Eight burgers across northern Indiana have risen above the rest – but the search for the very best burger isn’t over yet.
More than 30,000 votes were cast in The Northern Indiana Burger Wars to determine top winners in seven counties. The burgers and their restaurants from Porter, LaPorte, St. Joseph, Marshall, Koscuisko, Elkhart and LaGrange counties will move into the regional championships this Friday, June 13. One pair of buns will emerge victorious on July 7.
The first-ever search for the best burger in the area began May 16, coordinated by the Northern Indiana Tourism Development Commission and area county convention bureaus. Winners for each county were announced June 9. Dan Bearss, executive director of the commission, didn’t know what to expect.
“It was the first year we’ve done this,” said Bearss. “It was incredible. There were more than 30,000 votes over the course of one month and lots of engagement from counties, both residents and tourists.”
The Burger Wars brought both awareness and business to the restaurants during three rounds of voting, Bearss said. Area restaurants that entered the Burger Wars reported they were selling about 25 burgers per week before the contest begin; once voting was underway, some were selling almost 200 burgers every week.
“It’s great that we could help support local restaurants through this,” Bearss said.
While seven counties were involved, the commission needed an even number of teams for the regional bracket; an eighth winner with the highest number of second place votes is also in the running.
The following eight restaurants and their winning burgers will compete for the champion title:
Stella Moo Burger: Flippin’ Cow, Elkhart (Elkhart County)
A double steak burger topped with smoked brisket, jalapeño bacon, onion straws, pepper jack cheese and an alehouse BBQ sauce on a toasted wheat brioche bun.
CopperTop Burger: Riegling’s Copper Top, Wolcottville (LaGrange County)
The Black Angus patty with fried pickles, crispy onion rings, bacon jam, lettuce, tomato, cheddar and bistro sauce won in a 75 percent vote.
Hawaiian Burger: The Lakehouse Grill, Culver (Marshall County)
This favorite burger is topped with Swiss cheese, fresh grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce.
Hoe Burger: American Legion Post 253, North Webster (Kosciusko County)
This ground beef patty is topped with American cheese, sweet shaved ham, Swiss cheese, a fried egg and pepper jack cheese and served on a toasted bun.
The Becky Burger: The View Tavern, South Bend (St. Joseph County)
The Becky Burger has American and Swiss cheeses, BBQ sauce, grilled onion and bacon.
Grecian Lamb Burger: Shoreline Brewery and Restaurant, Michigan City (LaPorte County)
The only winning ground lamb burger is seasoned with fresh garlic, oregano and Mediterranean flavor and topped with feta, baby arugula, dill Tzatziki sauce, shaved cucumber, tomato and red onion.
The Octave Grill, Chesterton (Porter County)
Porter County’s winning restaurants chose not to enter specific burgers, but voted for the restaurants’ burgers overall. The Octave Grill makes its burgers with grass-fed beef, as well as local cheese from Fair Oaks Farms.
The Franklin House, Valparaiso (Porter County)
Porter County’s highest voted second-place winner has a popular house burger featuring peanut butter, bacon, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise and a sunny-side up egg on German pretzel bun.
The first round of regional voting will began Friday, June 13, at noon for a 10-day period, with two week-long rounds to follow. Northern Indiana’s best burger will be declared on July 7.
The commission plans to hold an awards ceremony at the champion restaurant with “a plaque and banner to stick up,” said Bearss. Burger Wars’ winner will also be featured on the Northern Indiana Tourism website, with a burger trail for restaurants that participated. Voters are eligible to win a grand prize $25 gift certificate to each of the eight participating restaurants.
To have a say in the winning burger or track results, visit the Burger Wars site.