by Cheryl Baehr
Take a poll on who serves the best burger in town, and you're likely to get one of two answers: O'Connell's Pub (4652 Shaw Avenue; 314-773-6600) or Blueberry Hill <em>(6504 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-727-4444). Whether this is true or not is matter of discussion in its own right, but conventional wisdom holds that these two St. Louis institutions are the places to go when a carnivorous craving hits. For this week's Thursday Throwdown, we're crowning the town's burger king.
This quintessential Irish pub located in the outskirts of the Hill has been the scene of many 3 a.m. shots of Jameson and probably just as many burgers. It's easy to see why it's a favorite. O'Connell's burger is unpretentiously served on a paper plate that's ringed with shamrocks and its initials. The burger itself is reminiscent of what Mom would cook if she were having a backyard barbecue: The patty is thick, crumbly, pink in the center (when ordered medium) and branded with grill marks. The char flavor from the grill permeates the sandwich which is dressed with sliced pickles and thick-cut white onion. The sesame-seed bun is grilled, and a slice of cheddar cheese melts over the top.
This St. Louis institution is almost as famous for its burgers as it is its music. Bite into the Loop bar and restaurant's signature burger, and its juices ooze all over the red and white paper serving boat. The char-kissed patty is simply seasoned with salt and pepper, served on a grilled sesame bun and garnished with lettuce, tomato and onion. Cheese aficionados have a love-hate relationship with Blueberry Hill's cheddar cheese: The soft, scoopable cheese melts like butter over the burger, making for a gooey burger experience.
It's no wonder that Blueberry Hill and O'Connell's Pub are equally referenced as the best burgers in town: They are almost mirror images of one another. This Throwdown comes down to two factors: juice and cheese. Blueberry Hill wins on both counts. Its burger has more ooze factor. Love it or hate it, there's no denying that the soft cheddar is a superior melter. While those who sate their burger craving at O'Connell's are in for a satisfying treat, the real burger thrill is found at Blueberry Hill.