Orlando Burger Battle

Orlando Burger Battle 2017

Alright, so this should be pretty fun. On September 23rd, we attended the Orlando Burger Battle at the Ace Cafe in downtown Orlando. The venue just opened back in May and has received some fantastic reviews both for its atmosphere and its damn-near nightly car and bike shows.

The Burger Battle was put together by the fine folks over at Orlando Magazine and a portion of the proceeds go to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. We’re going to go into a lot of detail on the Burger Battle, but first up let’s talk a little bit about this very cool venue.

The Ace Cafe is actually an offshoot of a legendary London roadside cafe. If you’d like to know more about the original location (and it is quite interesting), I’d recommend going straight to the source. The history section of their website is VERY well written with lots of pictures and it would be insulting for me to try to condense it all down into like two sentences.

But if you’re lazy and want to just get the two sentence Cliff Notes version, here we go: The original Ace Cafe opened in 1938 as a transport cafe for truck drivers. It ended up becoming an icon to English bikers, creating a sort of counterculture to the pre-existing counterculture. I’d tell you more, but I did limit it to two sentences, so that’s all you’re getting.

There are a LOT of vehicles on display both inside and outside the building. I’ve never been the type to get all hyped up on a car, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Corvette makes me feel all funny. Kind of like when you climb the rope in gym class.

So what we have right now is considered “phase 1” of the Ace Cafe complex. Right now they have the restaurant space (with several bars and lounges), but there’s a lot more at play here.

A large section of the upstairs is a dedicated gallery, with dozens of beautiful vehicles on display.

I don’t know much about bikes, but I’m betting these are pretty damn swanky bikes.

Here’s a cross section of the dining area. On this particular day, the second level was reserved for people who had VIP Tickets for the Burger Battle.

And as luck had it, we had VIP tickets for the Burger Battle. VIP included access to the upstairs lounge area (including its own bar) and catering by Ace Cafe. It also included “butler service” and a swag bag, but we didn’t take advantage of either. It seemed ridiculous to send someone out to get us burgers. If you were in a large group, maybe that option would have made sense. Or maybe if you were just a lazy person. That would totally make sense.

The catering by Ace Cafe was actually quite nice, though ultimately one does question what the logic is of filling up on snacks before a burger competition. Seems to me like this is just irresponsible pre-gaming.

Yeah, call me irresponsible. The food from Ace Cafe was all quite good. I don’t know how this would compare to what you would get if you were ordering an entree from them – I mean, catering is a different animal – but if I was served a lot of this, I would be pretty damn pleased. The pulled pork taco was flavorful and well made, while the cheesy empanada only made me want to eat more empanadas. We didn’t get a picture of it, but I also tried one of their fish tacos, and it was outstanding.

This is a truly awful picture of their meat loaf, but believe me when I say that it was some damn nice meat loaf. I assume this was a small slice of their “Bat Outta Hell Meatloaf.” When you order it as an entree, it’s served with tomato bacon jam on top of it. Unfortunately, I think this was just a run-of-the-mill marinara sauce. It was still quite tasty, but I want to try that tomato bacon jam!

There was also a coffee bar set up, but I don’t believe I ever saw anyone with coffee. I mean, the booze was free, folks.

Well, it looks like everyone is set up and the burgers are coming up. It’s almost time for us to get down there and get our hands dirty.

As mentioned before, the event was put on by Orlando Magazine benefiting the Second Harvest Food Bank. I was a little cranky about the fact that promo codes started popping up like crazy right after we bought our tickets, but knowing that it was all benefiting a local charity made me feel better about it. That said, we’ll be waiting a bit for that promo code next time!

They even had a band out there. As you can imagine, Liverpool Live performed all your favorite songs by the Rolling Stones.

Of course that’s a joke. They didn’t play any Rolling Stones. They just played “Hey Bulldog” over and over again.

Alright, let’s do this thing!