By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent
Anticipation of the long-awaited opening of Burger Fi on Saturday, March 15, has really put me in a meat-craving mood lately. I can't get enough of those juicy patties, topped with all the fixings and sandwiched between my favorite food of all: bread. It has also got me thinking of where this Eating Adventurer can get the best-of in, Gainesville, especially when the convenience and price of a McDonald's or Burger King burger can cloud true judgment. I assure you, the local burger choices on my top-five list of are worth the wait:
Copper Monkey: 1702 W University Ave.
* Specifically: Try them all immediately
* Recommended side: Sweet potato fries
* Next to try: The Monkey's Uncle burger
I cannot say enough about Copper Monkey's "gourmet steakburgers", image above. They are fresh, tender and all around mouthwatering. While I am partial to the Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger, smothered with plenty of grilled mushrooms and crispy pieces of bacon, all are worth trying. Not to mention that there is a burger lunch special each day of the week, so there's no excuse. While the service has never been phenomenal, this burger is truly worth it. Even for a simple "Say Cheese" Burger, I truly can't get over the consistency in quality of ingredients and the overall flavor. They also serve some of the best sweet potato fries I have ever had. My only regret: that I had not been exposed to these burgers sooner.
New Deal Café: 3445 W University Ave.
* Specifically: Jamaican Jerk Burger
* Recommended side: House salad
* Next to try: Giovanni Burger
My friend, Erin, raved about the New Deal Cafe's Jamaican Jerk Burger far too long to ignore. When I finally ordered one for myself, I was overwhelmed. From the extremely sizeable quantity to the vibrant colors shrouding the thick burger patty, this was a truly unique burger. I'm not sure if it was the avocado aioli (I'm a sucker for a good aioli), the pineapple salsa or the incredibly flavorful jerk seasoning that makes this burger stand out. Honestly, I have a feeling it's the combination of the three. Well, it's that and the well-prepared burger patty. As far as the side salad, the champagne vinaigrette and pickled onions are what make this as memorable as it is tasty.
Loosey's downtown: 120 SW 1st Ave.
* Specifically: Any cheeseburger with an aioli
* Recommended side: Truffled fries
* Next to try: Cheeseburger with fried egg, grilled jalapenos, bacon and garlic aioli
At first I was put off by Loosey's not offering pre-chosen burger selections, but, being the food adventurer that I am, I came to love building my burger and trying out new topping combinations. On Wednesdays when the beef burgers are $5 from 4-9 p.m., I am in burger heaven. Due to the reasonable price tag, imagine my surprise when the meat's quality was superb, too. In addition to delicious burgers, my favorite burger side dish, fries, is revamped at Loosey's: The truffled fries are unbelievably addictive (and $5 on Thursdays from 4-9 p.m.)
Red Onion Grill: 3885 NW 24th Blvd # A
* Specifically: Chile Popper Burger
* Recommended side: Red Onion Rings
* Next to try: black bean burger
The Red Onion Grill is another of those restaurants that has been out of sight, out of mind to me for a couple years since first residing in Gainesville. After another friend's recommendation to try the burgers, my spice-loving side drew me to the Chile Popper Burger, which also provided a thick, tender beef patty with a twist. It wasn't just the cream cheese complementing the fried jalapenos, but the interesting addition of the raspberry chipotle sauce that presented an amazing taste sensation that left me craving more. Also, I was not only delighted to find a new burger joint but one with a vast and highly-regarded menu, including the fish tacos. The onion rings are also a great, crispy alternative to fries.
Relish: 1702 W University Ave., and 201 S.E. 1st St.
* Specifically: Too Tasty Burger
* Recommended Side: Fries
* Next to try: Half-Guilt (1 beef patty, 1 veggie patty)
Whether you went out on the town and crave a hearty meal at midnight or just need a quick and indulgent lunch stop, Relish should be one of your go-to burger joints. This is one of those burgers you get when you want a greasy, flavor-packed treat at a pretty low price. While I opt for the Too Tasty half-pound Angus burger with cheese and bacon, you can increase your burger size based on hunger level, which is always appealing. The fries add another greasy element to the meal, but they are so wonderfully fried that you just don't care.
While this is a short list of the multitude of burgers offered in Gainesville, I'd say it is a pretty comprehensive one. Now, go forth and burger on GLOBers.