AMES, IOWA – “Pinch me.” That’s the first thought Jason Mikkelsen had when he learned that his restaurant, Brick City Grill in Ames, was this year’s winner of Iowa’s Best Burger contest. “I’m in shock that we accomplished this so soon.”
Brick City Grill is a first time entrant in the state-wide contest. Mikkelsen opened it just a year ago, bringing to the restaurant 18 years of experience in the restaurant business and ideas that he had gleaned and catalogued over that time.
So, what’s the secret to making Iowa’s Best Burger? Mikkelsen says he lets the beef do the talking. He uses a proprietary chuck blend, ground on order and delivered fresh to the restaurant. There, it is hand-pattied and flat-top grilled on order with only salt and pepper added. “The flat top sears the burger and lets it cook in its own juices so you get a juicier burger that way,” he said. “You can put all the toppings on it, but you are still going to taste the beef.”
Although the menu at Brick City Grill is varied, beef takes center stage, with eight varieties of hamburgers, priced $7.99 to $12.99 with a side. You will find also find a beef selection included in everything from appetizers to salads to all-beef hotdogs to entrees. “I’m a beef guy,” Mikkelsen said, noting he’s more likely to put a steak on the grill at home than other protein options.
This is the fifth year that the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council have teamed up to sponsor Iowa’s Best Burger contest. Iowans submitted more than 9,600 nomination votes for 456 restaurants in February and March that selected the Top Ten restaurants. The Top Ten were then independently visited and judged based on the hamburger’s taste, appearance, and proper serving temperature (160 degrees).
Other restaurants that made the Top Ten with Brick City Grill are (alphabetically): Ankeny Diner, Ankeny; Big City Burgers & Greens, Des Moines; Elm’s Club, Creston; Ferg’s My Tighe’s, Grand Junction; First Street Grille, Keosauqua; Rides Bar & Grill, Fort Dodge; Sam’s Sodas and Sandwiches, Carroll; The Ritz, Arnold’s Park; and Zombie Burger, Des Moines.