Piled high with a juicy patty, smoked bacon and barbecue sauce, the Buckeye Beer Engine burger ($8.75) is messy to eat. But it's worth it once you hit the delicious heap of blue cheese slaw that delivers a tangy, crisp punch. 15315 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-2337, buckeyebeerengine.com
Blue Moon Burger
The Cedar Lee Pub and Grill's description of this burger ($7.99) might be a little deceiving. While it comes with Swiss cheese, the blue cheese slaw is actually just cole slaw with crumbled blue cheese on top. But the chunks of cheese work. 2191 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-371-1713
The Edge: The Hippie Burger takes the win. Although it has a lot of ingredients, they all work together for a complex, tasty burger.
A fancy-fry heavyweight, Bier Markt's ($7, small) had been the only fries we craved. The flavor is savory after cooking in duck fat and settling into a cone with garlic, sea salt and rosemary (which can sometimes be too strong). The curry and red pepper sauces on the side are nice, but the aioli is the best around (it's the black-flecked one). 1948 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-274-1010, bier-markt.com
They don't have a fancy French name, but the Tavern Co.'s fries ($4, side) — which are freshly cut, blanched, and seasoned with chopped parsley and thyme — have a fresh, memorable flavor on their own. Dip them in the sauce, and you have a one-two punch from two beloved fry condiments, mayo and malt vinegar, in one little cup. 2260 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-321-6001, thetaverncompany.com
The Edge: We can't get enough of either, but this is a David and Goliath story, and Tavern Co. changed our flavored mayo of choice from garlic to malt vinegar.