Village Whiskey: Iron Man Will Steal Your Girlfriend and There's Nothing You Can Do About It

Burger Breakdown

Village Whiskey (Village Burger) - Map It!
$9.50
Tomato, sesame roll, house-made thousand island, Boston bibb, other toppings available at an extra cost.
$5 extra. Duck fat fries that will make you weep for two reasons: The taste and the fact that they're not included in the price.
8.5/10

We at Burgerdelphia believe in the quest for perfection. Apparently we share this vision with Jose Garces, who, according to Kyle, shall henceforth be referred to only as Iron Man. Garces' love of simple American food combines with his thirst for whiskey blends in a sonata of taste and class at the incredibly small Village Whiskey. The post-prohibition style cocktail bar is sleek and well decorated but does not feel like a theme-restaurant. It's just further proof that this man knows how to make awesome.

Since there are only a few tables and it's been heralded as “the best burger in Philadelphia” by more than a few recent publications, you'll likely be in for a wait. Don't lose hope. Go down the street and get a drink, then come back ready to eat when you receive the secret signal (a call to your cell phone). In summer, Village Whiskey offers outdoor seating, which helps reduce the wait and your proximity to other patrons. The interior is cozy, maybe too cozy if you, like me, find misanthropy to be more of a way of life than a temporary feeling. But even I can make an exception so that I may eat the Village Burger.

The Burger: Prepare, my children, for one of Iron Man's crowning achievements. The Village Burger is 8 oz. of the most ridiculously tender, buttery Angus beef you've ever eaten, sitting snuggly on a fresh sesame roll with delectable tomato and house-made thousand island. If you're smart, opt-in to some of the toppings. My picks: fried egg, bacon and caramelized onion. I know, I know, I am brilliant.

Photo of the burger at Village Whiskey

Laurence: I'm sure it is obvious that I have no bias at all toward this amazing burger, sent like mana from the heavenly brain of Iron Man. Truth is, I was turned on to Village Whiskey and the Village Burger sometime in the early winter and I've been back many times since. If it weren't for the quest to find an even better burger I'd be content to spend the rest of my burger-eating days there.

I've eaten the Village Burger with many topping permutations and have become quite enamored with the egg-bacon-onion combination. Sometimes when I take the first bite, I wish I could be a VW virgin again and have my mind blown by the taste I have come to love. I figure it's much like the experience of "chasing the dragon" that heroine addicts mention, but burgers don't make you lose weight and become a criminal. Although, I'd say the Village Burger is probably worth killing a heroine addict for.

But the real question: Is this the perfect burger? No. If the burger from Amada and the Village Burger had a burger-faced love child after sweet-hot romance on some kitchen counter, with boots scuffing the stainless steel cabinets, I do believe that would be the best burger on earth. As it stands, though close, I think we still have a good number of burgers to eat in The City That Hates You Back™ before we can give out the crown for sure. Score 9/10.

Burger with Blue Cheese at Village Whiskey

Kyle: When Iron Man Garces announced Village Whiskey in 2009, I couldn't have been more excited. Not just for the much-hyped Whiskey King burger, which I believe is meant to be worn as some sort of crown, but for the experience that its name promised. Imagine my disappointment during the restaurant's September-ish (see: October) opening when I realized that it was not, in fact, a village made entirely of whiskey. This, combined with my willingness to wait approximately zero seconds for a table, kept me out of the bar for the first six months of operations.

Drinks at Village WhiskeyIt's a shame I waited so long. Aside from making the third best Manhattan I've ever had, after Southwark's and my grandfather's, they produce a damn fine dead cow. The texture of the beef is the first thing that struck me: extremely soft, finely ground and very juicy, with a beautiful pink all the way through. Also, it's massive. Somehow, the 8 oz. here seems dauntingly large when compared to other places we've been. Since the burger's default toppings are limited to various forms of nothing, I opted to add bacon, blue cheese and caramelized onions, and would absolutely recommend the same combination again. The bacon, while not as thick and mind-blowing as what you'll find on Iron Man's other burger, was still strongly seasoned, and combined with the extremely rich blue cheese and almost liquified onions, produced a smokehouse of flavor that doesn't quite reach the peaks of Amada's burger but was exceptional nonetheless. As for the fries, all I can say is that everything should be fried in duck fat: potatoes, vegetables, small children, Buicks, other kinds of animal fat. There's literally nothing that wouldn't be improved by duck fat. The only knock on the whole meal was the very basic bun, which was unremarkable compared to the rest of the meal.

Duck Fat fries at Village WhiskeyDespite the buzz surrounding it, this is not Philly's best burger. It is excellent, and certainly one of the best, but it isn't perfect. The beef, the toppings, the fries and the seasoning are all superb, but I preferred everything at Amada just a bit more. That said, this burger should be a 9. So why isn't it? Mic check: The burger itself is a very reasonable $9.50, but what you get is completely bare-bones. Throw on the toppings I selected and the cost quickly jumps to $17; add an order of fries and you're looking at a $22 meal. Even without toppings, you're looking at $14.50 for a plain burger and fries. It's not outrageous nor is it the most expensive in the city, but when you enter Hamilton territory, you've really got to do something to justify that price, and I don't think Village Whiskey accomplishes that task. Score: 8/10.

Verdict: 

The burger is great as is but go for some of the toppings and don't miss out on the fries. Be prepared though, the price is likely going to top $20.

8.5
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