Although Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors of North Bergen, N.J., has been doing business in the New York City area since 1922, when grandfather Anthony LaFrieda opened a butcher shop in Brooklyn, it took the glamour of star chefs like Mario Batali using LaFrieda meats at his restaurants in the 1990s to begin the momentum to super meatdom. Then in 2004, star restaurateur Danny Meyer had LaFrieda make a custom blend for the burgers served at his Shake Shack, today a chain with more than 20 locations.
Now LaFrieda meats have found their way to Charlotte's thriving burger scene. Chef Joseph Huang, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., opened Bang Bang Burgers (2001 E. 7th St.; 704-375-4505; www.bangbangburgersclt.com) in Elizabeth in November 2013. On the roster is his popular Hangover Burger, with potato bacon hash, cheddar cheese, grilled onions, a fried egg and Bang Bang Sauce, a ketchup-mayo blend. New to his burgers, though, is the brioche bun, baked to Huang's specifications by chef Adam Spears at Local Loaf bakery in the Seventh Street Market.
In addition to throwing down the gauntlet for having the best burger in town, Huang has put his creative spin on the roster, which includes a locally sourced pork belly "burger," the Seoul burger with bacon-fried kimchi and bulgogi sauce, and for heat seekers, the TNT with fried jalapenos and wasabi cheddar. All is not meat, though: "burgers" on the list include a tempura portobello and a black bean option. On the starter list is cheeseburger egg rolls — fried wonton wrappers stuffed with the Bang Bang burger mix and oozing with American cheese.
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