Renegade Review: Burger 21 (Tampa, FL)

I found myself with my family in Tampa, FL, hankering for a burger. My brother-in-law suggested heading to Burger 21, another contender in the “fast casual” boutique burger category. What I didn’t realize at the time is that there is a location in Cary. Perhaps The Straight Beef will hit it for an official review.

Burger 21 is essentially The Loop Pizza Grill except its focus is on burgers instead of pizza. Granted The Loop serves decent burgers, but I digress.

I ordered The Bacon Cheesy, a standard bacon cheeseburger on a brioche bun. I was pretty impressed with the outcome. The machine pressed patty was nicely seasoned without being peppery. It was also cooked to a perfect medium. Cooking burgers to medium is a fairly uncommon thing even amongst supposed fine burger purveyors. Getting it in a chain burger joint was a very pleasant surprise. The bacon was evenly spread and melted within the cheese, a nice touch which showed care in the creation. If only they had shown as much care with the rest of the burger build.


Tomato? Come on out. It’s OK. Don’t hide. I won’t bite. Wait…

Proper burger architecture is critical. With this burger, however, the lettuce, tomato, and red onion were wedged in between the patty and the bottom bun, a fatal flaw. The poor construction wilted the lettuce and kept the onions and tomato far away from the generously applied mayo on the top bun. This made for a slimy mess of a bottom bun by the time I was done, dragging down what was otherwise a fine burger.  There is a reason lettuce, tomato, onions, etc. are called toppings and not bottomings.

With that caution in mind, and if you don’t mind rebuilding your burger, head to a nearby Burger 21. The small chain is a welcome addition to the boutique burger category and worthy of a full Straight Beef review in the near future. — MM