The Heavy Seas Brewery is the largest producer of cask beer in the United States, as Michael Symon found out on a visit to the company’s Baltimore alehouse. He had the honor of driving the tap into a cask of Heavy Seas 20th Anniversary Beer, an unfiltered ESB brew that’s bourbon-barrel-aged. Michael paired the drink with a beer-infused eclair. “Wow, I love this,” Michael said of the “beer-clair,” which features an ale-laced custard and a stout-spiked chocolate sauce.
At this artsy beer bar, the brews are paired with some of the freshest burgers around (the grass-fed meat is sourced from the owner’s nearby ranch). A highlight is the Hawaii Consolidated: Its cheese-smothered patty is finished with Canadian bacon, housemade teriyaki sauce and sweet pineapple jam.
This quaint shop is housed in a former fishing shanty in the historic village of Fishtown. In addition to its stellar cheese selection (60-plus varieties), this cozy spot is brimming with local specialty items (cherry products and more). It’s also a great place to pop into for sandwiches bursting with fresh ingredients. Opt for the pretzel bread and your sandwich will be built on a fluffy roll that actually does taste like a pretzel, as Michael Symon found out when he stopped by with Mario Batali.
The name of this barbecue spot is not only a nod to the local farmers of Michigan’s past, but also a tip of the hat to those of the present who provide the fresh produce, fruit and cheeses that get top billing alongside the burgers and ‘cue served here. For a standout meal, pair a hickory-smoked chicken with a Diabolical Ale from the North Peak Brewing Company, then follow it up with a hefty wedge of cherry cobbler bursting with bright fruit flavors.
Chef-Owner Johnny Shipley amps up the flavors of smoked meats at his Lexington, Ky., barbecue spot. Locals flock here for innovative dishes like the Smoked Fried Flank Steak Sandwich. Michael Symon raved about the “crunchy, smoky beef” that comes topped with a mound of kale greens and is served on a fluffy biscuit. A rich, smoky gravy made from sausage, roux and heavy cream completes the creation.
Calling them "porkapalooza," pork-obsessed Iron Chef Michael Symon loves the pork rinds at The Publican, aka its version of spicy Cheetos. But diners know them better as a great appetizer before feasting on the equally enticing porky entree, Edwards Country Ham.
Pitmaster Evan Leroy uses the smoker at Freedmen’s for just about anything, so ’cue lover Michael Symon just had to get a taste of creative dishes like the Barbecue Benedict. A buttermilk biscuit is piled high with tender, post oak-smoked brisket, fluffy poached eggs and a rich hollandaise sauce made from lemon juice, egg yolks, butter and smoked tomatoes (yes, even the tomatoes take a turn in the smoker here).
This spacious spot can fill up fast, particularly on the weekend, so snagging a table often means arriving on the early side. Patrons without a seat can mingle by the rustic-chic bar that stretches along one wall. Head here to order wine, cocktails and beer, including suds from local brewers like Long Island-based Montauk Brewing Co.
Thick, juicy patties and classic toppings add up to mouthwatering burgers at this old-school joint. The Bistro Burger stars a half-pound patty made from freshly ground sirloin and chuck. This beauty is topped with super-melty American cheese and maple-smoked bacon, then nestled in a sesame seed bun.
This cozy taproom offers a small selection of craft beers created at its nearby brewery in Grand Rapids. Michael Symon and Mario Batali tried all nine options on tap, including the Mitten Milk Stout. This brew contains nitrogen, which gives it smaller bubbles than those in a standard beer. The resulting stout is “thick, like a milkshake,” Michael explained. “It’s delicious!”
Korzo’s husband-and-wife duo stay true to their Eastern European roots by dishing up Slovak-inspired comfort foods like fried burgers. Try the Slav: a brisket-short rib patty that’s topped with beer-braised pork, sheep cheese and juniper berry-studded sauerkraut, then enveloped in Hungarian langos dough and fried. Or opt for the Original, which comes layered with cheese, crunchy pickles and homemade red mustard.
This classic tavern has been serving brews to Traverse City locals since Prohibition ended in 1933. In addition to the beer, crowds head here for the live music and mouthwatering menu items that include the popular Olive Burger. This creation starts with an 80/20 blend of ground chuck that’s handcrafted, then charbroiled sans seasoning. Next, the patty is smothered with sliced green olives, mayo and melted Swiss cheese before being placed in a toasted bun.
Duff's plate of barbecue could have been served in a galvanized bucket. As he says, The Salt Lick BBQ has it all, including pork ribs and sausage. The giant pit in the middle of the restaurant is what makes them special — it's also what makes the best beef ribs Bobby has ever had. As for Michael, he couldn’t get enough of the tender brisket and its “crispy, caramelized bark.”
Chef-Owner Jimmy Gibson describes his restaurant as a “house of carnivores,” so meat lover Michael Symon just had to try the Barge Bash Burger here. For the burger’s 8-ounce patty, Jimmy mixes a ground beef blend with plenty of butter (yes, butter) for added richness. The patty comes loaded with blue cheese and a spicy bacon-tomato jam that puts the burger “over the top,” according to Michael.
Hill Country brings the dry-rub style of central Texas to its Manhattan and Brooklyn locales, where meats are smoked daily using wood imported from the Lone Star State. Dig into moist brisket, smoked turkey and messy beef ribs — and don’t forget the sides (cheddar mac and cheese, collard greens, cucumber salad and more). Let the spirit of Texas move you with a bit of honky-tonk; just head downstairs to the restaurant’s Boot Bar to catch country bands performing on most nights.