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Goonie Burger voted best in Nebraska
September 10, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Photo by Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen - Paul Guhn shows off his burger and trophy.

Looking for the best burger in Nebraska? You’ll find two of the finest right here in our local area.

The Goonie Burger, a creation of Goonie’s Kozy Keno Bar and Grill in Terrytown, took home the top honor at this year’s Nebraska’s Best Burger Contest hosted by the Nebraska Beef Council.

The contest runner-up award was presented to The Union Bar in Gering for their new burger, The Deuce. The U also finished in second place in 2013 and 2014 for its Union Burger.

This is the first competition for Goonie’s, which has been in business for about two years. “I would have been fine with fifth place,” said owner Paul Guhn. “As the judges kept announcing the next place, I realized the top two burgers would be from this area,” he said. “It was unbelievable when they announced the winner. We’re happy to bring the trophy to western Nebraska and extremely happy that Terrytown has something to boast about. But it took people from across the Panhandle to get us into the contest in the first place.”

The judging event, held at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island on Sept. 4, featured the top five hamburgers in the state as nominated by the public during an online poll in August. About 6,000 nominations were received in that poll.

During judging, each restaurant had the opportunity to prepare their signature hamburger for a panel of four judges. The hamburgers were judged on flavor, texture and proper cooking temperature. Other scoring categories included appearance and food safety.

“It was nerve-wracking at first,” Guhn said. “We were fourth to present, but it went well once we got into our element.”

Finishing in third was Sozo American Cuisine in Kearney. The Cellar Bar and Grill in Kearney took home fourth place, followed by Stella’s Bar and Grill in Bellevue, last year’s winner.

The winning Goonie Burger features fresh beef and includes mushrooms, onions, and sautéed jalapenos. It’s topped off with ham, American and Pepper Jack cheese, all on a split-top toasted bun with their secret sauce.

“I really have to thank Cash-Wa Distributing for always providing us with the freshest ingredients,” Guhn said. “That’s essential to cooking award-winning burgers.” Guhn also credits his wife Lisa’s secret sauce for the win. “The judges commented that we should consider bottling it and selling it,” he said.

Guhn said his staff is already working on potential recipes for next year’s entry in case Goonie’s makes it to the finals.
Since the competition, people from across the state have stopped in for a Goonie Burger fix.

Scott Swanson of Gering’s Union Bar, who also competed in the Best Burger Contest, said the event is always fun. “It’s really neat the top two went to western Nebraska this year. That’s what I was hoping for.”

Swanson said he and his staff are also brainstorming ideas for a possible new burger to enter next year. “Unless we come up with something better, we might enter The Deuce burger again. It’s the most popular burger on our menu now.”
The Deuce starts with a half-pound fresh beef patty, Swiss cheese, potato coins with cheddar cheese and jalapeno, American cheese, three strips of bacon, pepper jack cheese, all on a jalapeno bun with “sparky sauce.”
Goonie’s was presented the 2015 Best Burger trophy and a cash prize of $1,000 for the first place finish. The other contestants also received cash prizes and recognition plaques for their accomplishments.

This is the first year the Best Burger Contest was decided by a panel of judges. Adam Wegner, Director of Marketing for the Nebraska Beef Council, said the event was lots of fun. “The addition of the judging event at the Nebraska State Fair really added to the excitement of the contest and created a great way to provide some exposure for these restaurants and the quality hamburgers they serve every day.”

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