By Joe Stout Special to The Pineapple I love cheeseburgers. Since I can remember, the cheeseburger has always been at the top of my favorite foods list, closely followed by pizza. In fact, when I was growing up, it was family tradition for the children to choose the meal for their birthday dinner. My sisters chose lobster and steak. Me? A cheeseburger. It reminds me of everything good in life: backyard cookouts, grilling at the beach, or my favorite bar with cold beer and good friends. There is much debate about what makes a burger great, and where to go to find the best one. Some folks love the traditional style of burger with a common bun, a single slab of beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and ketchup. Others prefer a more dynamic burg placed between exotic breads with unique toppings like avocado and fried eggs. For me, it all starts with quality ground chuck, cooked medium rare, please. From there, the variables can be all over the map. Sometimes, plain old American cheese is perfect, while other times I prefer real Switzerland Swiss, or Vermont cheddar. Sautéed onions, bacon, and horseradish sauce complete any burger. I even enjoy a fried egg from time to time. The Food Beat recently interviewed over two dozen people at a downtown Delray Beach networking event at SoLita, and we asked: Where do you go for a cheeseburger in Delray Beach, and why? The responses were varied, interesting, and damn perplexing. In all, everyone pretty much agrees a good cheeseburger should be an experience. So we decided to compile a list of burger nirvana in Delray Beach and categorize them into four different groups. The results are as follows: HALL OF FAME 1) Park Tavern: The burger is cooked the way you want it, significant in stature, offers great cheese choices, and has been dubbed “really delicious” by multiple people. Their fries also rank near the top. 2) DaDa: Its “Desi” burger, and it rocks with hickory smoked bacon and a very nontraditional bun. 3) Granger’s Grill is not to be trifled with. Don’t underestimate this little old gas station on north Federal Highway. The burgers are flat out delicious. 4) 3rd & 3rd: Also known as the AWOL burger. Although the restaurant and bar is closed for the summer, they’ll be reopening in September. THEY GOT GAME 1) HiWay Burger: It’s the east coast In and Out Burger and the burgers and fries are both fabulous 2) Johnny Brown’s: Ample and tasty with a side of rock and roll. 3) Zio’s: The little cheesesteak place makes a damn good burger. 4) Burger Fi: The runaway winner in our poll. People seem to love the lettuce bun. 5) Shula Burger: If you’re at Delray market Place and have a burger Jones, check it out. 6) La Bamba: I would not have believed it either, but seeing and tasting changed my mind. 7) Lindberger’s: We are told the vegetarian burger is fabulous. MORE OF THE SAME 1) Doc’s: Although very good, the reputation is grander than the burger 2) Duffy’s: Good, but not spectacular. 3) Bru’s Room: It will do when you’re watching the game. 4) Grand Tavern: Not so grand, in my opinion. KIND OF LAME 1) Wendy’s: Although the best of the fast food joints, it’s not exactly burger nirvana. 2) Steak and Shake: Yawn. 3) McDonald’s: When I have a hangover, their double cheeseburger is my fix. 4) Burger King: Way too many sesame seeds on the bun for my liking. And there you have it. The best (and worst) cheeseburgers in Delray Beach. Have a comment? Feel free to share your thoughts with us by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The more food news we have, the better. Cheers!