agave nectar with a sugar rim, then belly up for the burger: Try the QW Classic with Black Angus beef, Swiss, cheddar or jalapeno Jack cheese, “frizzled onion” and pickle; the QW Turkey with a house-blended patty of fresh-ground turkey breast, onion, oatmeal and wheat germ, topped with tequila-lime barbecue sauce, miso mayo, house-made tomato jam, caramelized onions, Swiss, cheddar or jalapeno Jack cheese, avocado and pickle; or the Beyond Burger with a plant-based Beyond Meat patty, melty smoked Gouda, caramelized onions, arugula, tomato and pickle, all served with classic fries. Add a glass of Duckhorn Decoy merlot or Daou Pessimist red blend wine for an extra charge.

Zov’s includes the alcohol in its Burger Week offerings. For $15, receive a choice of three draft beers with either the Classic Burger—Angus beef, brie and dijon aioli on a signature bun—or the Crispy Chicken Burger—Moroccan-breaded chicken breast and roasted red pepper mayo, Greek herb coleslaw, tomato and house dill pickles on a butter brioche bun—plus a choice of french fries, Zov’s Famous Lentil Soup or a mixed green salad. For $25, diners get a glass of Patz & Hall pinot noir, the luxe Drunken Surf & Turf burger—Angus prime beef, Cajun whiskey-marinated shrimp, Maker’s Mark sweet barbecue glaze, remoulade, smoked Gouda, crispy onions and house dill pickles on a seasoned brioche bun—plus the same choices for sides as the $15 menu.

With so many burgers and less than a week left, we’re hoping they bring back OC Burger Week next year because there’s no way to try them all. For more information, visit burgerweek.com.


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