Mick's Karma Burger
Mick's Karma Burger
Edwin Goei

Game of Burgers: Dominion of Diners, Third Round

In this third round in the Dominion of Diners, we are left with two very good competitors. Taylor called it exactly like I would have if I had judged round two. Whomever should ascend to the next round will fight on to what I assume will be the most difficult-to-judge and hard-won battles yet.

Mick's Karma Bar vs. Memphis

Memphis' Soul Burger
Memphis' Soul Burger
Edwin Goei

Now onto Memphis. Despite being a bonafide Southern food dive with fried okra and probably the best fried chicken plates I've ever had, Memphis truly does a great burger. I say that even though the burger I ate for this round tasted and looked nothing like the one I had during the first round. And I ate it at the same exact location--the original Memphis next to The Lab in Costa Mesa. 

The bun, which was nicely toasted near char last time was nearly untouched by heat this time around. And the field greens and errant pieces of mint I encountered under the bun of the first burger were non-existent now, replaced by lettuce and a few salad greens.

Whoever cooked this burger also had a lighter hand on sauce application. This time it was swiped on thinly, not glopped on, and by the time it came to the table, the bun had already fully absorbed the chipotle aioli. The onions had a thicker cut, and there was only one long slice of a pickle instead of two. The meat was exactly as it was last time. I asked for medium, but it was just a shade darker than that--closer to well. Though it was a good, greasy burger, I noted that the patty is of tighter-pack than Mick's, and thus a little firmer and a touch dryer in mouth feel.

But here's where it falters: The tomatoes, pickles, and red onion are now disembodied from the burger, served on the side...which would've been fine by me any other day, but not when I'm looking for the tiniest detail with which to take away points. 

To me, when it comes to burgers, anything served on the side, especially something as crucial as the tomato, pickles and onion, reads as a lack of confidence. Had I wanted to omit any of these items, I would've said so. This is, after all, not Korean ssam; this was a burger, and a good burger needn't ever to be assembled. 

I also believe that this may also be the reason why the burger fell apart 75% of the way in, which the first Memphis Burger I ate two weeks ago didn't do. Thus, with these factors in mind, I name Mick's Karma Bar's Karma Burger the victor of the Dominion of Diners. 

Though it wasn't part of my decision-making, it must be noted that there's a difference in cost between our two diner finalists. 

A Mick's Karma Burger combo, which includes thick and hot steak fries and a freshly mulled basil-strawberry lemonade, retails at $8.75. Mick's Karma Bar has very few inside seating and no wait staff. 

The Memphis Soul Burger, which includes your choice of thin-cut shoestring fries, onion straws or salad,  is $11, without drink or tip.  Memphis is a full-service restaurant and bar.

WINNER: Mick's Karma Bar


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