After a short day of driving, I was back in Charlotte and soaking up the second wave of football on opening weekend. In between the 10 year 9/11 anniversary memorials and touchdowns, I was doing my best to find something interesting for dinner in Charlotte. I had my eye on a few fine dining establishments I had read about on Chowhound, but it seemed like every one was either closed on Sunday, not answering their phone, or booked solid. I decided to try the other end of the spectrum, not $5 bowl of pho cheap, but something in between. That’s when I ran across The Liberty. A self-proclaimed gastropub, The Liberty carried a fine selection of beers and the apparent title of Charlotte’s best burger. That's all I needed to here and I was soon on my way to see the best burger that Charlotte had to offer.
Covered in sea salt, the house made fresh pretzel was a fine first choice. A silky dough and the crunch of ideally sized salt crystals meant sauces were unnecessary but The Liberty provided a few anyway.
Faced with a choice of cheddar fondue and spicy house mustard, I quickly found that the creamy cheddar fondue only elevated an already well done pretzel. The house mustard was no slouch either, but lacking any real punch, it quickly faded when put side by side with the fondue.
As if a big pretzel wasn’t enough, it was soon joined by an order of the bbq pork rinds.
Pretzel and pork rinds? Doesn’t that seem excessive? Yes, it does, but who’s going to turn down the sheen of homemade pork rinds?
They arrived at the table still crackling with just the taste of pork and bbq seasoning spice & smokiness. What really surprised me was the texture. These were the lightest pork rinds I’ve ever eaten, a porcine cloud with an ethereal crunch.
Before I had a chance to completely stuff myself with pretzel and pork skin, the Painted Hills’ pub burger was brought to my table.
Initially, I was disappointed that a medium-rare burger wasn’t allowed, but the first bite of juicy beef and thick, smoky bacon left my medium temperature qualms behind.
If there was one oddity to this burger besides the temperature, it was the greasiness of the lettuce, but when you’re dealing with Sweetgrass cheddar, bacon, herb aioli, and caramelized onions, it’s an acceptable side effect. Somehow, even with all these ingredients and prominent flavors, the beef is never overshadowed, just complimented. I don’t know what sort of voodoo The Liberty uses on their burgers, but they’ve got a masterpiece of a pub burger on their hands.
At this point, I was ready to finish my beer and head back to the hotel, but the bartender was an excellent salesman and I was soon face to face with a caramel dessert.
When I was told there would be oreo in the dessert, I was expecting a crunch when the spoon punched through, no such luck.
The caramel dessert ticked all the rich boxes, it was salty, rich, decadent, and frankly too much for one person especially after the pub burger.
I came to The Liberty to see just what constituted Charlotte’s best burger and after meeting the Painted Hills pub burger face to face; I believe it is a worthy contender for that title. It’s a burger like this and these pork rinds that make me love a good gastropub. The menu at The Liberty may not be filled with food worthy of multiple Michelin stars, but it’s well-crafted, relatively simple, and immensely satisfying and when coupled with a tidy selection of craft beers, it’s magic.
The Liberty Address & Information