Pork and Beef Burgers at Tops

Combining The Best Of Both Worlds

After reading a blog review by Memphis Que, I decided to try the pork and beef burger at Tops. The barbecue chain is renowned for its burgers and its pork shoulder is legendary, so combining the two seemed very interesting. So on a day where I had time to kill, I stopped by my neighborhood Tops to get this burger concoction.

The burger that I decided to go with was the quarter-pound cheeseburger. To make it a well-rounded meal, I got it as a combo with fries and beans. In getting pork shoulder added to a burger, it has to be ordered in one ounce increments that cost forty-five cents each. With this being my first time, I only got an ounce of pork for my burger. In hindsight, I should have gotten at least two ounces, for the small amount of pork was overwhelmed by the ground beef. As it was, the pork shoulder served as a role player in contributing to the overall taste of the burger. For the most part, the perfectly seasoned ground beef dominated the burger's flavor. However, the tender pork added a smoky element that blended well with the rest of the burger. Although it was satisfying, I felt that a better pork-to-beef ratio could make this burger even better.

For my second go-around, I got the double cheeseburger that comes with two quarter-pound beef patties. For the pork shoulder portion of it, I got four ounces of meat which gave me a two-to-one beef-pork patio. Although I had a closer meat ratio, I still didn't get that true barbecue experience. Even though I was getting a better taste of the pork shoulder, it still felt like more of a cheeseburger. The seasoning of salt and pepper in the ground beef dominated the smoky flavor of the pork shoulder. For the hell of it, I removed one of the beef patties to see if it made a difference. While the balance between the pork and beef were even, I felt something was missing. It seems that the pork shoulder wasn't as smoky as I felt it should have been (I talk about this in more detail in my other review of Tops). At that point, I decided to put some of Tops' mild barbecue sauce on the burger. This made a huge difference, for the tanginess of the sauce bolstered both the pork shoulder and ground beef. The end result was a well balanced marriage of barbecue and burger that I really enjoyed. After taking a few bites, I inserted the second beef patty back into the cheeseburger. Even with two beef patties, the barbecue sauce remained prominent in the burger. In all, it turned out to be a great cheeseburger that I have no regrets about ordering.

UPDATE: I recently (February 10, 2014) had another one of these, a half-and-half pork/beef ½ lb. cheeseburgers. Last the previous ones, it was damn good!

The sides I had were decent. The slightly salty and mildly crispy fries didn't have a lot of zing. The beans had a strong vinegar flavor that complemented the cheeseburger. The coleslaw (which I got with the second burger) had a creamy mix of mustard, mayo and the usual veggies that was thick yet crunchy. Although the sides are decent by themselves, they are great companions to an excellent burger.

Overall, I like the pork and beef burger concept of Tops. My only criticism is that the barbecue chain doesn't promote it. Because of this, a lot of people are missing out on something great. Hopefully word-of-mouth will change that, for it would be a shame if the pork and beef burger remained in the shadows of Memphis cuisine. It deserves better.

Website: www.TopsBarBQ.com

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  1. I've heard this is the very best menu item to order at Tops! Hello from a newly-transplanted-to-Memphis blogger! :)