Best Of 2003

Best Burger (Non-Beef Division): Roasted Portobello Mushroom and Provolone

Consider for a moment just what makes a burger a burger. We all know that modern times no longer mandate meat in the middle, but what else? Must it come on a bun? Is a palate-pleasing pairing with ketchup required? Or is a burger more than the sum of its edible parts? Is it, really, the aura surrounding the thing, the mouth-watering, ravenous interaction between bread, filling, hands and gullet? This Soulard Coffee Garden Café grilled sandwich may not technically rank as a cheeseburger, but it unquestionably possesses burger chi: hefty, juicy slabs of portobello mushroom, flavor-packed roasted tomatoes and mild yet pungent provolone, all smushed together between two slices of honey wheat that are crisp on the outside, just a smidge soaked-through on the inside. The lip-smacking factor hits the roof. And while it may not come with fries (side choices are fruit salad, chips, potato salad or greens, all of 'em good), you can go ahead and douse it with all the ketchup your hamburger heart desires.

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