TSB’s Top Ten

Chuck's = 5.00
Only Burger = 4.88
Mojoe’s = 4.83
Al's Burger Shack = 4.75
Buns of Chapel Hill = 4.67
Brewmasters Bar and Grill = 4.67
Draft = 4.58
Johnson’s = 4.50
Barry's Cafe = 4.50
Capital Club 16 = 4.44

The Tao of Cow


Ask the Burgiatrist

Ask the Burgiatrist Is Back!


Ask the Burgiatrist

Dear Ask the Burgiatrist,

We’re hoping you can settle a workplace debate.

It’s been forever since you’ve published your amazing burger-advice column. I’m thinking that you’re probably taking a break or sabbatical or something. (Hey, even famous burgiatrists need to recharge the grill, right?) But my co-worker has this cuh-ra-zy story that I’m practically too embarrassed to tell you. She said that when Burger King put out its “French Fry Burger” a couple of years back, you were so horrified by the idea of a burger that was basically French fries on a patty that you swore off burgiatry forever! She said that you even kind of lost it and wound up in an institution or something. Obviously, she’s the one who’s nuts. :)

So where have you been, ATB? I hope you say you’re coming back—we miss you!

Your fan,

Melissa Guillory

Ronkonkoma, NY


Dear Melissa,

Thank you for your kind words, Melissa. I’ve heard many outlandish rumors surrounding my absence, but this one surely tops them all! I shall be forever bemused by society’s affection for outlandish fiction.

I’ll do my best to explain the reason for my absence, though you’ll forgive me in advance if the explanation is humdrum at best. The response might be short, as this strait jacket makes it difficult to write. 😉

Simply put, I elected to step away from “Ask the Burgiatrist” in 2013 to pursue interests my burgiatry schedule would not allow. Chief among these was a lifelong interest in winemaking. Thus I publicly announce that I’ve busied myself as an amateur—but wholly adequate, I hope!—vintner for something over two years. So there it is! And if my explanation hasn’t lulled you to sleep completely just yet, I’ll add this: Surprisingly, the arts of burgiatry and winemaking are strikingly similar. Like a great burger, a well-crafted wine is the product of cunning combinations—of fruits and tannins, of enzymes and yeasts, of fortitude and time. Unlike burgiatry, however, winemaking could not possibly tolerate a practice as banal and insipid as merely moving four French fries two inches over, from next to the burger to on the burger.

I mean, really?

Sure, if Burger King wanted to insult the intelligence of a swamp toad—let alone a leading authority on the burgiatric arts—couldn’t it have at least gone with some substantial quantity of fries, so the burger at least looked like something not ridiculous, instead of dicking around with literally four pathetic shoestrings—which hey, guess what, are exactly the same crappy fries you’re already eating anyway?

C’mon, people, seriously?

Hey, Burger King, I’ve got an idea for you! Why don’t you squirt some ketchup onto a patty and call it the BK We Put Ketchup On It For You Because Marketing Is Out of F**ing Ideas Burger? Because that idea is only marginally less Sh***ty than the one with the F***ing French fries.

Now hear this, Burger King, and hear it good.

For your crimes against burgiatry, for your unholy descent to the very nadir of burgiatric decency—nay, of dignity itself!—my burgiatric forebears shall rise above your places of business and poop on your pea-brained Fry Burger and all that it represents.

Though for the moment you may consider yourself lucky, as I must hastily conclude this missive. The nurses are ringing the snack bell, and woe unto you, Burger King, if I miss donut day.

Woe unto you.

Ask the Burgiatrist


In this undated photo, Ask the Burgiatrist learns of Burger King’s “French Fry Burger.”



Review #62 – Mattie B’s (Durham, NC)

Ready To Enter TSB’s Non-Commitment Contest? Kinda? Perfect!

Mattie B’s Public House isn’t ready to commit. Its menu and décor kinda feature a musical theme, kinda not. Its homemade chips kinda come as described, kinda not. Its sandwich selection is kinda organized by burgers and non-burgers, kinda not. The beef on its patty melt kinda covers about half the bread, kinda not. The patty is kinda cooked to order, kinda not.

But we’ll say this about Mattie B’s: Its unwavering commitment to not committing is nothing short of impressive. Inspiring, even. We mean, right on, Mattie B’s—we don’t wanna commit to stuff, either! In fact, we found ourselves waxing poetic about times in our own lives when were been ready to suck it up, step up to the plate, and remain completely non-committal. Here are a few:

  • I kinda want to run a marathon, but I’m not a big fan of running.
  • I kinda like driving fast and living hard, but insurance rates are so expensive.
  • I kinda want my bacon spread evenly on my burger, but the general vicinity is OK.
  • I kinda want an Apple Watch, but I’m not a big fan of watches.
  • I kinda want to follow Phish around the country, but I work ‘til 5 every day.
  • I kinda want to see the Stones in July, but I don’t want to sell my liver for a ticket.
  • I kinda feel ready to stop binge-watching Lost, but I only have like 7 seasons left.
  • I kinda like a music theme for the menu but…oh, hey, squirrel!
I kinda wanted a good burger, but I went to Mattie B's instead.

I kinda wanted a good burger, but I went to Mattie B’s instead.

So how ‘bout you? What are you totally committed to not committing to? Email your non-commitments to contest@thestraightbeef.com. Be sure to include the word kinda in some way. A Straight Beef T-Shirt for our favorite. TSB bumper stickers for three runners-up. Enter by May 22, 2015.

Meanwhile, we will commit to ratings.

Michael’s rating: 2.50 out of 5.0

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Scott’s rating: 2.50 out of 5.0

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Don’s rating: 2.75 out of 5.0

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Shawn’s rating: 2.75 out of 5.0

Score 5 Score 4Score 2

Mattie B’s overall ranking: 53 out of 62.

The Straight Beef Podcast #20

In podcast 20, Michael and Scott explore the McDonald’s FAQ: It’s like the
truth, only smothered in liquid margarine.

Subscribe to our podcast through iTunes or download the episode directly through Libsyn.

Review #61: Capital Club 16 (Raleigh)

Review #61: Capital Club 16 (Raleigh)

With guest reviewer Shawn Krest

The Straight Beef was fortunate enough to break burgiatric bread with CBS sportswriter and veteran wordsmith Shawn Krest. (More about Shawn below.) That the burger inspired our inner Bard—with Shawn taking the lyrical reins—was a bonus of Shakespearean proportions.


Lo for these many months have we taken arms against a sea of bad burger-smiths, having sampled more meh burgers than you could Shake a Speare at.

Too often in these months were we great eaters of bad beef, and I believe that it doth harmed our wit.

But our long winter has been made summer by Capital Club 16.

Rich and flavorful was the Capital Club 16 burger, a blend of brisket, chuck, and sirloin. Plus some kind of seasoning that we couldn’t ply from the server.

Would a burger by any other name taste as savory?

Would a burger by any other name taste as savory?

Leaf lettuce instead of shredded was an interesting choice, but the melted cheese, coating the entire patty, made up for any other topping complaints. I can’t find a Shakespeare quote about French-kissing an angel, so I can’t accurately describe the pimento cheese burger.

The patties were cooked evenly. If you pricked it, it did not bleed, but was soft and pink throughout.

For an extra $1.50, you could get slab bacon or upgrade your burger to “golden buck style,” with a fried egg on top. Give me an egg, nuncle, and I’ll give thee two crowns.

The only tragedy we could find was with the bun. But soft … is what we were given, instead of toasted. The bun also wasn’t evenly split, giving us too much dry bread on top and a thin bottom layer that fell apart before we were finished, leaving our civil hands unclean.

The burgers came with fries, which created a melancholy of mine own. They were excellent, but we were told that the Capital Club 16 fries were “the best in the state.” Oh young fry of treachery, it was bound to be a letdown from such a haughty perch.

The desserts were like the attentions of a maiden fair.

After more than a year of unquiet meals making ill digestions, along came Capital Club 16. O! My sweet beef, I must still be good angel to thee.

Michael’s review:

To burger or not to burger—that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler on the palate to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous burgers

By sending them to Capital Club 16?

4.25 out of 5.0

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Don’s review:

If burgers be the food of love, then burger on, Capital Club 16. Burger on.

4.5 out of 5.0

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Scott’s review:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Though—and I’m just being honest here—I’ll take Capital Club 16’s Club Burger over you AND the thing I just said about summer. I mean, c’mon, that burger was fantastic. So…we good? —Sonnet 18 (early draft)

4.5 out of 5.0

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Shawn’s review:

Give them great meals of beef and iron and steel, and they will eat like wolves and fight like devils.

4.50 out of 5.0

Score 5 Score 4 Score 3 Score 1 Score 2

Shawn Krest picked up his burgiatry on the streets, unlike the East Coast elite with their advanced burgiatry degrees. After graduating from the school of hard rolls, he moved south and still doesn’t understand the concept of barbecue. Shawn would never pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today, so don’t lend him money.

Capital Club 16’s overall ranking: 10 out of 61.

The Straight Beef Podcast #19

What 5 burger trends are worth watching in 2015? Michael and Scott tackle ’em all…down to the last pickled beet.

Subscribe to our podcast through iTunes or download the episode directly through Libsyn.

Reverend Rants: Don’s Sweet Juice


Reverend Donald C. Corey

People often ask me, “Reverend, why ya drinkin’ that funny sodey-pop with your burger?” They tell me I should be imbibing some newfangled ale concoctions instead. To me, those things taste like they got concocted up in a public bathhouse. No, my flock, I do not sully or besmirch the burger with such rotgut. Instead, I pleasure myself with a drink so perfect, so heavenly, that it can salvage even the most heinous sins against burgiatry.

“What is this holy of holies?” you ask. The answer is something I call “Don’s Sweet Juice.”

Before I tell you the secret to DSJ, I’ll warn you that it’s delectable in ways that can only be described as magic. It so brims with explosions of flavor that you will never want for greater refreshment. It’s also got a mere one-third of the calories of a normal soda drink. Sounds too good to be true, I know. The Reverend hears you. Yet Don’s Sweet Juice may be found at most restaurants that offer fountain sodas.

Why isn't it blue?

Why isn’t it blue?

Here is your mission, my flock:

  1. Fill your cup halfway with ice.
  2. Add Diet Pepsi* to roughly the top of the ice.
  3. Here’s the tricky part: Fill about a 2/3 of the remaining empty space with regular Pepsi, leaving just enough room for a splash of additional Diet Pepsi on top.
  4. Drink and enjoy. It is best to be sitting as you do, as you might lose your balance as you soar to heaven.

Now go spread the word of this knowledge I have bestowed upon you. And rejoice, my flock.

*You are asking, “What about Coke? Can I substitute? The answer is yes, though the result will be “Don’s Slightly Less Sweet Juice.” Still better than any other beverage, but not in the same league as the pure DSJ, which is, quite frankly, like crack to me.


Wanted: Burgiatrist

The Straight Beef is seeking a new member to join its merry band of burgiatrists.

Must live in the Triangle. Must be a sharp writer with an offbeat sense of humor. Must have strong social media/marketing skills. Must be in it for the laughs. Passion for burgers a plus.

Email thestraightbeef@gmail.com and convince us that you’re the burgiatrist we’re looking for.

Review #60: Elevation Burger (Raleigh)


Elevation Venn graphic

Do you drive a Prius? Do you own a recumbent bike? Have you ever organized a protest? If you answered yes to any one of these, have we got a burger place for you!

Do you love hamburgers? Well…

Elevation Burger, one of the latest boutique burger chains to tackle the Triangle, talks a lot about sustainability, about organic and grass fed and free range. What it doesn’t talk much about is the delicious flavor of its burgers. There’s a reason for that.

An Elevation burger is a burger you eat on principle. Because you want to feel good about where your food comes from. Because you like companies that respect the environment. Because it’s the right thing to do. And because if you find yourself thinking, “Gee, this isn’t very good,” you can always console yourself with the printed menu, which depicts—in cheery graphics—how other burger chains hate cows and the Earth and are doing their best to destroy them.

Free-range, grass-fed beef can be a wonderful thing. However, in its zeal to appeal to the suburban soy-latte demographic, Elevation Burger placed fat—and hence flavor—too low on its checklist.

Elevation Burger’s vision is to be “much more than just a burger restaurant.” However, it might need to tackle the “burger” part before striving for the “much more.” That’s what we’d call sustainable.


“You going to eat that?” “No.” “Me neither.”

Chad’s Review: 2.25 (though the fries are truly excellent)

The aftermath tells the tale. Four hungry and adventurous burger eaters sat down at the table. Three of us left our burgers unfinished. I picked through the remains of mine trying to salvage a dab of mustard or a leftover pickle, desperate for anything with some moisture or flavor.

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Don’s Review: 2.25

What I appreciate about Elevation Burger is that they know what’s best for you. If you order grilled onions and they don’t put them on the burger, as was the case with mine, it’s because you don’t need them. To me, it’s the burger you order on principle, and the one you don’t finish—on principle.

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Michael’s Review: 2.50

I’m guessing that the calorie count on the menu assumes—correctly—that you’ll leave a quarter of the burger on your plate.

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Scott’s Review: 3.25

My overall review was more positive than that of my colleagues. Though I did use an obscene amount of ketchup. (Seriously, Scott was nearly wrist-deep in ketchup by the time he finished his burger.)

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Overall ranking: 54 out of 60

The Straight Beef Podcast is on CodeBass Radio

We have exciting news. The Straight Beef Podcast is streaming on CodeBass Radio on Thursdays at 9:00 PM EDT. http://cbrtune.in