We Got the Meat

Chef Judi's Picks for the Best Burgers and Steaks in Town

Chef Judi shares her favorite spots for steaks and burgers.

By Judi Gallagher June 7, 2017

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Where's your favorite place to grab a burger?

I love burgers. I mean, I really love burgers. Give me a juicy, medium-rare burger with cheddar melting down the sides and a thick slice of Vidalia onion, and I am just giddy.

When I was a pre-teen, and still a very picky eater, my mom would make me blade steak or a hamburger for breakfast. I loathed cereal and eggs, and was fortunate to have that type of mom who said, "As long as it doesn’t have sugar in it, I will make it for you.”

I grew up in Manchester, Conn., where Shady Glenn cheeseburgers are an institution. Seriously! To this day, when I meet people in Sarasota from Connecticut, especially if they went to UConn, we salivate remembering the crispy cheese curled atop a frozen burger patty.

Today, we can get bison burgers wrapped around lettuce (S’Macks) and double cheeseburgers without the bun (Burger Fi). That's a healthier choice, and I do try to keep my newly dumped weight off by avoiding the buns, but make no mistake, if you serve me a monster juicy burger on a buttery brioche bun (Made)--or  even better, with truffle fries (Libby’s)--I just wanna start break dancing.

Then there are steaks. Give me something big thick and juicy. Rib eyes and porterhouses for this one. Filet mignon is just too lean for me. After a long hiatus, I ventured into Fleming’s, and sure enough the bone-in ribeye seared to a juicy perfection is still my calling card when dining out. Ruth’s Chris also teases me with sliders and a bone-in NY strip sizzling with butter--yes, yes, yes.

When Sean Murphy from the esteemed Beach Bistro recently presented me with a seared steak sandwich with foie gras, demi-glace and béarnaise on a sweet Hawaiian roll, well, I nearly got down on my knees and wept--I felt like I'd achieved culinary nirvana.

So, as I head over to the Butcher Block for ground beef and hand-cut porterhouse steaks, and The Fresh Market for steak kabobs and prime rib to grill on the Big Green Egg this weekend, I know our carnivore celebration is destined to be oh-so juicy. 

What's your favorite steakhouse or burger spot? (And for even more local burger goodness, don't miss our July "Best Burgers" issue.)

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