I’m just going to start out by saying I am a burger snob. After working at an amazing burger restaurant for almost three years now, I can tell a good quality burger when I eat one. When I was invited to try Burger 21, I was excited but somewhat skeptical. I went in with an open mind and an empty stomach and, spoiler alert, I came out very happy.
Burger 21 started in Florida, but has expanded to a few different states in the last few years. Obviously, their main focus is burgers, but they honestly have one of the most extensive menus that I’ve seen at a burger joint. They offer, you guessed it, 21 different burgers to choose from. This includes beef burgers, chicken burgers, turkey burgers, seafood burgers, and veggie burgers. They offer sliders, hot dogs, chicken tenders, fries, and milkshakes as well. With so many choices, it can be hard to narrow down which sounds best. Luckily for my boyfriend and I, we didn’t have to choose, as franchise owner Mitch Neal thoroughly spoiled us with some of the most popular options, as well as his favorites.
We started with trio basket of fries: regular, sweet potato, and onion strings. With your fries, you can serve yourself any of the 10 different dipping sauces that Burger 21 has to offer. Mitch brought us over the Marshmallow sauce, apple cider sauce, and thai ketchup. While all of these combinations were tasty, I have to say my absolute favorite was dipping the sweet potato fries in the Marshmallow sauce. The sauce was like nothing I’d every tasted; who would’ve thought a marshmallow aioli-type sauce would be good?!
Next he brought us out a few chicken tenders to try. The kid in me loves a good chicken tender, and these were definitely tasty, however if you’re going to come to Burger 21 I recommend their specialty: burgers. The first burgers we tried were the seafood burgers. The Spicy Thai Shrimp Burger ($8.49) had just the perfect amount of kick to it, and wasn’t overly spicy. The Ahi Tuna Burger ($10.49), Mitch’s favorite, was the most surprising to me. It is something I probably wouldn’t have ordered, but ended up loving! The sushi grade tuna was cooked medium rare, and I loved the Sriracha aioli and caramel soy that it was topped with. My boyfriend and I agreed that what we loved most about the seafood burgers was how light they felt compared to a typical beef burger.
Next we tried the Mediterranean Chicken Burger ($6.99), which is also one of the lighter options. While I’m not normally a huge fan of roasted red peppers, I think it went perfectly on this burger and added a really great sweetness to the dish. The final non-beef burger we tried was the Black Bean Burger ($7.49). The burger embraces the black beans and really goes with a southwestern theme, with toppings of salsa, avocado, cilantro cream, and tomato aioli. If you’re a vegetarian this is definitely a satisfying option for you, however it definitely has that black bean burger taste, so if you aren’t a fan of most black bean burgers, you probably won’t want to go for this one.
Finally, we moved on to the beef burgers. Burger 21 uses Angus Beef, but only the top two sections of the chuck. They leave out the bottom section, which tends to be chewy and lower quality. They have a 14-day slaughter to kitchen system, so you know your meat will always be fresh. The first we tried was the Tex-Mex Haystack Burger ($7.99), which was loaded with amazing toppings. I personally loved the chipotle-jalapeno sauce on this burger, and this was my boyfriend’s favorite out of all of them. Next we moved on to The Shroom Burger ($7.29). I love a good mushroom and Swiss burger, so this was one of my favorites. The juiciness of the mushrooms and caramelized onions made the already tender burger taste even juicier. The final burger we tried was this month’s special – The Bayou Burger ($7.99). This was a turkey burger made with Andouille sausage, and topped with grilled shrimp, Sriracha, remoulade sauces, on a bed of Ragin Cajun slaw. This burger was too spicy for my boyfriend, but I loved the unique flavor it brought to the table. We finished the meal off with a Salted Caramel Pretzel Shake ($4.49), which was nice and refreshing after consuming so much food.
Overall I had a great experience at Burger 21. The quality of the food really surprised me, and the plethora of choices means that everyone will find something there that they enjoy. Mitch also works with Fortnight Brewing to put on a beer and burger special once per month. During that special you can get a burger, regular size fry, side of cheese ale, and a Fortnight beer for only $11.99. So if you’re looking for a new burger spot with lots of unique options, I highly suggest giving Burger 21 a try.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to try certain products. This meal or items are usually comped, as these was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.
Melissa Guido is currently a dietetic intern in the Triangle area. She studied nutrition at NC State and Meredith College. Her favorite part about nutrition is showing people that healthy food can be exciting and delicious. Melissa loves traveling and learning about how food fits into different cultures. In her free time she loves trying new restaurants, cooking, and obsessing over her dogs. Follow her on Instagram @made2order and at www.madeorder.wordpress.com.