CoVa Battle of the Burgers - Peninsula Recap

On Saturday, May 4, Coastal Virginia Magazine hosted the inaugural CoVa Battle of the Burgers – Peninsula at Mill Point Park in Hampton. For the first time, a winner was declared Coastal Virginia’s best burger on the Peninsula as hundreds showed up ready to eat and drink.

Restaurants from Hampton, Newport News and Williamsburg served scaled-down version of some of their best burgers for the judges and attendees. The judges picked their favorite, while each guest received a gold coin to cast their vote for the People’s Choice best burger.

Contending for Best Burger were: Amber Ox Public House, Brown Chicken Brown Cow, Bubba N Franks, Burger Theory, Sage Kitchen Newport News, Stillwater Tavern and Viking Burger.

The sliders were each paired with a local beer or cider. Those who purchased beer tickets received a silver coin to vote for the best beer.

Big Ugly Brewing, Buskey Hard Cider, Capstan Bar Brewing Co., Hardywood, MoMac Brewing Co., Sly Clyde Ciderworks, Virginia Beer Co. and Wasserhund were filling up the souvenir glasses with tastings and full pours.

Earning both the judge’s vote and mine for best burger was Sage Kitchen’s It’s Pasture Your Bedtime Burger. Served with a pickleback shot (a combination of pickle juice and Jameson), this burger was instantly captivating.


The 80/20 patty was topped with a sunny side up quail egg and bacon, sandwiched between a homemade bun. I was advised from Sage Kitchen’s in-house baker to dunk the burger directly in the pickleback shot. The soft brioche bun was able to withstand the juice, creating a flavor bomb with each bite.

However, the competition attendees had a different burger in mind for the People’s Choice award. The Labor of Love burger from Amber Ox was crowned the winner. This towering, double patty burger also featured butter pickles, a sweet red onion marmalade, Amber Ox sauce and a house-cured, pastrami style duck breast bacon. The mere phrase “duck breast pastrami bacon” threw me off, but the taste was phenomenal.

As the winner, Amber Ox will be on the cover of next year’s March/April issue of Coastal Virginia Magazine.

Amber Ox’s beer pairing, the Surf Hopper from Sly Clyde, received the most votes for best beer. The off-dry Lemondrop hops cider was the perfect citrus sip to complement Amber Ox’s sweet and savory burger.

Much like at the CoVa Battle of the Burgers – Southside, I was drawn to Suncrush and Buskey when it came time to wet my whistle. It was an especially hot day so I definitely loved a cold, refreshing beer and cider.

If you weren’t able to attend the event, you can still visit these restaurants to try the full-sized version of each of these burgers.

Click here to read more about the burgers that competed in the CoVa Battle of the Burgers - Peninsula.