The best beef burger in Ireland 2019 comes from Handsome Burger, in Galway, according to the burger-eating public, almost 20,000 of whom voted for their favourites in this nationwide competition, which is part of tomorrow’s National Burger Day.
Handsome Burger, which was runner-up last year, grew out of a pop-up market stall set up in 2017 by Rory McCormack and Cathal O'Connor, friends who each invested €350 in the business and took their burgers on the road.
They now have a restaurant on Dominick Street in Galway, as well as a residency at Eatyard, the street-food collective at the Bernard Shaw pub in Dublin 2, where their burgers are on sale Thursdays to Sundays until the beginning of September.
McCormack and O'Connor describe their winning Handsome Burger with Cheese as a classic, made with fresh, local Galway produce. "We use a mixture of brisket, shoulder and chuck beef, from Brady's of Athenry, a fifth-generation family butcher's, and we keep the fat content high, at around 20 per cent," McCormack explains.
The burger is topped with sticky onions, which they cook for five hours in chicken fat, sugar and pepper, along with a mustard-based Handsome sauce, the recipe for which they will not divulge, and melted Cheddar cheese. Freshly pickled cucumbers, which they make themselves, are added instead of gherkins, for “their nice crunchy texture”. The winning burger sells for €8.50, or €10.50 with fries.
Regional awards were also made for the best gourmet burgers. The Munster winner, West Cork Burger Company, is a restaurant at Washington Street in Cork, where you can choose from an Angus burger, or a wagyu burger made with beef from the West Cork Wagyu Beef Company, on one of three types of bun, topped with one of four Irish cheeses.
The Connacht gourmet burger winner is Flipside in Sligo, opened last year by local men Paul Brennan and David Dunne, where the burgers are made with only grass-fed Irish Angus beef from William Clarke Butchers in the town.
A food truck, The Hatch, based in Castlewellan and operating around Co Down, took the Ulster gourmet burger title for Colin and Bronagh Johnson. The Hatch burger is made with Mourne shorthorn beef, with Emmental cheese and their own tomato relish.
Kilkenny also claimed the new award for "most creative burger build", with that accolade going to Butcher, a steakhouse and cocktail bar that opened in the city last year. Butcher's winning burger has smoked short rib on top of a beef patty, with jalapeno cheese, chimichurri and caramelised onions.
The award for best burger served in a hotel went to Harvey's Point, in Donegal. Thunder Road Café, in Temple Bar in Dublin, retained the title for best burger served in a restaurant, and the pub honours were claimed by Judge Roy Beans in Newbridge, Co Kildare.
According to voters, the best fast-food-chain burger comes from Eddie Rocket's, for the second year in succession, and if you're on the move, Burger King at Applegreen is still serving the best convenience-store or forecourt burgers. The independent-fast-food-chain winner was Romayo's.
The awards are organised by the family-owned Irish meat company Kepak and are part of National Burger Day, which takes place tomorrow, when two-for-one offers on burgers will be available at more than 500 shops, restaurants and pubs across Ireland. You'll find a list of participating outlets here.
BEST BURGER IN IRELAND
Winner Handsome Burger, Galway
Runner-up The Hungry Moose, Kilkenny
BEST NATIONAL BURGER AT A…
Fast-food chain Eddie Rocket's
Independent fast food chain: Romayo's
Restaurant Thunder Road Café, Dublin
Hotel Harvey's Point, Donegal
Pub Judge Roy Beans, Newbridge, Co Kildare
Convenience/forecourt Burger King at Applegreen
MOST CREATIVE BURGER BUILD
BEST INDEPENDENT TAKEAWAY
Connacht Cafolla's, Castlebar, Co Mayo
Leinster Tony's Pizzeria, Dundalk, Co Louth
Munster Chicken Hut, Limerick
Ulster Johnny's Ranch, Donegal
Northern Ireland The Chippy, Limavady
BEST INDEPENDENT CHAIN
Connacht Blue Thunder, Claremorris, Co Mayo
Leinster Mullen's, Dundalk, Co Louth
Munster Dooly's, Waterford
Ulster Friar's Rest, Letterkenny, Co Donegal
BEST GOURMET BURGER SPECIALIST
Connacht Flipside, Sligo
Leinster The Hungry Moose, Kilkenny
Munster West Cork Burger Company, Cork
Ulster The Hatch mobile food truck, Co Down