Who’s ready for wild boar facts?!
Did you know, a group of wild boars is called a sounder? Speaking of sound, a wild boar’s squeal can reach up to 115 decibels – louder than the average motorcycle (100 dB). And speaking of motor, did you think wild boars could run up to 30 miles per hour? According to several sources, they can!
Wild boars have been known to dig up graveyards and dig holes in roads. It’s estimated they cause $1.5 billion in damage across the United States alone – and now, a sounder is descending on the Twin Cities Burger Battle in hopes of hauling a trophy off.
Just as wild boars don’t generally travel far from the place of their birth, the burgers of the Wild Boar Bar and Grill haven’t strayed too far from their homes in Hopkins and Oakdale. This year, according to Wild Boar co-owner Ryan Wentz, that’s changing.
“We’re at a place with the Wild Boar now where we can start to get out there and start to do things like Burger Battle, Grill Fest [last month],” says Wentz (no relation to Carson Wentz, by the way). “We’re going to put ourselves out there in every competition. It not only gives us a chance to win something, but also get our name out there and get everybody to realize we’ve got great burgers and great food.”
The Twin Cities Burger Battle began in 2014 with a dozen contestants; this year, 24 bars and restaurants will be in the fight. The Burger Battle’s growth hasn’t gone unnoticed: it was voted Best Food Event/Dinner Event by The Growler this year.
How does it work? Simple! You buy a ticket, you walk into the festival grounds, and you let unlimited burger samples guide you to a state of gluttonous bliss. You vote for your favorite burger, you sleep 4-6 hours longer than usual, and your pants don’t fit quite right the next day. Beer from Summit Brewing and Fulton Brewing will flow, and soft drinks will be available for the getaway drivers.
This year, the magic happens on Harriet Island. It starts at 5 p.m., ends at 8 p.m.
Restaurants have two chances to win: they can woo a panel of celebrity judges, or they can rack up the most votes from festival-goers. To meet one of these two ends, the Wild Boar team will come to Harriet Island packing their hottest heat.
The Diablo Burger, they call it. It’s seasoned with salt and pepper – “Which I think are the only seasonings that should be a on a burger,” he says – with roasted jalapeños and banana peppers huddled under a slice of ghost pepper cheese. A touch of house-made hot sauce, fittingly called “Snort,” is smuggled under the top bun. A stroke of smoky jam is brushed on the bottom bun, to rein in the heat.
If you’ve ever joked about your Minnesotan taste buds, you might find this burger just within your limits. If you’re a capsaicin psychopath like I am, you’ll wish it was spicier. My move: ask for extra Snort. If you like freshly-grilled peppers, juicy beef, and a cool kiss, you’ll want some time with a Diablo Burger.
Wentz estimates his team will dish out 800-1,200 slider-sized burgers, which are cut into quarters and offered to festival-goers. In all, he expects to part with between 300-350 pounds of beef. Team Boar’s battle plan is to handle prep largely at the restaurant, show up a couple of hours early, and have everything made to order when the gloves drop.
The field is a fierce one this year, with five contestants having previously won in some capacity. That does, however, technically include Wentz: he’s part-owner of Inver Grove Heights-based B-52 Burgers and Brew as part of a separate group, and B-52 won the inaugural Burger Battle in 2014.
The Wild Boar has been open in Hopkins for seven years, in the space formerly occupied by Decoy’s Grill and Bar. The Oakdale location is tucked away next to Sgt. Peppers, just off the 10th St. exit from Interstate 694. If you want to get familiar at a low price, look to Thursday: burgers are half-priced at the Oakdale location. Both locations have burger specials on Monday nights, the details of which you can find on this site’s newly-updated Cheeseburger Deal Directory.
Tickets For the Twin Cities Burger Battle are still available and can be purchased on the Twin Cities Burger Battle website. Proceed from the Burger Battle benefit the Sanneh Foundation, and you can learn more about its cause at the Sanneh Foundation website.