When I was a kid my father would say to me, “Son, one of these days you’re going to turn into a burger.” There’s always tomorrow.

I’ve been a fan of the burger and all of its glory since I was old enough to order from the menu. From backyard grills to gourmet offerings — it’s the ultimate American meal experience. A timeless, handheld feast adored by so many. Whether you like tons of crazy toppings, or minimal extras, the burger has something for everyone. A blank canvas where you’re the artist.

Food fanatics have a hard time agreeing who’s at the top of any food list. And burgers are no exception. After we set all the stubbornness and loyalty aside, can we at least agree the most important part of a good burger — starts with good beef and good bun.

Dressing your burger with pastrami belly and farm fresh cheddar for example, is pale in comparison to the importance of good beef and good bun. A hunk of fresh, premium beef paired with an underachiever-bun is an epic fail. The same goes for a frozen patty in cahoots with an award-winning brioche. It’s a two way street. What would Sonny have been without Cher, or Simon without Garfunkel. Exactly.

I consider myself an expert when it comes to what’s involved with a great burger. I’ve conquered burgers all over this land. From the Empire State to the Windy City — from South Beach to the City of Angels, and while some left a lasting impression, others were quickly forgotten.

What I’ve learned throughout my ongoing burger travels, is the serious potential we have right here in Beaver County.

Reader’s Note: The following establishments are in no way strictly burger joints, and all offer plenty of delicious selections for the burger hater in your family.

Pit-Stop Family Restaurant, Bridgewater


Who remembers when this corner lot was a Mexican joint? Now It’s a place known for killer breakfast, friendly service, and under the radar burgers.

The burgers at the Pit-Stop remind me of those grenades my grandmother would make when I was a kid. Satisfying and has you begging for an afternoon nap. The fresh, half-pound burgers are served on a metal tray, with a generous pile of fresh cut fries.

The Pit-Stop has a staggering 23 burgers to pick from. Making it difficult for someone who’s indecisive and greatly appreciative of variety simultaneously. The struggle is real my friends. I put my game face on and made the decision to go with the Jalapeño Bottle Cap burger, because lightly breaded jalapeños and hot pepper cheese on a burger is a great idea. An over easy egg, a little yellow mustard, and raw onion to solidify its character. The burger didn’t stand a chance — satisfaction confirmed.

Hollywood Gardens, Rochester

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There are plenty of burgers named after Big Ben (#7), and nowhere near enough named after the Coen Brother’s cult classic, The Big Lebowski. At least in our area there aren’t. Anywhere you can order a burger named after “The DUDE” has to be good, Right? I assure you all of the burgers at Hollywood Gardens are much more than just cool names — and as legit as burgers can be. It should be on everyone’s burger list.

The burgers at Hollywood start with fresh, perfectly seasoned beef cooked to order, accompanied by a toasted Mancini’s Kaiser bun or pretzel roll. If you find yourself second guessing what to order, then simply pull the trigger on the Frank E burger, or the Nihilist if you like it HOT!

The Frank E Burger is a masterpiece topped with caramelized onions, fontinella cheese, and applewood bacon. It’s simple, yet sophisticated when it comes to flavor. They also have a black bean burger for all of the non meat-eaters out there.

Z Pub & Diner, Chippewa

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If you’re asking yourself where and what on earth is a Z Pub, much like I did before landing here on my burger adventure, then either you’re Encino Man, or you don’t travel to the Northern part of Beaver County nearly enough, like myself. Some of the best joints to get a great burger are off the beaten path. You hear about it from a friend — and one day you stumble upon it after a trip to the DMV.

I hear all of the food at the Z pub is delicious — however, I can only speak on behalf of the burger. How do I put it? The only way I know how — the burger at the Z pub is Bangin’.

On my visit, I decided to go with the Z burger. I dressed my burger in a simple fashion to see what all the hype was about. Lettuce, tomato, onion, and pepper jack cheese. I obviously added bacon, because that’s how I roll. All categories scored a TEN to sum up an all around great burger, I’m thankful to have met.

Palms Brazilian Steakhouse, Hopewell

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When most people hear Palms Brazilian Steakhouse, they think: all-you-can-eat meat. You probably should, because they do offer a gaucho service 6 days a week. They also have a full menu — and on this menu is a burger for the ages. A burger to write home about.

The meaty goodness at the Palms starts with a mix of filet, strip, and sirloin that’s ground in-house. And you can taste the quality with every bite.

The burger I go with is known as the Gaucho Burger. Standing proud at 8 ounces cooked to order, with ham, bacon, tangy bbq sauce, and your choice of cheese. Does it seem like too much meat? Not at all! We are talking about a Brazilian Steakhouse. And before I forget to mention, they offer Ghost Pepper Cheese.

Bridgetown Taphouse, Ambridge

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When I think of Ambridge, I think of great pizza, hot roast beef, and old economy village. For whatever reason, it’s what comes to mind. Now I can’t help but hype-up a new gastro pub with good beer and delicious grub.

Located in the 900 block of Merchant Street in Ambridge, sits Bridgetown Taphouse. A new place with a nice atmosphere, a nice selection of craft beer, and a noteworthy burger. Like all selections on this list, the burgers at the Taphouse are flawless when it comes to the good beef and good bun ratio.

I’m a yinzer when it comes to slaw between bread, so it’s a no brainer for me when ordering. This Pittsburgh variation is a great combination of slaw, fried egg, capicola, and provolone cheese. A winner in my book.

I’m already planning my next visit and the homework is already done. The Bridgetown Burger it is: Bacon, fried egg, green chile, muenster, sautéed onion, and their in house burger sauce. The taphouse is a great addition to our area.

Call me a burger-nerd — call me whatever you want. I don’t care — just don’t call me after all the burgers are gone.