Our #madburgerbracket has been whittled down to the final four thanks to all your votes. In case you haven’t been fortunate enough to try all four finalists — what are you waiting for? — we’ve put this primer together so you can vote confidently.
Weary Traveler: Bob’s Bad Breath Burger
Though the Weary Traveler isn’t necessarily a place you think of for burgers, the one beef version they do have is such a standout that we kind of wish they did more. Bob’s Bad Breath Burger is named for the copious amounts of garlic and other breath-killing bits like caramelized onion and pungent green goddess dressing. A thick slab of cream cheese plays well with the mild, lightly sweet Jamaican pickapeppa sauce and hefty tomato slice. There’s a lot of strong flavors on top of this half pound of Underground Butcher beef, but it’s an excellent combination held together by the bakery soft bun.
Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry: Melting Pot Burger
Choosing a favorite burger at classic Dotty’s can be a heated debate. That’s why we went with their best-selling burger, the Melting Pot, as its bracket entrant. It’s a bacon cheeseburger on steroids, pumped up with cheddar, Swiss and provolone cheeses, plus two slices of crisp, smokey bacon and a generous smear of English garlic sauce. It’s that creamy, savory sauce that puts this burg over the top (and it’s clear that Madisonians love the combo of burgers and garlic). Dotty’s gets extra points for grilling their hand-formed six-ounce patties to a perfect medium, or rare when requested, too.
Village Bar: Brick Burger
Brick is one of the most underused cheeses, especially when it comes to topping burgers. That’s one reason why the Brick Burger at the Village Bar is so good. The other reasons? The fact that it’s griddled right behind the bar; it’s got a nice squishy bun (or hard roll for a little extra); perfectly seasoned beef; gooey, thoroughly melted cheese; those unfancy pickle chips; the little disposable plate it’s served on; and it’s cheap as hell. If you want a classic burg without any pretentiousness, this is your spot. (Hamburger aficionado George Motz featured the Brick Burger on an episode of Burger Land if you’d like to drool right now.)
Caribou Tavern: ’Bou Burger
And finally we have the Caribou Tavern, a no-frills bar next to a laundromat. Like Village Bar, Caribou pumps out a surprisingly delicious burger. The ’Bou Burger is a fat little third pounder, cooked on the griddle behind the bar and placed on a substantial toasted bun. Even though your bartender is also your cook, these burgers are delivered at the requested temp and drip juice into the basket with every bite. Top it with whatever you like, though the options only get as fancy as mushrooms and Swiss. Ketchup or mustard, onions and the tart pickles chips on the side are all you need here to achieve burger nirvana.
Now that we’ve run through the semifinalists, go vote! The championship matchup will be announced on Thursday, April 4 and run through Sunday, April 7.