Forget that Saturday's returning Boca Burger Battle will have 20 restaurants vying for meaty supremacy, and forget that steel-stomached eaters will compete to chow down the most frankfurters during Sunday's Hot Dog Fest. The real struggle this weekend lies inside your gut, expected to accommodate all this comfort food and toppings.
"Fans who come here are truly hardcore foodies. Really, they're animals," says Russell Spadaccini, the Boca Burger Battle organizer. "People love a challenge. It's the summertime, and it's not called a battle for nothing."
When the third annual battle unfolds at Boca Raton's Sanborn Square Park, 19 patty-peddling restaurants will vie for bragging rights and a juried "Best Grill Master" and "Alternative Grill Master" (best veggie burger) prizes. Guest judges include chef Ron Duprat of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” chef Rey De La Osa of Publix Aprons Cooking School, DJ Chanel of WMIA-FM 93.9 and others. Visitors can also pick their favorite burger in the Community Award category.
Competitors in the burger-off include Boca's Shake Shack, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boca Burger House and Red's Backwoods, with Broward representation from Deerfield Beach's Tucker Duke's Lunchbox and Fort Lauderdale's Bite Gastrotruck. Eaters can sample from 19 different burger stations, and indulge in French fries, onion rings, truffle mac 'n' cheese, gelato and fudge.
Five competitors will also compete in a slider-eating challenge, with burgers provided by Deerfield Beach's Lil' Ole Caboose. The winner collects a lifetime admission to any future Boca Burger Battle.
A food fight over another summertime staple will be waged at Hot Dog Fest at Mardi Gras Casino, a themed food truck roundup with a hot dog-eating contest. This year, 60 carnivores will consume as many dogs as possible within three minutes, and the first-place winner gets $500 and a wrestling belt. But what if there's a tie?
"Well, they'll just have to fight it out in a real wrestling match," organizer Sef Gonzalez, a.k.a. the Burger Beast, says with a laugh.
Gonzalez, whose Burger Beast blog is dedicated to the comfort food, says Hot Dog Fest slimmed down from three venues last year in Miami, Plantation and Jupiter to just one.
"The hot dog contest is a lot more intense. People put on their serious faces here," Gonzalez says. "It feels like hotdogopolis in Broward. More people came to my Plantation event, and there are more hot dog joints here."
Food truck offerings include Jersey Dawg’s “The Boss,” a deep-fried dog with chili and French fries; Kona Dog’s “Kona Dog,” a pig-in-a-blanket-style dog wrapped in Hawaiian sweet bread; and Main Stop Grill’s “Frita Dog,” served with chorizo, onions hash browns.
The Boca Burger Battle runs 7-10 p.m. Saturday at Sanborn Square Park (72 N. Federal Highway). $50, $150 for VIP, which begins at 6 p.m. 561-338-7594 or BocaBurgerBattle.com.
Hot Dog Fest runs noon-4 p.m. Sunday at Mardi Gras Casino (831 N. Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach). Free. $10 for 21-and-older hot dog-eating contest, and eaters must register with casino's Player's Club. TheHotDogFest.com.