Much of this page was taken from the initial First Things First.post which appeared on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016. Check back periodically for updates!
What made you decide to try and find the best burger in Central Indiana?
I initially got a notion to track down the best burger in my hometown of Indianapolis when I heard this story on the Freakonomics podcast about Emily O’Mara, a woman who went on a year-long quest to find the best burger in her own hometown of Louisville, KY.
Shortly after hearing that story, I took to Facebook, asking family and friends for their recommendations for the best burger joint in the Central Indiana area. I got a lot of great suggestions. Then, I got a hold of a couple reliable sources of journalism, like Indianapolis Monthly and NUVO for their thoughts on Indy’s best burgers. Finally, I took to the Internet with the same questions and added those recommendations to the ones I’d already compiled.
After a good deal of searching, I’ve compiled a list of over 75 locations in the Central Indiana area (i.e. – Indianapolis and its surrounding suburbs) to try over the course of this project (however long it may last). And it’s growing all the time!
What criteria do you use when choosing a burger to review?
- Must be local! There are a number of national or near-national chains that make a great burger, but if I’m going to look for the best burger in Indy, I can’t be looking in too many other places. For my purposes, I’m looking at either local restaurants/food trucks, local chains (only within the state of IN), or regional chains (in Indy and up to three surrounding states). See above for the full list or contact me about adding other restaurants I may be missing!
- Must be beef! While I have nothing against non-beef burgers in theory, the classic burger is a beef burger. In the interest of consistency and lack of any personal bias I may have, all the burgers I try must be beef.
- Must have cheese! I’m neither keeping kosher nor lactose intolerant, so as far as I’m concerned, cheese is a fundamental component of a burger. I’ll stick to classic American unless the burger in question comes standard with another type of cheese.
- Must start simple! Standard cheeseburger first, then upgrade to the specialty burgers on return visits. Exceptions may be made if there is a ‘house’ burger (one the place is known for) OR a burger named after the establishment. *ADDENDUM* In the event that there is a ‘build your own burger’ situation rather than a ‘classic’ or ‘house’ burger, I will choose from the standard burgers on the menu rather than building my own.
- Must stick to the standard toppings! This means no topping substitutions or additions! (This goes for condiments as well – which is hard for mayo-loving me!) I will add cheese, if it doesn’t come standard. If given a choice, I’ll opt for American or the closest mild cheese I can get. If no toppings come standard, I may upgrade to lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle (as available).
How are you scoring these burgers?
There’s a lot of subjectivity in judging of this kind, so there needs to be an objective standard. After looking online for some judging rubrics, I decided on the EAT Method employed by the regional Bull Burger Battle along with other reputable burger-rating organizations.
EAT is an acronym for the three qualities that come into play when qualifying any foodstuff – Execution, Appearance, and Taste. Execution refers to how the burgers are assembled and put together, along with other ‘intangibles’ like creativity and eatability (ease with which the burger can be eaten). Appearance obviously refers to how the burger looks, while Taste refers, again obviously, to the flavor and quality of ingredients used.
I’m awarding a total of 3.5 points for Execution, 1.5 for Appearance, and 5 for taste – for a total of ten points.
To be clear, I’m only judging the burgers themselves – not the sides, the ambiance, or the restaurant itself. Just the beef, cheese, bread, and toppings. Purist.
Where are you finding all these tasty burgers?
I’ve got a completely different page set up to answer this question. Check that one out!
What do you consider “Central Indiana”? That seems a bit broad…
I suppose it is. For my purposes, Central Indiana is any location within 50 miles of Monument Circle at the heart of Downtown Indianapolis. Any burger that falls within that framework is one that I will consider ‘eligible’ as one of the Best Burgers in Central Indiana.
What about burgers outside of Central Indiana? Will you ever review anything outside of that range?
I do travel on occasion and, when I do, I’m always on the lookout for a great burger wherever I go, so I’ll definitely be trying and reviewing them as well! That having been said, I won’t be including them in my quest for the best burger in Central Indiana. That’s fair, right? I will, however, be limiting myself to local and regional restaurants for all my “Burgers Abroad” reviews.
How long do you plan to do this?
Short answer? As long as it takes! I have no time table, so I’m in this for the long haul. As long as it takes to find the best burger in Central Indiana!