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Battle - Burger

Welcome to round 1 of CV Battle - Burger. The series unfolds each month as we scour the city in search of the burgers touted “The Best” by owners, popular local media and foodie site polls & awards. Rounds of entries are anonymously presented to our panel of judges. Each round’s winner goes to the final round.
We enlisted the help of the 20 Brix staff as judges. Executive Chef Paul Barraco, General Manager & Level I Sommelier Clay Mitchell and Owner & Level II Sommelier Hunter

Thomas (all of 20 Brix) all have outstanding pallets in both food and drink. Why 20 Brix? Simple, 20 Brix does a serious burger of their own (a screaming mean 10 Oz. Blend of Ground Prime Beef and Braised Ohio New York Strip, White Wine Braised Onion, Beefonaise, 20 Brix Steak sauce). It can best most any in town, and often does. The team has earned many awards of their own. So, we know they know WTF their talking about. They kindly excused their beautiful burger from competition in order to help us out with some serious judging talent. This isn’t wannabe foodie blogger or “hired food critic” BS jibberish folks. This team puts perfection on a plate on a daily basis. You can rest assured our Battle - Burger judges are all packing pro pallets.

In this first round we throw the best NKY has to offer in the ring. These guys all top the lists and awards (Mad Mike’s, Sidebar and 915 Pub) in their area. They were judged anonymously and scores of 1-5 were given in 16 profile categories. The scores in all 16 categories were totaled and averaged. (Patty: size/ratio, texture, seasoning, juiciness, meat quality, flavor. Bun: size/ratio, texture, quality, freshness, flavor. Sauce: flavor, ratio. Toppings: freshness, quality. Appearance: overall). Finally, the total scores were averaged to determine the winner. This makes it virtually impossible to score low due to a single shortcoming.

Round 1 - The Scores

#3- Mad Mike’s - Newport. Total score - 3.40.
MIke’s scored well in the bun, sauce, toppings and appearance categories but scored only average on the patty criteria. Just one more reason for Mad Mike to be even madder.

#2- 915 Pub - Ft. Thomas, Total score 3.59.
915 scored well on their patty and bun but fell short on the toppings and appearance category. The judges all agreed they really liked this burger, now they know who it is.

#1- Sidebar - Covington. Total score 3.76.
Sidebar scored well across the board in every category. Chef Paul Barraco was intrigued with a mystery spice/flavor he could not identify, “coffee, maple, fenugreek... it’s a mystery driving me crazy”. The judges spent some time bouncing ideas on the mystery flavor but only Sidebar knows the secret. Sidebar will move on in the final round for their win this month. (photo-center)

Next month we hit up more top rated burger joints and throw them in the ring to fight it out for our judges top scores. We have a solid list of top burger joints in the Battle based on CityBeat, Cincinnati Magazine, MetroMix, Urbanspoon, Yelp and others. Every top contender will be included. However, some unknown or new pub may be out there serving something wonderful few know about. If you think you’re biz dishes out the Best burger in Cincy / NKY but you never make any of the lists, feel free to email us a request to be included ( We’ll give every worthy burger a shot at the title.

Mad Mike’s Burgers & Fries
342 Monmouth Street
Newport, KY 41071
(859) 360-MIKE (6453)

322 Greenup St
Covington, KY 41011
(859) 431-3456

915 Pub & Grill
915 N Fort Thomas Ave
Fort Thomas, KY 41075
(859) 441-1333