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Hamburgers: The New South Beach Diet

Bored or broke, nothing beats a burger


Cholesterol must be the new black.

To look around South Beach the past few years, you’d forget that our name was once attached to a trendy, effective healthy diet. Where South Beach was teeming with whole grains and sushi, smoothies and rabbit food, now it seems every new restaurant that opens is battling to see who can kill you faster.


And the most prominent among them is the explosion of burger joints.

Once relegated to fast food drive-thrus and diners, the hamburger is now the centerpiece of a culinary explosion. In South Beach alone, we’ve seen the opening of 8 oz. Burger Bar, Burger and Beer Joint, Shake Shack, Five Guys, Five Napkin and a handful of other hamburger restaurants. This doesn’t even begin to cover what’s happened around the rest of South Florida, as nearly every nightlife and entertainment district in the region has seen the opening of some sort of hamburger-oriented establishment.


But if America is constantly fighting its obesity problem, why is the artery-clogging hamburger the hottest menu staple since tofu?  Doug Thielen, a marketing representative for Denver-based Smashburger – which opened its first Dade County store this month in North Miami – says America was tiring of healthy food.


“The pendulum just had to swing back the other way,” he said. “With the Food Network showing all these interesting ingredients, and fuller flavors, people started wanting to experiment with them. Even if they weren’t as healthy as some other things out there.”

South Florida’s resident Burger Mayven Sef “Burger Beast” Gonzalez thinks it may have more to do with the economy.

“People still associate a burger with something that’s affordable, if they want to go out to eat,” he said. “So a restaurant that has that, even if it’s a nice place, people are going to think is something they can afford. Instead of somewhere with something fancy.”

“A quarter-pounder at McDonald’s now is like $5. Why would I go get that when for $7.50 I can go to Shake Shack and get a much higher-quality product? People want affordable with quality, and that’s what these higher-end burgers are all about.”



If you’re trying to wrap your head around the burger craze and don’t really know where to start, The Burger Beast recommends five places that can make for a good introduction into this new field of cuisine.

“If you’re up in Broward, I’d say Charm City Burger in Deerfield or Bill’s Filling Station in Wilton Manors are the top ones.”


“Down here in Miami, Bourbon Steak in Aventura, Burger and Beer Joint in South Beach and Brickell, and of course, Shake Shack, which is hands down the best I’ve had.”

Shake Shack has developed a sort of cult following in New York over the years before coming to Miami. And some, including the Beast himself, don’t get it right away.

“The first time I went to Shake Shack, I was like ‘What’s the big deal?’” he said. “But you know how some people are like born-again into religion? That was me with Shake Shack. The second time I had it it’s like this light shone down from the top of the restaurant, and I GOT it. Now, every time I’m in the beach all I can think about is ‘Maybe I can get over to Shake Shack.’”


So that everyone can get a taste of the burger madness, Burger Beast has aligned himself with The Grind, a local Miami burger festival where 30 burger joints will compete for the title of Best Burger. Where the South Beach Food and Wine Festival runs a similar event for $225, this locals’ event is only $75. And offers beer, wine, and 30 different burger options.

It will be March 31st in Wynwood.

Even if you can’t make it out to The Grind, many of the new burger options in South Florida will surprise you. What was once thought of as strictly fast food or junk food is the newest entry in the gourmet food game. And definitely worth indulging in, if only to see what all the fuss is about.



Related Categories: Miami: Local News, Miami: Food & Restaurant News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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2 Comments on

"Hamburgers: The New South Beach Diet"

Christy says:

The burger restaurants do really well because Miami has so many international visitors who want to try “American food”, and burgers are what they associate with that. Shout out to Shake Shack!

Posted on 01/18/2012 at 12:28 PM

Matthew Jones says:

Though it is true that burgers contribute to being cheapest heart attack you’ll ever but nowadays, there are numerous places where you can get ‘healthy burgers’. It’s just a matter of mind conditioning that healthy burgers are the real deal.

Posted on 01/25/2012 at 6:21 PM

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