Behind the Charlotte Burger Blog
A Q&A with Giovanni Gutierrez and Patrick Creech
For nearly four years, Giovanni Gutierrez and Patrick Creech have blogged about the city’s burger scene with the aliases “Angus” and “Hereford.” They weigh, measure, and review every burger they eat and estimate they’ve had about 60 local burgers. Here, we ask them about everything from their favorite toppings to the best way to wash the burgers down.
Q How did you get started with the Charlotte Burger Blog?
A Gutierrez: We always wanted to do a review site. We were talking one day and said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be really cool to review burgers?” Charlotte has such an eclectic group of people, and they all seem to enjoy eating burgers.
Creech: It was right when The Penguin was changing operational groups, when Pinky’s was opening up, and when lots of interesting places were starting, like The Cowfish. It felt kind of like a burger renaissance.
Gutierrez: Our main quest is just to try every burger in town. I’ve gained 40 pounds since we started.
Q You guys don’t like to talk about the “best” burgers, but who makes your favorite burger in town?
A Creech: It really depends on what you want. There are lunch burgers and dinner burgers, diner burgers, and gourmet burgers. My absolute favorite is South 21. When I first moved to Charlotte, it was one of the places I fell in love with.
Gutierrez: Zack’s. My favorite gourmet burger is at Block & Grinder.
Q What are the elements of a good burger?
A Creech: I would say we would be more systematic if we knew what we were doing, but we try to be systematic, and we still don’t know what we’re doing. We weigh and measure each burger for scientific purposes. [laughs.] Not really. There are three elements we look at: bread, meat, and toppings. We evaluate each of those separately and how they work together. Like different songs in an album, to use a really pretentious metaphor.
Gutierrez: The thing people need to focus on is that patty. If you can’t get that right, the whole burger is ruined. We’ve had that burger.
Creech: Quite a few times. The toppings will be outstanding, but the burger itself will be lackluster or overcooked. Overcooked is our No. 1 complaint about burgers in Charlotte. We talked with a restaurant manager in Charlotte who said their company prefers not to serve rare burgers, even though legally they can, because of customer complaints.
Gutierrez: That said, places like South 21, you’re not going to get a rare burger. But it’s a completely different style. These type of burgers, you need to have them cooked well done, as they are. Same with Mr. K’s. My favorite burger is cooked well done. But if I’m going to have that gourmet burger, that $12 or $13 burger, I want it rare.
Creech: I have very high expectations for that too. If I order it medium, I don’t want it cooked medium well. It’s one of the most disappointing things.
Q What kind of reaction do you get when you pull out your little scale and tape measure and start sizing up a burger?
A Creech: People realize we’re not normal in the first place. Our waitress figures it out pretty fast, but that’s when people around us start to ask, “What’s wrong with those guys?”
Q For me, a good burger needs a cold beer. What’s the best one to go with a gourmet burger?
A Gutierrez: Olde Mecklenburg Copper. We enjoy all local beers, but that’s my favorite.
Creech: I love Birdsong’s Jalapeño Pale Ale, and if I’m getting something with a little bit of spice, I’ll order that.
Q What are the craziest toppings you’ve found?
A Creech: Nom Nom probably has the craziest toppings of anything I’ve had: kimchi, sesame roasted nori, orange marmalade. And lots of crazy things going on with bacon. The bacon science experiments are pretty common.
Q Fries, tots, or onion rings?
A Gutierrez: If onion rings are offered, we usually get some and try them.
Creech: Waffle fries are the best. There’s no other argument. If you say anything else, you’re wrong. Waffle fries are perfect—they’re crisp yet large enough to accept a lot of ketchup. End of debate.