Florida is third in the nation when it comes to the number of burger joints. Not all those burgers are the predictable beef patty with standard fixings, though. In fact, some folks get downright inventive when it comes to crafting memorable burgers, combining imaginative ingredients for wildly delicious creations.
With this in mind, I set out on a quest to find our area’s most unique burgers. Although one story can’t possibly include all of them—you may want to do your own tasty research!—consider this your go-to list of local burgers that are not to be missed.
The Blue Wagyu
You may have known it as Artisinal Dish, but this locally owned, European-inspired, deli-style establishment changed its name to The Blue Wagyu in 2015 to emphasize their savory mainstay: humanely pasture-raised, local Wagyu beef.
My friend, Jean, and I were already fans, so going there to eat burgers was hardly a “chore.” We settled into the over-sized, comfy armchairs and breathed in the wonderful aroma that permeates this friendly, laid-back eatery. We then promptly devoured three different burgers.
We settled on the Shigeshigetani as the most deliciously unique. Half the fun is just saying the name, which is pronounced “shiggie-shiggie-tani.” (Say that fast three times. If you have trouble pronouncing it, just point to it on the menu! Burgers are named after famous Wagyu bulls, by the way.)
This burger has none of the usual ingredients; there’s no ketchup, mustard, mayo, tomato or lettuce, but you won’t miss them. The Shigeshigetani is a burger of contrasts, perfectly compiled to bring out the flavors of each ingredient.
On the bottom bun (a brioche bun made in-house) is a mound of mild cilantro slaw and just enough creamy garlic aioli sauce to add some tang. Atop the burger is a heaping spoonful of blackened onions, slow cooked for hours to make a decadent reduction that resembles a black onion marmalade. The bright red sriracha sauce seeping into the bun is the final addition. We loved the combination of sweet onion backed up by the salty heat of the sriracha. The sprinkling of fried shallots adds a delightfully crispy crunch.
The star, of course, is the quarter- or half-pound (your choice), hand-formed patty of Wagyu beef. These cattle, originally from Japan, have a totally different type of fat and marbling than traditional U.S. beef breeds. This healthier fat melts at a lower temperature, resulting in remarkable flavor and tenderness.
“Part of the story is educating the consumer,” says chef, cattleman and co-owner Greg Mullen, who takes great pleasure in sharing the merits of Wagyu beef.
Take our advice and order the 50-50 fries, half russet and half sweet potato. They’re hand-cut and fried to that just-right degree of doneness: tender inside, yet crisp outside, and topped with a scattering of sea salt.
If you possibly have room for dessert, ask if they’ve made any double chocolate flourless cookies. Warm from the oven, these are positively amazing.
Close Second:The Sanjirou, featuring chili fire kale, crispy fried shallots, caramelized bacon, chili aioli and a fried egg
The Blue Wagyu
6998 N. US HWY 27, Ocala
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