This is a post by N&O restaurant critic Greg Cox:
In the mood for a burger? You’ve got more - and more varied - options than ever. The nationwide gourmet burger trend, given a boost in North Carolina last year by relaxed regulations regarding the doneness of ground beef, shows no sign of letting up.
Zinburger (8030-905 Renaissance Pkwy.; zinburgereast.com) is on target for an early November opening in the Streets at Southpoint. The small New Jersey-based chain raises the ante on the traditional burger joint with a distinctive “burger and wine bar” concept. As the whimsical wine-sipping cow logo suggests, though, Zinburger is a casual place. Not inclined to order the Ravenswood “Vintner’s Blend” zinfandel that’s the suggested pairing for your Nueske’s bacon-topped Samburger? Feel free to order a salted caramel shake instead.
While you’re waiting for Zinburger to open, you can check out Town Hall Burger and Beer (7830-100 NC Hwy. 751; 919-973-0506; townhallburgerandbeer.com) nearby - so near, in fact, that you could walk there in a pinch. But don’t trust Google Maps on this one; the restaurant is in the new shopping center at the intersection of Hwy. 751 and Renaissance Parkway. Service is fast food style, but the burgers are anything but: a half-pound blend of chuck, brisket and rib, char-grilled to order and served on your choice of brioche bun, tandoori naan or pretzel bread. Choose from a dozen draft beers to wash it down. Enjoy your meal on the patio, if the weather cooperates.
Over in Chapel Hill, Al’s Burger Shack (516 W. Franklin St.; 919-904-7659;alsburgershack.com) raises the ante with NC pasture-raised beef. Burgers are offered in three sizes (the 3-ounce Buddy Bite, 6-ounce Junior, and 9-ounce Big Al), with topping combinations ranging from chili cheeseburger to the Paco (guacamole, tomato, jalapeño and habanero jack). On the downside for medium-rare burger fans, Al’s is a we-cook-it-medium holdout. For consolation, try J Bo’s Sweet “Burger” for dessert: Mapleview Farms vanilla custard sandwiched between locally baked amaretto almond cookies.
Send restaurant news to Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to tune in to Greg's radio show at 11 a.m. Saturdays on WPTF.