Over the last few years, The Next Act has gone from an underground actors’ hangout to a bustling pub populated by anyone with an appreciation for a quality beer selection and anatmosphere separate from the nightclub vibe of Old Strathcona proper. It’s also the home away from home for those who crave an astounding burger.
An easy go-to – and crowd favourite, according to manager Mike Angus – is The Critic, a sizable beef patty topped with smoked cheddar, caramelized onions, bacon and barbecue sauce, cradled in between two toasted burger buns. While the ample bacon flavour makes this burger impervious to its namesake, the list of consistently excellent burger options – such as the surprisingly addictive PB&J, topped with peanut butter and jelly, and the Class Act, with its signature creamy overeasy egg yolk – are what makes The Next Act this year’s burger champion.
Throw in the weekly Cameo Burger – a special burger that’s only around for a week – and, like a long-running theatrical production, patrons are in for something new with each culinary performance. –Cory Haller
If you’re looking for a good burger, the Sugarbowl is a great stop – as long as it’s not a beef burger you’re seeking. At this cozy brick-walled spot, you can choose between lamb, portobello mushroom and jerk chicken – a change of pace from the typical bacon cheeseburger.
At first glance, the lamb burger has a disconcerting goat cheese-to-patty ratio, but it ends up being a perfect balance. The free-run lamb patty is juicy, flawlessly complemented by the creamy cheese and caramelized onions. Even the condiments – including a rosemary aioli, rather than typical ketchup and mustard – are something special. Pair your burger with one of the Sugarbowl’s unique offerings on tap, and you have a delicious twist on the classic burger and beer. –Adrianna Szenthe
A good editor knows how to take credit for other people’s work. So I am going to pass off this statement as my own, and won’t admit that it came from Associate Editor Cory Haller: Jack’s Drive-In isn’t a 1950s-themed restaurant; it is a 1950s restaurant. The spot has been a Spruce Grove institution for more than 50 years. Inside the small red shack, you’ll see paintings of ’50s rock and pop-culture icons like Marilyn, Buddy and Elvis. And the oh-so-good Jack’s Special burger is reason enough to hope it goes for another 50. You’ll find a slice of ham plus melted cheese between the two patties, and the tangy sauce spills over the sides when you squeeze the bun. –Steven Sandor