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The Porch vs Burguesa: Burger Bash

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We're not just comparing any burgers here, but the monstrous La Monumental at Burguesa and The Porch's equally hefty Stodg.

The first is a much-hyped stack consisting of two beef patties, a special sauce, lettuce, cheese--and then more cheese, ham, refried beans, tostada, chunks of avocado, some onions and tomato, all dripping from a bun. Really, it was a demented soul that decided to serve this beast from a take-away stand. And now that they've added a few roadside picnic tables, you still need to order a cup of water so you can wash your hands after lunch.

Order the Stodg and you receive a single thick patty supported by lettuce, tomato, onion and...oh, yeah--applewood smoked bacon, aged cheddar and a fried egg. Instead of relying on secret sauce, line cooks at The Porch simply "butter" the bun with foie gras.

Why go to all these lengths to dress the simple burger? No one knows, really. But the key to winning any burger battle is something easily lost when you start piling the ingredients on: balance.

The Porch hasn't forgotten that fact. Despite the wealth of accoutrements, you taste a nicely charred burger in each bite. While the bacon throws in sharp and acrid bursts of great intensity, they last only a moment, and the lingering smoky residue complements the beef rather well. In the old days people used to pair fried eggs with steak, so the soft, oozing flavor seems familiar in this role. The foie gras, meanwhile, lurks with earthy undertones that again don't stray far from the main theme--which is, of course, the burger.

It's a well thought out combination with only two problem areas: the cheese congeals to the point of embarrassing stretchiness (at one point strands pulled for five inches without breaking) and the bun tends to melt into goo after awhile.

At least the cheese's flavor blends in neatly here, because in the La Monumental, cheese is one of the prime causes of the burger's demise.

Burguesa's two patties are compellingly warm and robust in flavor. Their sauce perks this sensation even more, launching prickly darts of heat under a tangy base. And the bun holds up brilliantly--good starts.

But the ham is too thin to contribute anything other than a nagging salt lick character. Surrounded by strong flavors, sizeable chunks of avocado become a mindless, mushy mess. The tostada seems pointless. And the only way to describe the cheese is...well, you'd have a better experience going to a 7-Eleven, placing your lips around the nacho cheese spigot and pressing the green button.

There's no interplay of flavors. The minds behind this overstuffed monster simply decided to pile things on.

Of course, if price is a consideration, Burguesa Burger wins out, undercutting the Stodg by $7 when ordered as part of the combo (more when ordered alone). But we're judging on overall satisfaction--flavor, balance and the ability to wash your hands afterwards.

Despite a few problems, the Stodg is crafted with a balance of flavors in mind. It wins easily.

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