In 2014, Urbanicity launched their first Novemburger festival in the awesome city of Hamilton. It gathered Hamiltonians and neighbours in the surrounding cities to check out local restaurants, while raising funds for the United Way in our community. Restaurants showcased one special burger for the month of November and we got to rate them. I wasn’t able to check out the event last year, so I made sure to participate this year! Of course a few Hamilton foodies were all over this and I tagged along.
Chanry, Matt, Jen, and I decided to hit up a few of these restaurants in ONE day. So basically we went on a Novemburger tour. How many restaurants do you think we visited? If you guessed between 5 and 10, you’re pretty close. Our plan was to start at Jack & Lois and ride SoBi bikes to the next destinations. I, being a chicken shit and a snob, pussied out of the SoBi tour because of the chilly November weather. Being cold is one of my pet peeves. I met the gang at The Mule so I didn’t get to try the burger from Jack & Lois. Apparently, I didn’t miss much.
I wasn’t able to take a picture of The Mule’s Big Macasada ($12) but check out their Twitter @themuletacos for pics. Between the grilled tortillas were 4oz beef patties with a crispy fried tortilla in the middle. It’s also filled with queso fundido, spicy mayo, mule special sauce (tasted exactly like Big Mac sauce, nom), pickles, lettuce, onion, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. I loved the crunchy textures from the fried tortilla, fresh lettuce and pickles. The patties were savoury and the special sauce brought everything together.
We quickly hopped, skipped, and jumped over to HAMBRGR three doors down. Their #HamOnt Brgr ($13) had double patties (4oz each), grilled onions, ‘merican cheese, mustard glazed bacon (oh god), brgr sauce, and iceberg lettuce, all between a classic grilled bun. It looked like a typical cheeseburger but it looked mighty fine. Stacked beautifully with every ingredient peaking out somewhere, extra points for presentation. The patties were on the salty side but everything else was pretty perfect. The bun was able to hold everything together, wasn’t too dense or all up in your mouth, it was nice and soft. Meaty, cheesy, and well-balance. I liked it a lot and you would probably like it too.
We went around the block to Serve Ping Pong to check out their Good Morning Burger ($12). This was a 6oz Angus ground beef patty with melted white aged-cheddar, whiskey candied bacon (yep, yes please), confit cherry tomatoes, a fried egg, and housemade dill hollandaise sauce between a fried brioche bun. You’d think a breakfast burger would be salty and savoury. Nope, not this one. It was surprisingly sweet and savoury. The confit tomatoes added a different flavour to the moist burger. Once we started to tear it up, the melted cheese, runny egg yolk, and soft tomatoes made a sloppy mess. You can mop of the deliciousness with the fries that came with the burger! The patty was standard and the brioche bun quickly soaked up the juices and fell apart. The side of fries and slaw were a yummy surprise! It added good texture to the meal and we quickly killed it. Since we were on a time crunch, as soon as we ordered our burger, we also paid the the bill. Foodie-efficiency at its finest, we were on a mission.
Our next stops were around Augusta and James Street South. Mezcal TNT‘s aPORKalypse Now ($12) was probably the best in value because the pork patty was massive. It was topped with a bacon aioli, smoked cheddar (nom), chipotle ketchup, and double smoked bacon. Dripping with juicy goodness, it was cooked just right. We also ordered a jicama salad ($3) on the side to satisfy our cravings. Oh man, I could eat that all day. The fresh and subtly minty salad was perfectly light with a hint of sweetness from the bursts of pomegranate. Excellennttttt. We peaced out of Mezcal TNT so fast, it probably looked like a dine-and-dash situation.
A couple of doors down was Nellie James Too. They presented us with an open-faced Duck Burger ($16). The duck patty sat on a savoury bread bun with a bacon hollandaise sauce and a side of pickled kale salad. They are also the only restaurant to offer a vegetarian burger for Novemburger! The duck was flavourful and gamey, while the bun was a miss for me. I wasn’t familiar with the flavours in the bun and it added a weird sweetness to the dish. The pickled salad had bits of kale and sliced cucumber. I love pickled sides!
We scurried around the corner to One Duke for their Duke Ukrainian Burger ($14). This towering masterpiece consisted of two ground sirloin patties, potatoes and cheese stuffed perogie (yes, there was a perogie in the middle of it all), applewood smoked bacon, sauteed onions, sour cream, sharp cheddar, sauerkraut, sliced kielbasa, arugula, tomatoes, and green onions between a fresh potato scallion bun. You can get this for $14… Add this to the Novemburger value menu, danggggg dude! The patties were meaty and flavoured just right, the perogie was a fun touch, and everything else was pretty good. Of course it was hard to eat but we just broke it down and went to town. The height of the burger and the burger itself was definitely memorable.
We had time for one more burger, so we made our way to Acclamation Bar & Grill and got the Surf ‘n Turf Burger ($16). It’s made out of AAA ground beef, lobster butter, creamy gouda, arugula, and a citrus caper aioli on a bioche bun. The the small pieces of lobster were well-cooked but they were lost between the other savoury ingredients. The patty was a decent size that dominated the other ingredients and the bun was alright.
Woowee, well that was our last burger of the day and I needed to take a nap. The Novemburger tour lasted 4.5 hours of non-stop eating! I’m seriously surprised I was able to pull through. My top three picks were HAMBRGR, One Duke, and Mezcal TNT.
There are 32 restaurants participating this year and you can see all of the burgers here! Also, a lot of restaurants have recently opened around the downtown core and I used Novemburger as an excuse to visit them. Best idea ever. The month is half over but that still gives you two weeks to eat your way through Hamilton! Have you had any Novemburgers yet? Which ones were your favourite or which ones do you want to try? Tweet me or leave a comment below. I can’t wait for them to announce the winners of the most Novemburgers sold and Novemburger of the year.
Here are my ratings for each burger on our tour:
The Mule – Big Macasada • 3.5/5
HAMBRGR – #HamOnt Burger • 4.5/5
Serve Ping Pong – Good Morning Burger • 3.5/5
Mezcal TNT – aPORKalypse Now • 4/5
Nellie James Too – Duck Burger • 3/5
One Duke – Duke Ukrainian Burger • 4/5
Acclamation – Surf ‘n Turn • 3/5
Thanks for following along, there might be a part 2! Stay tuned.