Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Beef&bouquets:

readers pick best local burger joints

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A few weeks ago in The Tab (Sept. 16) we provided a round-up of the biggest, messiest, most expensive and most famous burgers in the 'Peg. But we left the hard part -- choosing the best burger in town -- to you.

I received numerous e-mails from readers offering their two cents' worth on where to find the city's tastiest burgers, and what made them so great.

One burger connoisseur even sent a thoughtful dissertation of sorts on the characteristics of the classic Winnipeg burger:

"The truly unique Winnipeg burger has chili, mustard, pickles and raw onions," wrote Neil Reynolds.

"These can be found at all Junior's, George's, the Dairi-Wip on Marion, the Red Top on St. Mary's Rd., VJ's, Mrs. Mike's ... ask anyone who has eaten these burgers and then lived in another city. You can't get that kind of burger in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal or Vancouver. Winnipeg has the best burgers."

But the cream of the crop -- according to Reynolds and the majority of other readers -- are the burgers at Mrs. Mike's on Taché Avenue in St. Boniface.

"The patty is put on the grill only after you order," Reynolds explains. "It is cooked until crispy but never over-cooked. The bun is lightly toasted on the grill and then on top of the cooking patty. It is all assembled and in your hands while still piping hot and never crushed or squished. However, it is the chili that truly gives Mrs. Mike's the edge."

Yup, hands down, Mrs. Mike's wins the burger popularity contest, with the majority of e-mails waxing eloquently about their King burger (two quarter-pound all-beef patties, chili, mustard onion, pickles, lettuce tomato and mayo) and chili burger (with so much chili poured on top that you have to eat it with a fork and knife).

Readers called Mrs. Mike's burgers "The best in the world," "the best thing made on earth" and "a 10 out of 10 every time."

Second place in our informal survey goes to the home of the nine-pound, $45 burger -- Blondie's on Main Street. They don't just serve the city's biggest burgers, many of you said, they serve the best. As Jim Kolson explained it, it's Blondie's (a.k.a. owner Sandy Doyle) friendly yet no-nonsense service that is integral to this burger's charm.

"Don't laugh, but it's also the ambience of the establishment," wrote Kolson. "Yes, that counts in the burger experience. I just love Blondie's attitude and the list of rules posted on the wall ... whenever I take friends there, I always warn them about the rules."

One of those rules, by the way, tells customers, "If you have issues with the cost, or anything else, McDonald's is just down the street!" (Blondie has also been known to pin a piece of paper and pen on the wall in the men's washroom, above the urinal, kindly asking people if they are going to write nasty comments about her to please use the paper provided instead of writing on the wall.)

Here are some of your burger honourable mentions:

Kelekis Restaurant, 1100 Main St.: "I'm sure the ridiculously expensive hamburgers at 529 Wellington and Rae & Jerry's taste perfectly fine," wrote Mark Duncan. "But isn't there something faintly pretentious about treating hamburgers as haute cuisine? The folks who run Kelekis refreshingly eschew this pretension, preferring to serve up a hamburger made from a closely guarded family secret. It's juicy, filling and utterly delicious -- also affordable. And as if that wasn't enough, if you sit at the counter you'll get to chat with Mary Kelekis, one of Winnipeg's most cherished citizens."

Angelo's Chip Shop, 902 Main St.: According to Signy Derksen, Mama Angelo serves up consistently great burgers loaded with chili. And equally important "the staff are always friendly -- always recognize the regulars, and there are regulars!"

Steve and Nicki's, Hwy. #1 just west of the Perimeter: Ross More says that this burger joint never gets any recognition and yet it has been a favourite since the 1970s.

"Really, their burgers are to die for," he writes. "They are homemade, come with pickles and a couple of spoonfuls of homemade chili. Many, many of us former Charleswood Collegiate students still get our allotment of their cheeseburgers whenever the urge strikes."

Loona Rosa, 460 St. Mary's Rd.: "Their cheeseburger with mushrooms and bacon is delicious and so are their real french fries," wrote Cathy Taylor. "I've never finished this combo yet, just too much to eat, so half of the burger comes home with me to savour later. Members of the police force eat there regularly ... obviously men of taste."

Rumpli's, 1825 Inkster Blvd.: Nicole Girouard of St. Boniface says she recently happened on a new find. "Mrs. Mike's, move over," she wrote. "Rumpli's makes the best, messiest, scrumptious cheeseburger ever made."

Unfortunately, there isn't space to

mention everyone's comments about

Winnipeg's best burgers, but thanks for the e-mails and phone calls! All those quoted above have won passes to a special screening of Friday Night Lights

Oct. 6 at SilverCity St. Vital, with

our gratitude.

PHOTO

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 30, 2004 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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