With quite a few front runners knocked out in the last round, the Final Four had one battle that was exceedingly close and one that was a bit of a slaughter. See below for how each battle went down, who won according to both the judges and readers, and how to vote in the final round (for the chance to win tickets to our upcoming Burgers & Beer festival). Winners of the final matchup plus winners of the reader competition will be revealed in next week's burger-themed Food issue.
In-N-Out vs. Pie 'n Burger
Judge: Garrett Snyder, L.A. Weekly contributor
This is truly an epic matchup: The quintessential SoCal diner burger against the burger that took that concept, streamlined it for broad consumption and fed it to the masses. In the battle of burger spots with N in the middle of their names, our judge had this to say: “If any burger has the potential to upset the fast food powerhouse that is In-N-Out, it's probably Pie 'n Burger, a '60s-era Pasadena institution that trades in the sort of California nostalgia evoked by hand-spun milkshakes and paper-wrapped cheeseburgers. Of course, there are a lot of things to love about Pie 'n Burger's classic cheeseburger: the crunch of the extra toasty bun, the snap of the fresh lettuce, the meltingly soft grilled onions and the almost-black charred crust that forms on the patty as it's pressed onto the grill. As appealing as its cheeseburger looks sitting in front of you dripping pink dressing, however, Pie 'n Burger falls a few inches short of In-N-Out. At Pie 'n Burger your patty might be a tad overcooked and under-seasoned, slightly too much lettuce or other quibbling problems that arise from an out-of-whack topping ratio. These are not issues at In-N-Out, where each burger is a precisely calibrated construction of crunchy veggies, melted cheese and a seared juicy patty. Every. Damn. Time. If you factored in the antique decor, the charmingly surly waitresses and the house-baked pies, Pie 'n Burger might have an edge. But this contest is all about the burger, and in that realm In-N-Out is king.”
Reader's Choice: In-N-Out
The Oinkster vs. Petit Trois
Judge: Besha Rodell, L.A. Weekly Restaurant Critic
I was surprised the Oinkster made it this far in the competition, and yet I was pleasantly surprised by the joy of eating the hulking burger it provides. This is like that classic diner burger just bigger, messier, more gluttonous. And yet … once I was done and on my way, there was no burger lust lingering in my heart that would bring me back to the Oinkster burger, and I think that plenty of burgers that fell to Petit Trois along the way could beat the pants off of the Oinkster. Petit Trois, on the other hand, makes a burger that has haunted me continuously since I first tried it months ago. I remember the richness of the sauce and the smoosh of the bun, but mainly I remember the meaty tang of the beef. The best burger experience really is about carnivorism at its most primal, and for all its fanciness, Petit Trois gets you at that base level, the same way the best steak does. To be able to combine the glory of that kind of meat satisfaction with the fun of a burger is really hard to beat. And it certainly isn't going to be outdone by the Oinkster.
Winner: Petit Trois
Reader's Choice: The Oinkster
Up next: The Championship! See the updated bracket below (click on the tab in the upper righthand corner to expand the image) and, below that, vote in the next round for your chance to win tickets to our upcoming Burgers & Beer festival. Votes for the final round must be cast by 11:59 p.m. tomorrow, July 29.