Hundreds came out to fill Lumpkin Street Saturday and eat hamburgers as the Walton County Chamber of Commerce played host to the second annual Battle of the Burgers over the weekend.
Last year, the Chamber sold 250 tickets at the inaugural event on Court Street, where various restaurants competed to see who could make the best burger in town.
This year, the Chamber moved the event to North Lumpkin Street, where it could occur alongside Southern Brewing, provider of all the beer for the event, and upped the ticket count to 300 for the second go-round of hot and hungry burger competition.
“We sold out,” Teri Smiley, president of the chamber, said. “It’s coming along great. It’s a great way for our businesses to gain exposure and it’s a great event for our community to come out and gather in an outdoor place and have a good time among our local businesses.”
Five restaurants competed this year, including defending champion Silver Queen, returning competitors Amici, LR Burger and RJ’s Soul Food and newcomer Bistro South, all of them determined to serve up the best burger.
This year, however, there were two prizes at stake: the returning People’s Choice Award, voted on by everyone who bought a ticket to sample the wares from all five competitors, and a new Grand Prize chosen by a panel of judges.
Silver Queen, which won the People’s Choice Award last year, returned with its queso-dipped burger, befitting its primary vocation as a taco eatery.
“We gotta defend our title,” Wes Kent, owner of Silver Queen, said as he dipped another freshly-grilled burger in the bubbling cheese sauce. “It’s a great event. We’re just having fun.”
Michael Thompson, cooking up burgers for Bistro South, said burgers started to fly off the grill as soon as the event kicked off at 11 a.m.
“Things are already going really well,” Thompson said, who added he had great confidence in his restaurant’s entry for the day. “You can’t beat local meat and local bread.”
Greg Thompson, owner of John’s Supermarket, parent of the new local restaurant within the grocery store, was handing out the burgers, topped with melted pimento cheese and pickled jalapeños for a bit of extra bite.
“We want to bring great food to the community,” he said.
Other burgers on the menu included the Philly Cheese Steak Burger at RJ’s and the BBQ Burger at LR Burger.
Winning the People’s Choice Award this year, however, was Amici, which served up a double smash burger with all the fixings, including a house-made aïoli for a special tang.
“We’re happy to have the support of Monroe,” said Josh Gentrup, co-owner of Amici. “It’s great to know that people like our burger.”
But it was the burger with a kick from Bistro South which appealed to the judges, who handed the overall winner’s trophy to the newest eatery for its entry on the day.
“We’re happy to be a part of this experience,” Michael Thompson said. “We’ll keep working to bring great food for the community to eat.”