By Mike Thayer
I recently completed a pizza challenge, sampling 19 local/regional pizza joints and finding the 10 best in the Wichita area.
It's time for a new challenge: Burgers
Who makes the best burger in the Wichita metro area? I'm going to find out, sampling all the local/regional burger joints to see who crafts the best burger.
During the course of this challenge I'll be sampling classic cheeseburgers, straight forward beef and American cheese goodness with the typical toppings. The way I see it, if you can't put together a classic cheeseburger and do it well, then there's no reason to sample a burger joint's other burger options. So there will be no mushroom & Swiss, no on BBQ & onion strings, no on jalapeno & pepper jack cheese, etc., versions of burgers
Being evaluated on a point system scorecard will be a plethora of categories that includes but is not limited to the appearance, meat, bun, meat to bun ratio, how the burger is dressed (that means the assortment of veggies, sauce and/or condiments for those of you who live in Valley Center), service, time to order and more. Weighing most heavily in the score of course, is TASTE and depending on the size of the patty, I could be sampling a single or a double, there's a quarter pound minimum. After scoring the burger, the point total is then broken down into a star system, 1-5, with 5 stars being a top rating. I'll post all the numbers for each burger joint and their offerings in the final report.
No national chains will be included in this challenge, no Five Guys, no Red Robin, no BurgerFi, no Freddy's, etc.... Only the local, regional burger joints qualify. Besides, when it comes to burgers, McDonald's is most everybody's last resort, Wendy's is nothing extra special with their square patties and Burger King, well, isn't a king at all.
In my first Burger tasting, I reviewed Bionic Burger. You can read that Challenge article here. Today's Burger Challenge is a killing two birds with one stone kind of thing, a Burger Battle if you will of two regional joints, Braum's vs. Spangles. A Braum's Double Cheeseburger pitted against the Spangles Gourmet Supreme.
In my neighborhood, these two iconic burger joints are situated right across the street from each other, so while sitting in the Spangle's drive-thru waiting to place my order and in view of Braum's, I thought, "Why not pit one restaurant's signature burger against the other?"
So here we go, in alphabetical order:
Braum's: They tout a good classic cheeseburger, I ordered a double. The 1/4 pound patty is the weight before cooking. Here's the description of the sandwich from the restaurant's website: Braum’s Cheeseburgers aren’t for the faint of heart! We start with a 100% pure beef patty. Then we load it with lots of real dairy cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, mayonnaise, and special sauce. All this is piled high on a sesame seed bun baked fresh in Braum’s own bakery!
This burger has a nice visual appearance, I looked forward to taking that first bite. The meat to bun ratio was good with the double, but I would have to say it would be too much sesame seed bun when it's just a single patty. And about that patty, the seasoning was inconsistent. I got those seasoning notes in some bites, but not others, it wasn't applied evenly. The veggies were fresh, the condiments in good portion, not too much, not too little... Overall, a good burger.
I paid $5.36 for the Braum's Double Cheeseburger, a reasonable price and I'm giving it 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. It's worthy of a repeat buy.
The Braum's visited on this occasion is located at 1261 S. Rock Rd., Wichita, KS. 67207. Service was polite, conversational and it only took me about 2 minutes to go through the drive-thru, from order to pickup at the window at the dinner hour. Nice!
Spangles: Their 'signature' burger is the Gourmet Supreme. I'm no stranger to this burger and in fact I've called Spangles out on not promoting this burger more aggressively. Not doing so holds the Spangles chain back in my humble opinion, because this particular burger can go toe-to-toe with the national chains, I'd put it up against the Big Mac, the Whopper and Dave's (Wendy's) single.
Lacking a description on the company website - another missed opportunity by the company - The Gourmet Supreme is a 1/3 pound seasoned Angus Beef burger, classically served with fresh lettuce, cheese, tomato, pickle and red onion, along with a toasted brioche style bun.
The meat to bun ratio was spot on, although the patty on this occasion was not seasoned as well as I've had in the past. The veggies were fresh, the cheese melted nicely but all the other flavors had to carry the under-seasoned meat a bit.
I paid just $2.59 for the Gourmet Supreme, taking advantage of the 1/2 price special on Monday's. I'm giving the Spangles Gourmet Supreme 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, it too, is worthy of a repeat buy, especially considering the price on Mondays!
The Spangles visited on this occasion is located at 1240 S. Rock Rd., Wichita, KS. 67207. The service was "eh", obligatory professional, but nothing special, engaging or conversational. I went through the drive-thru from time to order to window pickup though in about 2 minutes during the dinner hour. That's good, but it's those minor details like service with a smile, asking if you want extra condiments, etc., the lack of such things doesn't bode well for restaurant growth.
So in pitting what Braum's has to offer vs. what Spangles has in a burger battle?..... I'm going with Braum's in this impromptu one-on-one mini challenge. Overall, while Spangles has the better price (on a Monday), Braum's makes a better burger than Spangles (but only by a slight margin), and has better service than Spangles.
I look forward to the next tasting!
Here's my list of 28 restaurants that tout burgers, more joints are to be added, I'm sure I missed a few when putting this challenge together.
- The Anchor
- Big Larry's Burgers
- Bionic Burger
- Bomber Burger
- Broadway Burgers & BBQ
- Buster's Burger Joint
- Calvin's Hamburger Haven
- Chicken N Pickle (Yes, really, a chicken place that does burgers!)
- Deano's Grill & Tapworks
- Dempsy's Burger Pub
- Dog & Shake
- Emerson Biggins
- Fizz Burgers & Bottles
- Harry's Uptown
- The Hill Bar & Grill
- Lotus Leaf
- Oasis Lounge
- O'Malley's Irish Pub (1/2 pound burgers!)
- Side Pockets
- Sport Burger
- Two Brother's BBQ
- Ty's Diner
- West St. Burgers
- Yo-B Yogurt & Burgers
Doing this in the name of "Food Science" (cough), I'm looking forward to finding the best locally crafted burger! I'll eventually whittle this list down to the 10 Best Burger Joints in the Wichita Metro.
Stay tuned and $pend Wisely My Friends.....