Scouting Cleveland's top burgers

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On Saturday nights, we dine. On Fridays, in contrast, we’re just as happy to hunker down at a neighborhood eatery, a plump, juicy burger in hand. Here are a few local joints that do ‘em up right. At Reddstone (261 West 76th Street, 216-651-6969), the lights are low, the music’s loud, and the plump, hand-formed Black & Blue Burger – freshly ground sirloin, topped with a thick layer of pancetta, sautéed mushrooms, gorgonzola, and Swiss -- offers about as much umami as one bun can hold. On the side, hand-cut fries, with sea salt and zesty “secret” seasonings. ... Bar Cento’s (1948 W. 25th St., 216-274-1010) burger is made with Ohio-raised beef, grilled to smoky perfection, then topped with Chimay Grand Cru (a semi-soft Belgian cheese, from the same Trappist monks who make the beer), and popped onto a hefty, tender potato-brioche bun. It’s great – but it still plays second fiddle to the fabulous Belgian-style frites, double fried in duck fat for extraordinary crunch, and served with homemade mayo, for dipping. What do you get when you top a juicy Black Angus beef patty with crisply fried coppa, a glistening fried egg, and a “secret” homemade sauce, containing hints of hot peppers, Thai fish sauce, garlic, vinegar, and more? No, “a heart attack” is not the answer. It’s the indecently delicious Touch Burger, a rich, robust, dribble-down-your-chin delight. You say your diet needs just a bit more salt and fat? In that case, dig into the golden twice-fried Belgian frites. Find them at Touch Supper Club, 2710 Lorain Ave.; 216-631-5200. Finally, check out the bison burger at Gateway’s Harry Buffalo (2120 E. 4th St., 216-621-8887). Lean, yet remarkably tender, this half-pound patty is a double-fisted treat, with a fresh-from-the-grill aroma and a vaguely sweet taste, punctuated by the dense, delightfully chewy pretzel-bread bun. For a tasty twist on the usual spuds, go with the sweet-potato wafer fries, instead. And make sure you schedule time for a walk on Sunday morning. – Elaine T. Cicora

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