Three years ago, restaurateur Michael Buchinski launched BRGR Stop in Coconut Creek for the same reason many gourmands open restaurants: He couldn’t find a place that served what he wanted.
Buchinski, a burger aficionado, would regularly schlep to B&B in Brickell for his nouveau patty fix. He hasn’t had to do that since opening the flagship BRGR Stop in a convenient location, right next door to his pizzeria, Bella’s. To expand the BRGR Stop brand, he partnered with his landlord, Mark Haig, who had high hopes for Buchinski’s craft-burger emporium: He wanted 10 BRGR Stops in five years.
Buchinski is one step closer to meeting that lofty goal. Last Friday marked the grand opening of the second BRGR Stop in Fort Lauderdale’s Gateway Plaza, a hop and a skip from U.S. 1 and the beach. I visited the restaurant, which Buchinski opened with partners Haig and Devin Cahow, for a media lunch during its soft opening and was instantly smitten with the décor, which was equally whimsical, edgy and bonkers, part of Buchinski’s desire to create an atmosphere “where art meets food.”
One of the first things you notice upon entry is an armored van—a 1968 Ford cargo van, to precise—abutting the hostess station, which served as its quasi-portable milkshake kitchen; the shakes, nostalgic blends like Little Debby Nutty Bar and Frootloop Marshmallow, were scrawled on its windshield. Instead of a podium or desk, the hostess stood behind a tower of beer kegs.
On the other side of the dining room, another automobile, a 1947 Ford cabover truck, bisects the bar area, as if its driver plowed through the restaurant’s rear and just left it there. Beer taps, many from South Florida breweries, emerge from its grille, as well as the space astride it. There’s something to see everywhere you look: The walls are painted with vibrant murals by local street artists, some 150 traffic signs line every available surface, and the ceiling’s decorations include a “spider”—a multi-legged metal sculpture with a refurbished motorcycle for a midsection, designed by the owners—and a massive American flag from a retired naval ship. There are also five flat-screens, but the eccentric immediate views are more interesting than whatever’s on them.
BRGR Stop’s menu is a sprawling selection of Buchinski’s mad-scientist experiments in what he calls “over-the-top food that nobody’s ever done before.” This is most apparent in his burger blends like the caffeinated Smoked Venti Brgrccino (bacon jam, cocoa and espresso rubbed with smoked gouda cheese), the local suds-crafted Copperpoint Beer Cheese Triple Burger (three patties stacked with four strips of candied bacon, Copperpoint amber lager beer cheese, Lagunitas IPA beer-battered onion straws, bacon jam and “not so secret sauce”) and the award-winning Peanut Butter Jelly Time (with peanut butter, tomato jam, yellow cheddar and candied bacon).
With ingredients ranging from meatballs to pineapple rings to sriracha sauce, BRGR Stop caters to the most adventurous hamburger epicure. I couldn’t resist trying the Nuttin But Truffle—an Angus burger on brioche bun with white truffle aioli, artisan bacon and black truffle “sun cheese” blend smothered with sautéed portobello mushrooms—and it was pretty outstanding, with flavor bursts that varied by the bite. With so many gooey spreads and toppings, each burger begins to drip and ooze as soon as you even look at it cross-eyed; there’s a reason it’s served with a fork and steak knife. Unless you brought a bib from home and enjoy aioli dripping down your arms, use the utensils.
The Grilled Portobello Burger, one of the restaurant’s vegetarian concessions, is less successful despite a game effort. Filled with roasted peppers, zucchini and oven-roasted tomatoes and topped with smoked Gouda and roasted garlic aioli, it’s a tough sell once you’ve tasted any of the carnivorous concoctions; it’s also messier than the Angus burger we tried, with milder flavor that isn’t worth the effort.
No, this is a place to indulge, and that means meat, meat, meat (all grass-fed and GMO-free, by the way!). The apps are outstanding too, like the mountainous Loaded Tots—taters covered in pulled pork, BBQ sauce, cheese and bacon. Even the half-portion could feed a small village. The chili, a cheesy, savory but subtly sweet creation enlivened by Cigar City Maduro brown ale and infused with dark chocolate, is unlike any I’ve tasted.
You won’t have room for dessert, but if you can somehow squeeze it in, the milkshakes are art in a glass. We tried the Pecan Pie shake, which is BRGR Stop’s November special. It contains a slice of pecan pie blended into the mix, and a second full piece wedged the glass. Yep: At BRGR Stop, you really can have your cake and drink it, too.
BRGR Stop is at 1930 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, and the original location is at 4301 Coconut Creek Parkway. For information, visit brgrstop.com.