The inaugural Battle of the Burgers, held by Visit Temecula Valley, Friday, July 14, in Old Town Temecula, was a fierce one as local burger makers battled for the title of “Best Burger.”
Fifteen local restaurants brought samples of their signature burgers to Town Square Park where residents and visitors were invited to put their taste buds to the test and vote for their favorite two burgers in a blind tasting.
First place was awarded by the tasters to the “Tractor Racer” by Mad Madeline’s Grill, a half-pound beef patty with their own barbecue sauce and seasoning, a thick beer-battered onion ring, lettuce and tomato.
Public House came in second with their “Public Kobe Ashi.” This signature burger has 10 ounces of 100 percent grass-fed, wagyu beef, topped with smoked manchego, house pork belly, pickled onions, cabbage and edamame-ginger wasabi spread served on a bun.
Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ’s popular “Smokehouse BBQ Burger” came in third place, as participants thoroughly enjoyed the burger containing a half pound of certified Angus beef smothered in their own barbecue sauce, topped with smoked bacon, melted cheddar cheese and spicy onion straws with barbecue ranch dressing on a sesame seed bun.
Mad Madeline’s Grill, now in its 27th year, has been a favorite of both locals and tourists in Temecula for many years. Sid Hamilton, the current owner, entered his “Tractor Racer” in the inaugural event.
“I like to win,” he said, citing Mad Madeline’s multitude of media awards and Reader’s Choice awards for burgers and restaurant atmosphere.
“The burger industry has grown so much, it’s interesting to see others’ ways,” Hamilton said. “This event allows us all to come together and try different burgers at different local restaurants.”
Kyle Scimone, a sous chef at PUBlic House, said participating restaurants all went beyond the “basic burger” and that the competition allows tasters to explore fresh and new burger options, while eating for free.
“It is a platform for everyone to show different aspects of their food,” Scimone said.
Aside from the winning three burgers, participants included Red Robin’s “Madlover Burger,” Falkner Winery’s Pinnacle Restaurant “California Burger,” the “Wicked Boston” burger at the Tilted Kilt, “The Avensole Burger” from the Restaurant at Avensole Winery, Heart of the House Restaurant and Lounge’s “Heart of the House Burger,” Karl Strauss’ “Big Beer Burger,” the “Poblano Bomb” at E.A.T. Marketplace, Baily’s “Baily’s Burger,” the “Farmhouse Burger” at Pechanga Journey’s End, Kelsey’s at Pechanga’s “Smokehouse Burger,” the Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar’s “Bison Burger” and 1909’s “1909 Burger.”
Attendees included both local residents and visitors from as far as Ontario, with 96 votes collected in total. Many said they supported both the burgers and the local businesses, finding convenience in tasting 15 signature burgers in a single location.
Keep an eye out for the winning burgers from Mad Madeline’s Grill, The PUBlic House and Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ being served at their respective restaurants. The winners will also be featured in the “Burger and Beer” summer campaign by Visit Temecula Valley.
Through both a sense of community and the smoky air of competition, people saw that Temecula provides a variety of excellent burgers that are up to par with both residents and visitors tastes.