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They came. They ate. But they couldn’t quite make up their minds. In a first, Burger & Barrel’s bash burger tied Guy Fieri’s bacon mac n’ cheese burger in the people’s choice award category, confirmed after three separate counts, according to host Rachael Ray. While the Food Network star’s popularity and ability to excite a crowd undoubtedly made him a favorite, every New York City restaurant came to play with something unique.
Competition was fierce. Commerce opted for a homemade roll to highlight chef Harold Moore’s traditional burger, and if there had been a best bun contest, this team could have taken the title (though they did run out of burgers before the night was over). Newcomer Distilled–which won our Best Wings prize in Best of NYC 2013–spiced things up with poblano relish and a side of spicy garlic dill pickles. Shake Shack handed out entire cheeseburgers while others offered sliders, stepping up the size strategy to win over the crowd. Of all offerings, most unique might have been Ilili’s shawarma burger with Lebaense jalapenos on a cardamom sesame bun. And Spice Market’s spicy Thai short rib burger was a heavy favorite among the carnivores in attendance. Additional top finishers included Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen and West Caldwell, New Jersey’s Pudster’s.
And while the people may not have been able to decide on one true champ, the judges had no problem: They elected Le Rivage’s french onion soup burger, a last-minute entrant. Paul Denamiel’s burger was served on an English muffin, and it featured stewed onions, bechamel, and emmental cheese.
Hit the next page for photos of what went down off the West Side Highway this past Friday.