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Five burgers you just have to try

Who doesn’t love a big, juicy, savoury burger served with a bucket of fries and never-enough sauce, with a cold bevvie on the side? Nobody, that’s who!

 
We set out to see if we could find five awesome burgers to rave about and made a quick top-of-the-mind list of restaurants and cafés to start with. Then we bribed a mate (which wasn’t difficult!) to secret shop and report their findings. True, it’s not very scientific, and we suspect it’s just the tip of the iceberg lettuce, but this review is at least safe to forward to your work’s social committee, unlike that NSFW @eatlitfood guy on Instagram.
 
Fortunately for Rotorua diners, but unfortunately for our burger-loving sampler (who shall remain nameless), our sleuth didn’t have to go far to find delicious patties that were well dressed and heaped with tasty toppings.
 
In no particular order, here are the results.
 

Sobar

Our burger inspector used this Eat Streat restaurant as their date night destination, so it was happy days that both burgers they sampled here were loved. Surely that means another date night is on the cards, right?
 
The Sobar Beef was tasty with its traditional toppings plus gherkins and onion relish. The beef pattie was perfectly cooked and juicy. Classically great.
 
We have no specific idea what the Sobar Veg burger was made of but it didn’t matter. The veggie-based pattie topped with cheddar, panko-crumbed portobello mushrooms, onion relish, and aioli was a stunner, even to the non-vegetarian tester’s palate.
 
Both burgers were served on sesame buns, and at just $15 each, they’re the best value for money in this group. For another three bucks, the burgers are stacked on top of a sea of thick-cut fries, and bottles of all the sauces you love are brought to you in what looked like an old skool re-purposed milk bottle carrier.
 
By the way, have you ever noticed how we say ‘chips’ but menus say ‘fries’? Anyhoo, back to the important stuff.
 

Social Club

Of course, sometimes you just need a good ole fashioned Kiwi Burger, so when this happens, head to Social Club.
 
A massive, juicy beef pattie arrived topped with bacon, tomato, lettuce, melted cheddar cheese, beetroot and the quintessential egg, served on a corn-dusted bun. A finger-licking, chops-smacking, yummy burger. The burger’s served with a basket of thick fries, all for $25, and worth every kilojoule. 
 

Hello Stranger

The Low & Slow Brisket Burger at Hello Stranger café will leave you feeling like anything but a stranger.
 
The brioche bun and slow-cooked brisket is the only similarity to Social Club’s equivalent, but this one’s piled high with onion rings, greens, tomato, blue cheese, and mushroom sauce. It’s a hot mess to eat but so worth the sticky fingers and greasy chin. Served with a basket of crinkle-cut fries and tomato sauce, this deliciously hearty meal comes in at just under $24.
 

Okere Falls Store

We did say we weren’t following a certain order in presenting these burgers, but we kinda lied. We’ve saved the most creative burger for last.
 
Upon reopening after the Covid lockdown, Okere Falls Store started Thursday Burger Night where the chef chooses three different burgers to add to the regular burger selections (a couple of theirs are in the pic above). It’s been a huge hit and while our burger tester was waiting for his or her Chinese Smorgasboard – concocted of juicy sweet and sour slow-roast pork belly, pickled cucumber, tangy red slaw, crispy shallots, roast peanuts, and sriracha aioli – other diners were raving about theirs. Finally, the saucy burger arrived, exploding with flavours like a smashed savoury piñata.
 
Served on an earthy, minimalist wood board and accompanied by oven-baked wedges for $20, this treat was worth the wait for Thursday to roll around.
 

But wait, there's more

As we mentioned earlier, this is definitely not an exhaustive list as Rotorua has heaps of amazing cafés and restaurants serving amazing burgers and much more. We’re likely to send our secret shopper out again as soon as he or she comes out of his or her food coma.
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