The challenge: which burger reigns supreme in the world of kitschy local burger stands? The challengers: Cook-out, the young upstart versus Char-Grill, the seasoned competitor.
Rules of the game: Tony and Julia must eat one small char-grilled burger with bacon, mustard, ketchup, and onions at each stand. No sides! One small slip of the rules, pickles were put on the Cook Out burger, but other than that, both burgers must have same condiments and order size. Just a grudge match between two worthy opponents. Who will reign supreme?
First up: Char-Grill (3211 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC 27612):
Atmosphere: Char-grill’s facade may be simple and plain, but it’s got nothing to hide. Your burger is being grilled right in front of you (no microwaving at this joint). You pay for the grill with a long wait though, but there was a long line. But, even without a crowd, be prepared to sit it out.
The Main Event: Don’t be fooled by the looks of the single char-burger. While it looks like an average, slapped together burger, its taste packs a punch. The patty is nicely salted and has a nice char-grilled flavor (no pun intended). Unlike other mainstream fast-food, you can actually tell this was once a breathing cow. One point against it was that Char-Grill is a little mustard-happy, it overwhelmed the grilled onions and ketchup. To top it all off, the bun sealed the deal; not too dry and lightly toasted, so it didn’t crumble into a big mush.
Score: 4.5 (out of 5 tater tots)
Here’s Come Cook-Out (3930 Western Blvd. Raleigh, NC 27606):
Atmosphere: Flashier than its rival, with neon lights and a shiny balck and red frame. This place is dressed to impress! Other than out cashier’s friendly face, you couldn’t see much of anything inside. No displays of deliciousness being cooked here. It’s more geared towards its drive-thru crowd then any walk-up orders. I guess it’s up to our imagination how our burger was cooked.
The Main Event: Dang, that is an impressive-looking burger. It’s appearance runs circles around homely Char-Grill. The onions are fresh and they offer pickles (a major strike against Char-Grill, which offers pickles on every burger except its char-burger!). But that’s where Cook-out winning streak ends. The bun is bland and a little mushy. It can’t strand up to the overwhelming onions that Cook-Out puts on its burger. Fresh Onion, but it’s shouldn’t end up being an onion sandwich. The burger itself was underseasoned, so much so that it’s hard to tell how it was cooked. However, the bacon on the Cook-out burger was smokier and more tasty than Char-Grill’s.
Score: 3.5 tater tots
The winner this round!: Char-Grill!! (roar of the crowd)….
But Cook-Out demands a recount “What about my speciality burgers???” The Judges will have to take this into consideration in the next round…
To be continued….
~Tony and Julia