South Beach — the mecca of strange, overpriced cocktails; glittery, drug-fueled dance parties; and pretentiously hip restaurants — has spawned a surprisingly down-to-earth burger spot in Pembroke Pines.
The buzzy Burger and Beer Joint, with South Beach and Brickell restaurants, has opened a location at Hiatus Road and Pines Boulevard, an up-and-coming corner of Pembroke Pines that has recently lured several high-quality, small casual food chains such as VooDoo BBQ and 100 Montaditos.
The vibe here has some of the best aspects of Miami Beach, with a young, upbeat staff, plenty of music, an inviting open kitchen and an interior with the right amount of scarlet paint, metal and polish to make the place look enticing but casual. Besides the main dining room, there is a quieter room to the right side, where half of the large bar resides. There is also plenty of outside seating, made cool by a pair of enormous (and I quote from their labels) “Big Ass Fans,” which look like they belong on the wings of a small plane. With at least a dozen large TVs throughout the restaurant, the place is decent for catching a game, though it has a different vibe than, say, Duffy’s or the Ale House.
While the prices are a bit on the high side for casual food, the portions are, too. Just because burgers are the prime feature here doesn’t mean you should overlook the above-average appetizers.
Start with a plate of beer-battered onion rings ($7), featuring jaw-busting slices of onion so large Xena the Warrior Princess would be as quick to throw them at an enemy as to take a bite. While the rings come with a jalapeno-cheddar sauce, browse the list of 15 sauces for an alternative you may enjoy more, such as chipotle ketchup, cilantro sour cream and bourbon barbecue.
A plate of 10 “Octane” chicken wings ($10) comes barbecued or with three degrees of spiciness. We opted for the barbecue and got deliciously tender wings with a thick, smoky sweet sauce in just the right amounts. Chili fries ($9) with cheddar and sour cream are decent, with a tomatoey chili on a heap of slender fries and a dollop of sour cream.
If there’s one appetizer not to miss here, it’s the “Mac Daddy” mac and cheese ($7). It impressed me with a simple preparation and an expertly browned bread crumb coating.
As you move farther down the menu, you’ll find a sentence that’s like balm to burger purists: “All beef served MEDIUM RARE unless otherwise requested.” That’s right, folks, unlike other spots that make a big deal about their burgers and then won’t serve them below medium or even medium well, Burger and Beer Joint actively encourages you to eat a burger with a nice, pink center.
The acid test for me at a new burger spot is to eschew the exotic toppings some restaurants use to differentiate themselves, while often hiding the mediocre meat underneath. So I asked for a simple, unfussy half-pound Angus beef burger on a brioche and Swiss ($10.50, no sides). The result was a juicy, delectable burger. With one bite, Burger and Beer Joint earned a spot among my most beloved burger restaurants.
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