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Tournament of Burgers highlights

A mid-tournament recap of the South Sound burger battles

Eastside Big Tom beat NetShed #9 in the Sweet Pickle 16 and faces another burger joint in the Great Eight April 3. Photo credit: Winter Teems

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Since March 20, the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Burgers has been in high gear, starting with a packed and delicious field of 64 area burger joints, and slowly but surely whittling it down through daily, heated competitions on our blog, Walkie Talkie. The burger places in the field of 64 were selected and seeded by readers, who, you guessed it, voted throughout February.

It's all in the model of March Madness, of course - only far tastier and with a lot more mustard.

Much like this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament, our Tournament of Burgers has been full of buzzer beaters, shocking upsets and Cinderella stories. With competition continuing through Monday, April 7 - when our Tournament of Burgers Champion will be crowned at an official Tournament of Burgers Party at Meconi's Pub in downtown Tacoma during halftime of the NCAA championship game - anything is still possible.

Who will win it all? Who will hoist the burger bag in triumph?

That's why they play the game.

Here's a recap of some of the best action so far at, sponosred by Ricky J's Restaurant and Lounge in Puyallup.


Bootlegger's Bar & Grill vs. Eagon's Westside Drive-Inn

Bootlegger's opened its first Tournament of Burgers with a romp against Olympia burger shack Eagon's in First Round action. Grabbing 63 percent of the votes, the Buckley burger king dominated the griddle for much of the game, only letting up a little when a herd of elk outside distracted the cook.


Lunchbox Laboratory vs. The Office Bar & Grill

The nice thing about a number one seed is it usually means you have a paddy-cake game the first round. Not so much the case March 24. The Office Bar and Grill rallied The Steno Pool and the folks in the mailroom, surging here and there. In the end, the number one seed did prevail, and Lunchbox Laboratory moved into the Second Round with 68 percent of the votes.

Powerhouse Restaurant and Brewery vs. El Gaucho

Powerhouse and El Gaucho battled back and forth all day, changing leads several times. Then, Powerhouse put the Jolly Pumpkin Artesianal Ales Maraciabo Especial Sour Belgian on the guest tap. Not so fast, my fancy friend. El Gaucho's lounge pianist busted out "It's The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and the whole restaurant laughed and clinked martini glasses. The Powerhouse moved into the Second Round with 51 percent of the votes.


Gourmet Burger Shop vs. Little Jerry's

"It's more like a full-body dry heave set to music." That's how George described the Elaine dance on TV show Seinfeld. March 25, the folks at Little Jerry's, the Seinfeld-loving café in Tacoma, probably busted out a few Elaine moves as it grabbed 52 percent of the vote over the Gourmet Burger Shop and danced its way into the Second Round.


Herfy's Lakewood vs. Herfy's Olympia

The Herfy's in Lakewood beat the Herfy's in Olympia with 78 percent of the vote. Somewhere there was a photo-realistic cow's face with a tear.


Alfred's Café vs. Twisted Kilt Irish Pub

Everyone loves a good comeback, and this may have been one of the better clutch performances in the (obviously short) history of the Tournament of Burgers. Down by a substantial margin at midday, Alfred's Café, was able to rally the troops at halftime, and by troops I mean the Port of Tacoma. By the time the final buzzer sounded the Puyallup Avenue, speakeasy-ish, often colorful characters loaded Alfred's walked away with an impressive victory, racking up 59 percent of the vote. Next up for Alfred's Café was a Second Round dogfight with Lefty's Burger Shack.

Han's Burger & Teriyaki vs. Frugals

Fruglas has been serving custom, workingman's burgers in Tacoma since 1990. Their experience showed during March 27's game against Han's. Ignoring the late-afternoon penalty Han's received for excessive catsup, Frugals' 66 percent of the vote victory came from the one-two punch of fresh mushrooms and a sesame seed bun. Sometimes, you have to go with what you know. Frugals moved into the Second Round for a March 31 game against number one seed Shake Shake Shake. Oh, baby!


Eastside Big Tom vs. Steel Creek American Whiskey Co.

Eastside Big Tom's was voted Best Burger recently in the Weekly Volcano's 2014 Best of Olympia issue. Home of the "goop," a delicious blend of mayo, mustard, pickle relish and secret salad dressing sauce, Eastside Big Tom is an Olympian favorite, and the whiskey-drinking cowgirls and cowboys at Steel Creek couldn't line dance fast enough. Eastside Big Tom grabbed 78 percent of the vote and moved into the Sweet Pickle 16.

Chalk Talk Bistro vs. Pick-Quick Drive-In

Everyone was, er, talking about the conversation of Mary's Burger Bistro into Chalk Talk Bistro. There have been theories written, of course written in chalk. It doesn't matter. Fife's longstanding, popular Pick-Quick Drive-In snapped all the chalk with 62 percent of the vote, and moved into the Sweet Pickle 16.


Asado vs. Marrow Kitchen + Bar

Tacoma is Asado, and the Commonwealth of X Group. Tacoma is Marrow, and the Republic of Jones. At 62.34 square miles, Tacoma is hardly big enough for the both gourmet burgers, and that included Saturday night in the Second Round.Asado vs. Marrow. Few sentences in Tournament of Burgers come with more buzz, especially in March. A half-hour after No. 1 seed Asado beat No. 8 seed Marrow by two points, Asado co-owner John Xitco stepped into the entrance of Asado. Chefs were texting family members, conducting interviews and watching themselves on YouTube when the familiar voice of Xitco cut through the joyous din. "You guys have a hell of burger," Xitco probably said, pausing for a moment. "You just beat the best. You should be proud." This game will be the enduring legacy of the Tournament of Burgers, etched in the record books as Asado 50.42%, Marrow 49.58% of the vote. Epic.


Lunchbox Laboratory vs. Powerhouse Restaurant & Brewery

Let's face it. It is more fun to drink shakes out of beakers, munch on a burger made of duck and pork (affectionately called the "dork"), or order cocktails made with Tang. Lunchbox Laboratory positions itself as a laboratory where amazing burgers are created and the customization options are endless. It's a winning formula, at least in terms of the Tournament of Burgers. Lunchbox Laboratory grabbed 59 percent of the votes over the Puyallup mainstay Powerhouse Restaurant, and nabbed a spot in the Sweet Pickle 16.

Little Jerry's vs. Mikie Burger

Mikie Burger has history and fans. For years the tiny mom-and-pop restaurant defied the odds, going head to head with nearby national franchises. Despite having no indoor seating and very little parking - despite eccentric hours and long waits - despite being literally overshadowed by new construction - the home of the Mikie Burger endured, until the summer of 2009. The Little Holland burger joint - which now bares a sign reading "Mikie Burgers" - officially reopened on Center Street Jan. 4, 2010. Little Jerry's knew it had to go big against the history and long list of burgers. The Seinfeld-crazed café pulled out The Mimbo. Remember Elaine's man-bimbo, Tony? Yes, Little Jerry's creates dishes from Seinfeld episodes. Yes, the burger sandwiched between grilled cheese sandwiches and topped with a fried egg put the hurt on Mikie. Little jerry's nabbed 64 percent of the vote and has made the Sweet Pickle 16.


Classics Café at LeMay vs. Crown Bar

These two Tacoma restaurants bounced buns off each other all day until around 4 p.m. when the Crown Bar began to pull away. Rumor has it the Crown Bar got behind their Cougar Gold Burger with its housemade pickles and pushed through Classics Café's wall of chili cheese tots, which protected their classic, hard-working cheeseburger. As the clock hit 11:45 p.m., the Crown Bar had 62 percent of the vote, and a spot in the Sweet Pickle 16.

THURSDAY, APRIL 3: Online voting  from 9 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. last eight South Sound burger joints standing at

FRIDAY, APRIL 4: Online voting from 9 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. for Final Four burger joints battle at

MONDAY, APRIL 7: Online voting for final two South Sound burger joints from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. At 6 p.m. the voting opens back up live at the Tournament of Burgers Final Party at Meconi's Pub, 709 Pacific Ave., in Tacoma. Ballots will be handed out, which will also serve as raffle tickets. Live vote will close at halftime of the NCAA Men's Tournament final and the South Sound Burger Champion will be announced. There will be much rejoicing.

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