Food column: Pittsburgh's best burger joints to vie for top honors at SouthSide Works

Twelve local restaurants will compete to be named the ‘Burgh’s best burger maker at the Pittsburgher Burger Bash & Chef Competition.

This is the first year the event will be held at SouthSide Works. It’s expected to draw 2,000 to 3,000 people between 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday.

Pittsburgh food critics and celebrity judges, including WQED-TV’s Rick Sebak, will determine the first- through third-place winners, and the crowd also can vote on a “people’s choice” winner.

Two restaurants from last year’s competition are returning: Bill’s Bar & Burger and Twelve Whiskey Barbecue (formerly known as Twelve on Carson). New competitors are CB3 at Casey’s Draft House, Claddagh Irish Pub, Day La Soul Catering, Hilton Garden Inn University Place, Nox’s Tavern & Grille, Pig Iron Public House, Pittsburgh Smokehouse, Table 86 by Hines Ward, The Fire Side Public House and The Summit.

Restaurants have free rein to develop burgers using any meats, cooking methods and toppings they choose. Attendees get a burger pass they can take around to all the vendors to claim their samples, plus a ballot for the people’s choice vote. Most restaurants give each attendee a quarter-cut of a burger, although some restaurants make sliders instead.

If the restaurant wants to bring along a side dish to complement the burgers or showcase a house specialty, they’re permitted to sell it separately, but attendees’ ticket price covers only the burger samples and adult beverages.

Not that that’s anything to sneeze at. Twelve quarter-burgers is “a lot of food,” organizer Jennifer Petrini said. “You have to like meat.”

Tickets also go toward discounts on Blue Moon and Ketel One cocktails plus raffle chances. There will be live music, too.

Organizer Diana Rua Media has named two charities as beneficiaries: Biggie’s Bullies, a Pit Bull rescue organization, and Girl’s Hope of Pittsburgh, a home providing a quality education and support for at-risk girls from ages 10 to 18.

Tickets at the door are $40 for general admission or $50 with a T-shirt included. Tickets also are available online, with some specials available.

Information and tickets:

Wine release

2014 Napa Cabernet Release & Barrel Tasting: Join Hines Ward in person at his Vines By Hines Ward Wine Bar for two tastings that include hors d’oeuvers and a free bottle of wine with each pair of tickets. $75 per ticket. Half of the proceeds go to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. Tastings at 4 and 6:30 p.m. at  526 Northpointe Circle, Seven Fields, Butler County.


Little Italy Days: Italian food, Little Miss Italy Pageant, celebrity bocce, “Italian Idol” singing competition, live entertainment, Italian cooking demos and more. 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday; noon to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday in Bloomfield.

Hop Fest and Beer De-Brew: Each attendee gets a hopped whiskey cocktail, hopped whiskey samples, and a local beer tasting and Wigle spirits pairing flight; food truck also on site. 6 p.m. Friday at Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse, North Side. $15.

Laurel Highlands Garlic Festival: Workshops, speakers, vendors, cooking competition, live entertainment. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Faranda Farm in Hollsopple, Somerset County.

Seven Springs Wine Festival: Samples available from 30 wineries, seminars, live entertainment, craft vendors. 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 26; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 27-28 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. $24-$42.

Red, Ripe and Roasted: Cooking demos (including one by PG food writer Miriam Rubin), tomato contest, kids’ activities, local produce vendors and more. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 28 at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Oakland. Free; donate a bag of produce for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and get free admission to the Phipps flower show.

Charitable events

Dennis A. Anzio Memorial Steak Fry: Steaks grilled to order, corn on the cob, salad, baked beans and Bruster’s ice cream, plus live music, raffles and door prizes. 5 p.m. Aug. 24 at Brady’s Run Lodge, Beaver Falls. $25; reservations required. 724-728-4948;

412 Food Rescue Benefit Dinner: Ten of Pittsburgh’s best female chefs will create an eight-course dinner to benefit a nonprofit focused on reducing food waste. Participating chefs will come from Spoon, Legume, Sweet Peaches, Smallman Galley, E2 and more. 6 to 10 p.m. Aug. 28 at Luxe Creative, North Point Breeze. $170. For tickets, go to and search on “412 Food Rescue.”


Date Night Dining: Learn recipes from Tuscany in a hands-on class, then enjoy the dishes during a romantic meal with your date. Menu includes bruschetta, homemade potato gnocchi, panzanella salad, chicken saltimbocca, risotto and panna cotta. 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at The Kitchen By Vangura in North Huntingdon. $175 per couple.

Out of town

From Pittsburgh With Love: Tiki bars in Cleveland and Pittsburgh will suspend the cities’ usual rivalry for a pop-up event on Monday. Pittsburgh’s Hidden Harbor will prepare elaborately garnished contemporary tiki cocktails at Cleveland’s Porco, which will supply tropical drinks and food.

Rebecca Sodergren: or on Twitter @pgfoodevents.


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