UPDATE: The first three rounds of voting have closed. Time to vote for which of the two final burgers will be the champion!

We live in a city with a lot of good burgers. Hell, we live in a city with a lot of great burgers. But which is best? It's an age-old debate, but we're going to solve it once and for all (or at least until someone comes up with a better best burger). And we need your help.

We've pitted 16 of the city's best burgers against one another, tournament-style, and asked a panel of burger-loving judges to help us decide the best burger in Los Angeles. We started with four categories: fast food, L.A. originals, new-school and fancy. The first round will see head-to-head battles between burgers with similar aims. As we get closer to the final round, we'll see match-ups that pit our best fast-food burgers against our best L.A.-specific originals, and so on. 

The hardest part of all this was picking the 16 contenders. We asked your opinion and consulted with our judges and came up with this list. There are some burgers we wish could have made the cut but didn't, not for lack of quality but because it's such a crowded field, and because we attempted to balance the bracket to account for different styles. Here now is the L.A. Weekly ultimate burger bracket:
We'd like your input as well. Each round, we're asking both judges and readers to pick the winners of each bout. Fill out the form below by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 19, to let us know your round-one choices.

Over the next couple of weeks, leading up to our burgers-and-beer–themed Food Issue — and our first-ever Burgers & Beer festival on Aug. 8 — we'll be revealing the winners of the previous round and asking you to vote in the following round. The reader who makes all the same choices as our judges will win a VIP experience at the Burgers & Beer fest. That means VIP tickets but also some other special perks. 

The public vote ought to also add some fun to the proceedings. What will be the people's choice winner in each round? Will the public have the same opinion as our esteemed judges? 

Speaking of judges, let's introduce them:

Besha Rodell (that's me!), L.A. Weekly restaurant critic.

Mara Shalhoup, L.A. Weekly editor in chief.

Farley Elliott, Eater L.A. senior editor, author of Los Angeles Street Food and all-round burger expert.  

Garrett Snyder: L.A. Weekly contributor.

Kevin Bludso: Owner of Bludso's BBQ.

Zack Brooks: Midtown Lunch blogger and Food Is the New Rock podcaster.

Hillel Aron, L.A. Weekly staff writer and burger obsessive.

Gillian Ferguson: Supervising producer of KCRW's Good Food.

The winner of the tournament, as well as the winner of our contest, will be revealed in our Food Issue, which will be on stands Aug. 6. Watch for round-one winners and a chance to vote in round two next week, right here. (UPDATE: The round-one winners have been revealed! Time to vote for which burger will be crowned the champion!)

Hungry for more food coverage? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. You can also follow Besha on Twitter and on Instagram.

LA Weekly