SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — It all started like this: Port City Taste restaurant week launched in January in an effort to support all-local dining. When it wrapped in February, after 14 days of edible bliss, the excitement, the deliciousness, the variety of prix-fixe menus offered throughout the region left diners abuzz. Coming out of a hard year of Covid-19 shutdowns, restaurants needed the love and, well, dedicated Port City Daily readers rallied with all their might.
So, as spring rolled around — and people were getting out more upon getting vaccinated and with Covid numbers on the decline — we at Port City Daily asked: How do we continue capturing that community-driven, simpatico spirit, where both restaurants and diners are driven to support each other even more?
The answer came in America’s favorite handheld: Burger Week.
Port City Taste’s inaugural Burger Week — sponsored by Port City Daily — has brought together 28 local restaurants across the region that have been mixing, grinding, topping, smashing, and creating for the dining public the tastiest varieties of burgers imaginable — from the classic to the traditional to the fun to the out of the ordinary.
True Blue has gone Spanish, in honor of opening its latest restaurant, Mariposa Tapas Bar, last week. Chef Bobby Zimmerman described the burger to Port City Daily in March: “We use an organic three-month organic Manchego that is super melty and then we’ve make an Nduja butter, which is basically spreadable salami, to go on top.”
Over at Poe’s Tavern, Wrighstville Beach’s burger haven, kitchen manager Jeremy Black said coming up with original menu items is the fun of his job. “I walk into a kitchen, look at ingredients and think to myself, ‘What does the average person like or want to eat — and what’s going to sell?'” he said.
He came up with menu of three: a crab rangoon burger, smoked brisket burger and vegetarian bruschetta burger.
Black took to Poe’s smoker to create tender, juicy brisket, topped it with smoked gouda, BBQ sauce and fried onions, all stacked on an Angus patty. “It’s an idea that I had juggled around in my head for a while,” Black admitted. “It’s one of those burgers you don’t do very often but people remember.”
For the crab rangoon inspiration, he said he thought back to a job he used to have at a Thai restaurant. “I’ve done a few different styles of cuisine over the years,” he said, “and I search for ways to blend those styles. We sold a lot of crab rangoons at the Thai restaurant, so I deconstructed it and set it atop a burger.”
For vegetarians, Poe’s homemade black bean patty comes loaded with basil and spinach pesto, compound basil goat cheese, bruschetta, and a balsalmic drizzle.
Other chefs have followed suit on creativity for Port City Taste Burger Week: handmade vegan burgers, shrimp burgers, a burger with a Britts donut, another with pimento cheese, topped with eggs, bacon, all the goodies. It can be found this week only, specially priced and ready to make everyone praise the invention of the burger.
Better yet, it’s easy to participate: No coupons, no special passwords, no tickets are needed. Just ask participating restaurants for the Port City Taste Burger Week menu.
Click the photos below to scroll through the gallery; Burger Week continues through Sunday, May 23.
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