Bettys and Burgers at Varga Bar

Burger Breakdown

Varga Bar - Map It!
Lancaster county aged cheddar, apple-wood smoked bacon, caramelized shallots, organic greens, heirloom tomatoes.
Included. Crispy, salty and plentiful.

Walking into Varga Bar is like walking into my own personal heaven: beer, pin-up babes and burgers. Also like most versions of heaven, they won't let me in: after spending 90 minutes waiting for a table during opening week, I abandoned all hope of gorging on kobe beef. It must have been one of those seven deadlies that did me in, although I cannot imagine which one.

Painter Alberto Vargas' pin-up style adorned 1940s' magazine covers and fighter planes alike, helping to define the style and the era, and his "Varga Girls" lend their name and likenesses to the Spruce Street bar. The interior looks like a crossbreed between '50s diner and '80s cocktail lounge. Vargas-styled girls adorn the ceiling and the walls, backless stools sit in front of the bar and the booths have dated upholstery designs, but the whole palette is dark and modern, with tabletops polished to a "do blow off me" shine. It's a chic update of a retro aesthetic that works without being kitschy or tacky. Naturally, it sticks out in the gayborhood like an unmanicured thumb.

The Burger: Speaking of gluttony, which I am absolutely not guilty of, Varga Bar's kobe burger is an exercise in sinning well. A kobe beef patty is slathered with Lancaster county aged cheddar, thick apple-wood smoked bacon, caramelized shallots, organic greens and heirloom tomatoes on a sesame seed bun (which, during our visit, was conspicuously seed-free). Executive chef R. Evan Turney, formerly of Valanni, appropriated the burger from his former haunt but made it a little more local and a little more Russ Meyer. Fun fact: that is the only Russ Meyer link on the Internet that won't get you fired or divorced.

Kobe burger at Varga Bar.

Kyle: There's a lot of pretension attached to kobe beef: you can't put toppings on it, you can 't order it well done, you can't look directly at it or it will vanish. The most amazing burgers I've ever had were kobe beef sliders at Company in Las Vegas, and those bad boys were covered in cheddar and deep fried, so it's evident I don't buy into the Order of the Sacred Burger. Adding ingredients to kobe doesn't offend me, but any such burger has a lot to live up to.

That being said, let's get this out of the way: Varga Bar's kobe beef burger is not as good as Company's. Varga Bar's burger is, however, one of the finest I've had since Burgerdelphia began. "Delicate" is the best way I can think to describe this meal. The patty is very lightly seasoned and extremely lean, allowing the distinct beef flavor to dominate the burger. Likewise, the heirloom tomatoes and shallots added subtle but noticeable flavors, exploding into juicy bits with each bite. Every facet of this burger is both fine and fresh, tasting entirely natural and free of any added flavors or cheap gimmicks. Outside of the burger, the excellent fries are firm and crunchy, and the pickles (made in-house) offer a sharp, tangy contrast to the sandwich.

The burger at Varga Bar feels like a little-known secret, and one that you should seek out soon. It's decadent and delicious, and fortunately, we don't care about gluttony here. The only sin in Burgerdelphia is vegetarianism. Score: 8/10.

Laurence: It was the evening of a sweltering day when we entered Varga Bar for dinner. We were immediately turned away (something about "pants are required"). When we returned later we sat in the far dim corner in the back to escape the heat, and the other patrons. It wasn't a day for a hearty meal. But with a burger as good as the kobe burger at Varga, there is no time or place when it isn't the right meal.

From the meat to the bacon, to the gooey cheese that stretched from mouth to sandwich after each bite, this burger was a winner. I'm a pushover for caramelized onions, so I was excited at the little curve ball Varga's chef threw when adding shallots. It's strong move. The flavor is a little more bright (still in the same range as onion) and it stands out and creates a fine blend with the other ingredients.

This is not the best burger I've ever had. It's not a 10. It's not the burger of my dreams but it is a burger I could settle down and marry, and if I do I'll be able to enjoy it sans-pants. Score: 8/10.



Kobe beef and scantily clad women are two great tastes that go great together. Incidentally, this burger is also awesome.

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