Stu Helm’s 2018 Asheville Burger Survey Part 4: Slowing Down


I’m a well known burger fan. I eat a lot of burgers. Burger me. Gim burg. My current plan — don’t tell my doctor — is to eat all the burgers. Last year (2017), I began burger-binging my way through downtown Asheville, eating them here, there, and everywhere. I’m going rank each burger as I eat them, from BEST to WORST, fitting every burger I eat throughout the entire year into its appropriate ranking on the survey. I will also rate each burger on a five star scale, 5 being awesome, and zero being a complete shit show. Please enjoy!


Part 4: Slowing Down

Yeah… I had to ratchet back my burger intake a li’l bit, because holy Jesus. I was eating so many bacon-laced cheeseburgers that my cholesterol actually went up! Yikes. I don’t have a death-wish, but, I’m also not that bright, and have always had a strong streak of “who gives a fuckedness” in me, so I have still been trying all the burgers, just not as.. rapidly? So there aren’t as many to review this time around.

Plus, I’ve also gone back to eat some of my favorites more than once, like Carmel’s, Underground Cafe, Buxton Hall, and of course Bhramari Brewhouse, which is currently my #1 burger in Asheville. In fact, I went back to Bhramari not too long ago with my good friends and fellow food tour guides, Paddy and Dave, and we all got the burger, and they agreed with me that this burger kicks some serious ass.

Above: (L-R)Paddy Riels, Bhramari Burger, Dave Bristol. – photos by Stu Helm

So, this installment of the Burger Survey might be a little shorter than usual, but it will also include the Battle of the Burger AND some amazing Wagyu beef that you can buy for yourselves to cook at home. Yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t include any “home burgers,” but fuckin’ aye, Man. It’s Wagyu, and I know where to get it, so I’m sharing that info with you. You can thank me later. With gifts of meat.

Let’s get this shit rollin’ with the coupla entries that I have for you this month…


Above: 6 out of 7 single-use items in this picture are NOT made out of plastic. Yay! – photo by Stu Helm

★★★★☆ Burgerworx Custom Burger
Beef burger, American cheese, coleslaw, pickles, japeño peppers, ketchup, mustard, old-fashion burger bun”

I’ve been a fan of Burgerworx in The Grove Arcade for the entire 6 years that they’ve been open, and I’ve crushed a lot of their burgers in that time. I love their “smash” style burger patties, which are flat, wide, greasy, and cooked until well-done. I also love how quick and easy it is to get one of their burgers. Just grab a clip board, and start checkin’ boxes! Check one or two patties, bun or bowl, cheese choice, and pick from a long list of various free and not-free add-ons, like LTO (free), and bacon (not free), then hand your clipboard to the friendly person behind the counter, pay, and take a number. When your order’s up, they hand you a paper bag full of the goods!

Every order comes in paper bag, whether you order your food for here or to go, and everything in the bag (that’s not food) is made of paper or foil. I like that. You can see in the picture above that the water cup, unfortch was made from plastic. I don’t like that as much.

Above: Like all the best people, this burger’s beauty lies within. Also, pass the napkins, please. – photo by Stu Helm

I almost always customize my Burgerworx burger the same way: Single beef patty, American cheese, coleslaw, pickles, jalapeño peppers, ketchup, and mustard, all on an classicly soft old-fashion white bread burger bun. I lerv it. It’s perfect in it’s trashiness, and very satisfying on every level. Also, the fries at Burgerworx are amazing, and might be the best in Asheville.

Above: Note the very affordable price tag, and ample french fry grease seeping through the paper bag. Both of those things make me extremely happy.

So, yeah, when you want a “fast food” style burger in downtown Asheville that doesn’t suck, and is from a local, independently owned burger joint, not some shitty corporate giant, go to Burgerworx.  Also, I love it that their entire Google description consists of “Hamburger Restaurant.” #truth

“Hamburger Restaurant”
: 1 Page Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Sunday 11AM–3PM
Monday 11AM–8PM
Tuesday 11AM–8PM
Wednesday 11AM–8PM
Thursday 11AM–8PM
Friday 11AM–9PM
Saturday 11AM–9PM
Phone: (828) 253-2333

Li’l Classic for the Win!

My version of heaven. – photo by Stu Helm

★★★★★ Foothills Local Meats Butcher Bar: West, Classic Li’l Cheeseburger
American cheese, house pickles, diced sweet onions, ketchup, mustard, Duke’s mayonnaise

Foothill’s Butcher Bar in West Asheville is one of my favorite new jams, and if I lived within walking distance, I’d be walking there all the muhfuckin’ time. For reals. Everything I’ve eaten there, from the Reuben to the Cuban to the French fries to the hot dogs has been amazing. I thought their mac ‘n’ cheese (also pictured) was a real contender in the Asheville Mac ‘n’ Cheese Challenge.

Alas, they did not win the best Mac ‘n’ Cheese accolades from the judges’ table that day, but they DO win Burger Survey this month with a five star entry! Their “classic li’l cheeseburger” is cute, simple, and delicious! I could eat a bag o’ these little things, and actually, that is an option. The “Bag O’” burgers is listed in the to-go section of the menu and consists of 5 li’l classics plus a pound of tallow fries. Y’okay! I’m up for that.

Above: Merica on a bun, Y’all! Love it or leave it… for me… because I will eat the shit outta that! – photo by Stu Helm

The classic li’l burger is very much like a McDonald’s burger, if McDonald’s burgers were made with quality ingredients, and tasted good instead of like ass. It’s small, the single patty is flat, smash-grilled, and served on a classic, also grilled, white bun, with all the classic condiments, including the best mayonnaise on Earth: Dukes. (yes, I’ve been Southernized) Everything about this burger is classic, just in case you couldn’t guess by the fact that I’ve now used that word 500 times to describe it, and it’s called the “classic.” DUH! I recommend it very highly! Their other burgers are great too, if you wanna break away from the li’l classic! I recommend pimento cheese and bacon. Like I always do.

Corporate fast food sucks. But indie fast food, made with great ingredients, it’s where it’s at. This is a five star burger. No doubt about it.

Foothills Butcher Bar: West
“American menu made with sustainably sourced meats & other local goods, plus a butcher counter.”
Address: 697 Haywood Rd Unit E, Asheville, NC 28806
Sunday 10AM–9PM
Monday 11AM–11PM
Tuesday 11AM–11PM
Wednesday 11AM–11PM
Thursday 11AM–11PM
Friday 11AM–11PM
Saturday 11AM–11PM
Phone: (828) 417-7081

Burgers by the Dozen!

★★★★★ 2018 Battle of the Burger 12 Competitors

Okay, when I say that I cut back on the number of  burgers that I eat, I’m completely ignoring the fact that I was a judge at Battle of the Burger, and so I tried all 12 contenders, and ate an estimated total of three burgers just on that one day. Atsa lotta burgers! The winning burger, from Sand Hill Kitchen, was my personal favorite, while the 2nd place winner from The Rankin Vault was also outstanding. Third place went the Aux Bar, and I agreed with that as well, so my top three were in line with the top three over-all. The Vault also won the People’s Choice, so congrats to them for their double win on the big day! Well deserved.

You can read my detailed run-down of the entire 2018 Battle of the Burger HERE. I won’t be ranking each contender from the Burger Battle on the Burger Survey, because most of them did not serve a full-size burger, and some did not serve their traditional house burger.

Instead, I’ll give the entire event five stars and place it symbolically at the top of my rankings. Thank you, Kelly Denson for producing this epic annual food event!

Battle of the Burger
“Nearly 1500 people gather for the annual WNC Battle of the Burger held in July. Up to fifteen of Western North Carolina’s greatest chefs fire up their grills in the heart of Downtown Asheville in hopes of winning the title of WNC’s Best Burger.”

Wahoo Wagyu!

Above: (L – R) Beef in hand. Patty on a plate. – photos and burger by Stu Helm

★★★★★ Teague Natural Farms Wagyu / Black Angus Beef
Home-cooked burgers with Ski Queen whey cheese and ketchup on classic soft white store-bought bun

So, one day my friend Scott Fowler dropped me a note and asked if he could swing by my place and to bring me a pound of high-end hamburger. I said yes! Well, actually, I said, “HELL yes!” You can read the whole conversation HERE, but the bottom line is that, true to his word, Scott came by and gave me a package of frozen 30 day dry aged black Angus / wWagyu cross ground beef from Teague Natural Farms. Thanks, Scott!

I let the meat thaw, and in the meantime I bought some large, super-trashy, soft white buns at the grocery store, and as soon as possible, I started cooking burgers. The first burger that I cooked (above), I ate with nothing on it. No cheese. No Pickles. No ketchup, mustard, mayo. No LTO. No nuthin’. Nude, so to speak, save for the bun. It. Was. Fucking. Awesome.

Wagyu beef is famous for being marbled, and for being insanely delicious. I’m not an expert on it, and I feel as though I don’t have the vocabulary to describe how it’s better than other beef, it just is. Here in The United States Wagyu beef most often crossed with Black Angus beef, which is the case at Teague Farms.

Above: Bloody hell, that’s a good burger! – burger and photo by Stu Helm

I cooked and ate four burgers made with that beautiful beef. To three of them I added Ski Queen whey cheese (pictured above), and on two I even used a little ketchup. But I didn’t add anything else. Nothing else is needed! My favorite condiment, Lusty Monk Mustard, would have been a detraction in this case. Too powerful. When the beef itself is this good, you really don’t wanna taste much else.

The four burgers I cooked with this beef might be the four best I’ve ever cooked in my life. I would eat them forever if I could. Thanks again, Scott!

Teague Natural Farms
“Angus/Wagyu Cross beef. Grass and Grain fed to achieve artisanal marbling and fantastic taste. All natural: no antibiotics; no steroids and non-gmo grain.”
Address: Cane Creek Rd, Fletcher, North Carolina 28732
Monday – Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Phone: (828) 747-9804

And that’s all for this month’s installment of the 2018 AVL Burger Survey! Bellow are the standings, ranked from top to bottom. I’ve fit the new entries in where they belong on the survey.

2018 Asheville Burger Survey Rankings so Far

★★★★★ = Awesome
★★★★☆ = Really Good
★★★☆☆ = Solid
★★☆☆☆ = Not that great
★☆☆☆☆ = Bad
☆☆☆☆☆ = Horrible

★★★★★ Annual WNC Battle of the Burger
“Nearly 1500 people gather for the annual WNC Battle of the Burger held in July. Up to fifteen of Western North Carolina’s greatest chefs fire up their grills in the heart of Downtown Asheville in hopes of winning the title of WNC’s Best Burger.”

★★★★★ Bhramari Burger
“Spent Grain Fed Beef, Stout Wort Glaze, Crispy Onions, Oaked Mayo, Hop Smoked Black Truffle American Cheese, Candied Bacon, Pickles”

★★★★★ Sand Hill Kitchen’s Love Cheeseburger
Angus Burger with Swiss, Cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickled onions. [add bacon & pimento cheese]”

★★★★★ AUX Bar Animal House Burger
“Fresh Ground HNG Beef & Pork, LTO, Pickles, Special Sauce, Hand Cut Fries (Single or Double)”

★★★★★ Oyster House Brew Burger
Grass fed Hickory Nut Gap Farm ground beef topped with white cheddar, pepper bacon, fried oysters, lettuce, tomato and onion on a brioche bun.”

★★★★★ Foothills Butcher Bar: West
“American menu made with sustainably sourced meats & other local goods, plus a butcher counter.”

★★★★★ Teague Natural Farms
“Angus/Wagyu Cross beef. Grass and Grain fed to achieve artisanal marbling and fantastic taste. All natural: no antibiotics; no steroids and non-gmo grain.”

★★★★☆ Carmel’s Burger
Local free-range beef, cheddar [pimento cheese], lettuce, tomato, onion, [add pecan smoked bacon, add slaw]”

★★★★☆ Underground Cafe Smash Burger
1/4 lb. patty with lettuce, tomato, onion, ‘special sauce,’ choice of American, cheddar, or Swiss cheese served on Hawaiian roll. 1 or 2 patties”

★★★★☆ Tupelo Honey Pimento & Fried Pickle Burger
Creekstone all-natural pasture raised beef, pimento cheese, fried house-made pickles

★★★★☆ Universal Joint Steinbeck Burger
½ lb all natural angus chuck burger, pimiento cheese, bacon, pickled jalapeños

★★★★☆ Roman’s Pimento Burger
“House Smokey Pimento Cheese, Smoked Bacon, Vine Ripe Tomato & Organic Baby Spinach”

★★★☆☆ Rosetta’s Kitchen Vegan Cheeseburger
Signature house-made veggie burger served on a house-made whole wheat bun with lettuce, red onion, tomato and Vegenaise [+ vegan cheese]

★★★☆☆ Pack’s Tavern Buffalo Burger
Angus beef burger, LTO, pickles, blue cheese, buffalo sauce & shaved celery.”

★★☆☆☆ Juicy Lucy Burger
“Stuffed with American cheese and pick any toppings”

★★☆☆☆ Stone Ridge Tavern Super Burger
“Smothered in BBQ sauce, Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese, apple wood smoked bacon, and fried onion rings, on a toasted bun with lettuce tomato and mayonnaise”

★☆☆☆☆ The Med Cheeseburger
“Made fresh daily from lean ground beef, + served with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo + a pickle spear [+ American cheese]”

— END —


Follow me here on Ashvegas, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my own blog, where I post tons of food reviews, news, contests, pictures, funny stories, and #positivelists!

From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O’SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.


Some Dude September 4, 2018 - 9:30 am

It’s like Arden does not exist to you’ll. Try Abeija’s state street burger.

Rose Forbes August 31, 2018 - 10:23 pm

try the whole foods (tunnel road) burger and fries combo. just $8 freakin dollars and way beyond expectations. hickory nut gap farms beef and fresh cut fries. plus bacon and cheddar. second best fries I’ve ever had…and I’m definitely a fries connoisseur!

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