Aaron and Matt are back again with another calorie-clocking excursion. This month, the challenge was to visit as many burger joints (fast food excluded) in the Nona-ish area and try the best they have to offer. For the sake of our doctors, and other medical city practitioners, it should be noted that we did not each eat a full burger at each location, we asked to have each burger split for sharing. That being said, this was a true test of human caloric intake, a massive shoveling of saturated fats and cholesterol, and probably the most deliciously productive day of our lives. It should also be noted that Aaron has a primal fear of ketchup (insert vinyl record scratch sound here). Something about growing up, elementary school, a clown, tater tots, and thinking it was blood instead of the most delicious, multifaceted form of tomato product ever invented. So, each burger we ordered had no ketchup, or ketchup on the side. The lore behind this blasphemy is still a mystery because, as Aaron was explaining it, everything kind of went blurry and it sounded like the ringing in your ears after a flash-bang grenade was dropped in close proximity. Nevertheless, there was a mission at hand.
We started our grueling burger run with a home run at Junior Colombian Burger. If you haven’t been to the local food cart turned burger chain restaurant, you really should try it. When we asked the young lady at the counter what her favorite burger was, she immediately told us to go for the burger dog. This burger is loaded with ham, a hot dog, cheese, crushed potato chips, tomato, lettuce, garlic sauce and ketchup-mayo, and yes, also a beef patty. The burger was juicy, the bun was fresh, and the sauces were tasty. With such a great start to the day, we were pumped to get to the next location.
Location two was hands down the biggest surprise of the day. While driving to Junior Colombian Burger, we spotted signs advertising Arepa Burger on the side of a BP gas station just north of the 528. Out of curiosity, we pulled it up on Yelp, and it has a 4.6 star rating, so we gave it a shot. The menu features a few specialty burgers and several other Latin specialties. We went straight for the Arepa burger. Admittedly, we were prepared for the worst. We were sitting in a gas station after all. Our worries about eating a burger from a gas station were quickly put to rest. The burger was generously topped with ham, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, potato sticks and garlic sauce. An arepa was used in place of a bun. The toppings were fresh, the burger was juicy, and we were happily surprised. This place is surely worthy of a stop for lunch any day of the week.
Our third stop was Nona Tap Room. We had a sort-of dilemma at this location because they have two pretty cool offerings, the black and bleu burger and the pulled pork burger. Since I (Matt) have had the B&B burger multiple times, we went with the pulled pork burger. Another delicious and savory burger went smoothly down the hatch. Not only did this burger have pulled pork on top, it also had the prettiest veggies and pretty nice presentation; they even split our house-made potato chips for two separate servings. Great burger, excellent presentation and service.
Stop number four was just across the street at Graffiti Junktion, the local sports bar with the most TVs in the area. We ordered the Green Mountain burger, which has Canadian bacon and a fried egg on top of the expected meat. This was the only location that refused to offer suggestions from the burger offerings, nor would they cut the burger in half for us, so we both took a bite from opposite sides, shrugged, and left.
Stop five was local favorite Pig Floyd’s. Now, this sandwich isn’t exactly a burger, but it’s pretty darn close, and it’s absolutely delicious. The Big Floyd is a massive mound of smoked brisket, pulled pork, sausage, BBQ sauce, citrus slaw and french fries all served on a Hawaiian roll. Definitely a carnivore’s dream. Try it with the fried yuca and make sure to ask for a to-go box; this thing is huge. Once again, this was not “technically” a burger (our requirements were to have a ground beef patty), but this was the most rewarding form of trickery of all time, and for that we were tempted to stand up and slow clap right in the middle of the restaurant.
Stop six has long laid claim to the best burger in Nona, Nona Blue. We chose the obvious, the Nona Blue burger. The signature menu item features a three-meat blend, crumbled blue cheese and smoked bacon. This was a solid burger, worthy of the acclaim.
Stop number seven was 310 Nona, where we ordered the loaded angus burger. This is a pretty large patty packed with herbs, juicy and delicious, yet a simple burger. Nothing too crazy or fancy here, but one of the best patties we had all night.
Stop number eight, McDonald’s. Before you fire off a nasty-gram to the editors of the Nonahood News because we did say no fast food, hear this out. The McDonald’s we are referring to is specifically the location at Boggy Creek and Narcoossee near St. Cloud. This specific location offers artisan hand-built burgers in a separate production line than their fast-food burgers. Here, you can choose your meat, type of buns, type of lettuce, other toppings, how much bacon (there is no such thing as no bacon), avocado, tortilla strips, etc. It’s pretty awesome. And we feel that not enough credit has been given where it’s due at this location because of the typical fast-food expectations. These crafted burgers will take a little longer than usual and can be ordered at one of the self-service kiosk screens inside for those who really want to explore the possibilities. The presentation of these burgers is also much fancier, and your fries come in a nifty wire basket lined with paper. You also will get a note with your meal that has the name of the person who made it for you. We promise, it’s different. Our suggestion, check every box. Just kidding…sort of.
Stop number nine was Canvas. By this time, we were starting to question our decision to try to eat 10 burgers in one night. Could a burger even taste good when we were this full? When the burger is as good as the Canvas barbeque burger, the answer is a resounding “yes!” This was the best burger of the night. The short rib and brisket patty was perfectly cooked. The pulled pork, thick bacon and white cheddar were plentiful, and the barbeque sauce and tomatillo aioli complimented it all perfectly. This burger is also stacked so tall, Canvas has to call MCO Air Traffic Control to approve clearance every time they want to serve one. Even nine burgers in, this was a truly great burger.
Stop ten and the final destination of the evening was Chroma. Here we chose the Chroma burger in the three-bite sliders section of the menu. The last stop did not disappoint. Cheddar cheese, bourbon onions and bacon jam on a juicy pair of sliders made a perfect finisher to the evening. These sliders are such a deliciously easy eat, the best word we could come up with to describe them was “smooth.”
So there you have it. Just in case you were wondering if there were any places to try a tasty burger around the Lake Nona area, umm…yeah. We also can confidently say we have some of the more unique, and maybe even the best, burgers in Orlando. Don’t believe us? Just try the BBQ burger at Canvas, the Big Floyd at Pig Floyd’s, an Arepa burger, and Junior Colombian burger dog, you won’t be disappointed.
If you have an idea for a food challenge, visit http://nonahood.to/foodchallenge.