2013 philadelphia vendy awards

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This year’s Philly Vendy Awards was held at Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown. Compared to the previous two years, West Philly and The Piazza, I think this was the perfect venue. The weather was perfect and Penn Treaty Park offered lots of space to lay on the grass, a more spread out truck setup, and beautiful views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge.

Defending Vendy Cup champion Blake Feldman of The Smoke Truck.

Defending Vendy Cup champion Blake Feldman of The Smoke Truck.


Trucks this year were competing for four different awards: The Vendy Cup, People’s Choice, Best Dessert, and Tide sponsored Messy Yet Tasty. The judging panel consisted of Chef Andrew Gerson (Brooklyn Brewery), Emilio Mignucci (DiBruno Bros.), Chef Paul Kimport (Johnny Brenda’s/Standard Tap), and Lauren Purcell (Every Day with Rachael Ray) and the emcee was Beth Beverly (Diamond Tooth Taxidermy). There were a bunch of repeat Vendy attendees from years past, though there were a good amount of newcomers as well. Poi Dog, Christis’s Falafel Truck, KAMI, and The Cow and the Curd were just some of the newcomers.

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All the trucks served great food though Poi Dog and Sugar Philly offered some of my favorites. They were serving three items: Pork Belly Adobo Taco, Spam Musubi, and Tofu Poke. I am finding myself craving spam musubi on a daily basis now. Sugar Philly offered special macarons which were inspired by cocktails found at 4 Philly establishments: Moriarty’s, Distrito, Zahav, and Lemon Hill.

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The winner of Tide’s Messy Yet Tasty Award went to The Cow and the Curd. For the second year in a row, Lil’ Pop Shop won Best Dessert. The Cow and the Curd also ran home with the People’s Choice award! Last but not least, the King of Falafel took home the Vendy Cup.

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I think this year’s Philly Vendy Awards have been the best yet! Can’t wait till next year.

Check out a few other photos from the event:

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burger brawl 2013

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Burger Brawl has been going on for the past two years and it killed me to realize that it was on the same day as the Broad Street Run in both 2011 and 2012. My decision to not run this year has allowed me to make it out to the third annual Burger Brawl!

If you’re not aware, Burger Brawl is an annual charity competition where several chefs in the city compete for the Judges’ and People’s Choice awards. It’s held at the Fleisher Art Memorial and proceeds go to Philly area public schools. In 2011, Jen Carroll of 10 Arts and Michael McNally of London Grill took home the gold. Last year, David Wiederholt of The Capital Grille and Bobby Flay of Bobby’s Burger Palace won.

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It was a beautiful day for this year’s burger brawl. The sun was out and the weather was perfect. Tables and grills lined the perimeter of the Fleisher Art Memorial’s parking lot and the smell of grilled beef filled the air.

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There were a lot of signature restaurant burgers, such as The Industry’s Industry Burger, London Grill’s London Burger, and Alla Spina’s Burgamo. In addition, some restaurants served other creations. South Philly Tap Room served the Ham-Hamburger, a burger topped with a ham salad, and Chef George Sabatino gave us a taste of what he’s serving over at Morgan’s Pier, sous-vide burgers finished on the grill topped with homemade American cheese (which will actually be finished in the deep fryer at Morgan’s Pier).

The Judges’ Choice went to Fat Jack’s BBQ, who made their Ultimate Memphis Mauler Burger which was made up of angus chuck brisket & ribeye, topped with homemade BBQ sauce, cheddar jack cheese, brisket, pulled pork, sauteed onions, slaw, and a dill pickle.

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The People’s Choice went to Lucky’s Last Chance, who served up their PB & Bacon Burger. That, as simply stated by the name, was made up of peanut butter, bacon, and homemade jelly.

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Burger Brawl was a lot of fun. Aside from the fact that I ate myself into an almost painful burger coma, this event was the perfect celebration of one of my favorite foods. So many delicious burgers were made and there were also a lot of familiar faces hanging out, whether to cook or eat. Can’t wait until next year!

For a full list of the brawl’s burgers, check out Michael Klein’s roundup on Philly.com.

Here are a few other shots from the event:

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johnny brenda’s – cheeseburger

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I have to admit. I have never eaten at Johnny Brenda’s. I’ve been here several times, whether it’s to see a show upstairs, grab a drink downstairs, or enjoy a brew while sitting along Girard Ave. but not one of my visits included food. There is no reason except for “I don’t know.” This was not due to a lack of interest, though.

Lots of people have told me good things about the food here, more particularly, their burger. Another friend, who’s burger opinions I take seriously, told me that the burger here was one of her favorites. Not too long ago, the stars aligned and I happened to be hungry when I was enjoying a beer at the bar.

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The burger at JB’s is made up of beef (the source could not be found by the staff at the time) which sits on top of lettuce and pickles. It’s then topped with melted cheddar and chopped caramelized onions. I also got a taste of a secret sauce of some sort. The burger is sandwiched between a regular bun. I ordered the burger medium-rare and it came out perfectly medium-rare. There was no lack of juiciness, as I savored each bite. The flavors all came together and made for one tasty burger. The accompanying well-seasoned, tasty hand-cut fries complimented an already great burger.

Only not so great parts? The bun fell apart slightly during consumption (but I can get over that). The portion of fries seemed a bit small. I actually was wanting more once the burger was done. Not that I’m truly complaining…having a large weekly portion of fried potatoes isn’t exactly the greatest habit…

I’m glad I finally tried it. I’m even more glad that I know how good of a burger it is now.

Johnny Brenda’s
1201 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125
215.739.9684

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lloyd – lloyd burger

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Not even 6 months old and just down the street is Lloyd, a whiskey bar along Girard Avenue in Fishtown. I’ve only been once or twice for drinks, but have been meaning to come in ever since I found out they have a burger. Having said that, even though they’re known as Lloyd Whiskey Bar, they have a couple taps, a cocktail list, and a moderately sized menu.

The Lloyd Burger is made up of a custom beef blend from nearby Kissin Fresh Meats topped with Muenster cheese, pickled red onion, lettuce, tomato, and bread & butter pickles. All of that is placed between a toasted Metropolitan Bakery brioche bun. You have the option of accompanying fries or greens and the addition of bacon for an extra buck.

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It was cooked perfectly to medium-rare. The pickled red onion added a pleasant tangy and sweet taste. The toasted brioche was fresh and held up to the juicy, flavorful burger. The burger was fairly simple, with the pickled red onion being the “fanciest” ingredient, however, it was done well. The only non-positive thing I can say is that the burger is just a bit small for the bun. There were one, maybe two small bites of bun without burger at the end. Really, it was so small that it’s not something to pick at. I enjoyed it quite a bit. The generous portion of accompanying fries were also seasoned well and tasted great.

My friend and I also tried the bacon chicken liver mousse appetizer which also tasted great. Will definitely be coming back to eat here.

Lloyd
529 E Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
215.425.4600

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opa – bifteki burger

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Opa’s Bifteki Burger has been on my list for at least a year. Working so close to Opa and having forgotten a lunch on numerous occasions, there is really no reason why I didn’t get a chance to try it until last week.

The Bifteki Burger is Opa’s Greek spin on a burger. Bifteki, if you’re not familiar with Greek cuisine, is like Greek meatballs/burgers. I say meatballs/burgers because breadcrumbs are added to the mix, thus giving it more of a meatball texture and instead of being cooked in the oven like meatballs, these are often cooked on grills. Bifteki is also served on its own, without a bun.

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At Opa, the Bifteki Burger is made up of a Green Meadow Farm beef & feta crumble mixture which is topped with a cucumber, tomato & dill relish. It’s sandwiched between a LeBus brioche bun and served with a generous portion of house cut oregano fries and a side of ketchup.

The burger was cooked medium and wasn’t dripping with juices. It was, however, very flavorful and tasty. The small pieces of feta added an almost creamy texture with some tangy flavors. The accompanying fries were also tasty. Not a traditional burger at all but this Greek version of one is done well! Also, the burger comes at a $10 price tag which I found to be very fair. How many good burgers have you had that have been $10 or below? More than a handful of burgers I’ve had in the past couple have been over $10, and not all of them were worth breaking the $10 mark.

Opa
1311 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215.545.0170

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