The Takeout's Fantasy Food Draft: Best Burger Topping

Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.

Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout staffers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week's draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.

The winner of last week's inaugural Takeout Draft, as voted by readers: Gwen Ihnat!

For our Week 2 draft, we have selected a topic close to our hearts: Best burger topping.

We randomly assigned an order for the draft via, and the draft order was determined to be:

  1. Kevin Pang
  2. Gwen Ihnat
  3. Kate Bernot
  4. Allison Shoemaker

Kate Bernot: Let's get ready to rumble

Kevin Pang: Ooh, first pick! I choose... American cheese. We don't even order hamburgers anymore. We order cheeseburgers. And the perfect cheese is American cheese. It's not as forward as say Cheddar, it melts well, it's rich, it goes really nicely with beef. You can't have a burger without American cheese.

Allison Shoemaker: Hard to argue with that

KB: Unless you're a cheese snob.

KP: You're up next, Gwen, with the second overall pick.

Gwen Ihnat: Lettuce

KB: WOAH, did not see this coming.


GI: Lettuce brings a delicate crispy crunchiness to your burger. Raises it to the next level. Adds a nice freshness and may be the only green thing on your plate. Interesting delightful texture. Lettuce is my go-to.

Also, I may be bad at this.

KB: It doesn't taste like anything!

GI: It tastes like summer!

KB: Crunch is good, though. I will give it crunch.

GI: Think of what is going to add texture to your burger. Lettuce, man.

KP: Gwen, there's nothing you'd want on a burger more than lettuce?

KB: No coaching, Kevin!

GI: As toppings go, it's my number one

I mean, after cheese

AS: Lettuce is a utility guy pick, into it

KP: Kate, you have the next pick. I'm intrigued how you're tackling this surprise development

KB: Yeah wow, my game plan is entirely altered. OK, I chose... bacon jam!

I am on record as preferring it to bacon.

It's both sweet and salty, fatty and acidic. Spiced, nuanced, glorious. And it doesn't slip off your burger like bacon does.

AS: Man, that was going to be mine.

KP: Well Allison, you have the next two picks. Snake draft rules. Let's hear your first pick.

AS: Well speaking of things we're on record for loving

I pick mustard

I love a fancy-ass mustard

I love yellow mustard

Mustard is an indispensable condiment

KB: I'm learning so much about all of us, truly. Burger toppings are a window to the soul.

KP: What does mustard add to your burger experience, Allison?

AS: I mean, it's mustard. It adds mustard to my burger experience.

Mustard is a wonder.

And in general, I like sauces/condiments on burgers because they also sort of act as a glue.

I don't care for a sloppy burger

GI: With me, every burger is a sloppy burger. I have to cut them into eighths

KP: And your second round pick, Allison, is...

AS: Let's go with onions, and if we need a specific onion type, I'll go with raw white onions.

I love a nice pile of caramelized onions but like Gwen, I also like some crispness

GI: Whenever I have raw onions I feel like I can't talk to anyone for at least a week

AS: Even better, people are terrible

KP: "window to the soul..."

KB: Nice little cronch there.

KP: Okay Kate, you're up.

KB: OK, I choose... mayo!


GI: I approve this pick with my whole heart

KB: Little tangy, little rich, little creamy, a lot fatty.

You could argue my bacon jam burger needs no further richness, but I will hear none of it.

GI: No matter what that Drew Magary says

KB: Drew's never attended one of my burger parties, so.

WHY DO YOU KEEP TURNING DOWN MY INVITES, DREW? Oh, it's because of the mayo.

KP: Gwen, you're up!

GI: Okay, back in the mainstream: BACON


GI: baconbaconbaconbaconbacon

KP: I can't believe bacon fell to the 7th spot

KB: I would have chosen bacon even after choosing bacon jam.

GI: Like lettuce, bacon adds a nice texture to your burger, along with some solid deliciousness. Not enough meat on that burger for you? Just add some nice bacon, preferably black pepper-crusted, maybe some maple-izing, That's a gourmet burger right there.

KP: For my next pick, I say: grilled onions

Caramelized into soft tangles, a nice golden color, sweet.

I think there's no greater combination than cheese and caramelized onions on a burger.

KB: Aside from the fact that they take a long time, I am pro-caramelized onions.

GI: I can actually talk to people after caramelized onions, so: pro

KP: That being said, I really hoped bacon would fall to me, then I would've gotten the American cheese + bacon + caramelized onions trifecta, at which point I'd shut down the draft because I would've already won.

I also have the next pick. I choose mushrooms.

KP: It adds a different type of meatiness to the burger.

It's got umami savoriness, it adds texture, it's mushrooms!

A mushroom cheeseburger is delicious, too.

Gwen, back to you

GI: hmmmm, I am so torn

But I got to stick to a basic: ketchup

KB: Ketchup is nice in conjunction with other toppings

It sort of needs to be a supporting actor

GI: I find it really hard to eat a burger without ketchup. Even at White Castle, I ask for sliders with ketchup

I feel like as a Chicagoan I'm not supposed to like it but I can't help it

This concludes my ketchup feelings thank you for coming to my TED talk

KB: As long as it's not artisan ketchup...

GI: oh hells no

KP: Kate, your pick...

KB: Can't believe we picked two types of onions already but only one cheese. So... Cheddar.

AS: Rats

KB: It stands up to bolder toppings like bacon and barbecue sauce, whereas a more delicate cheese like Swiss would get lost.

It is also sort of glue-y, if you're trying to keep toppings together.

AS: A very valuable quality in a burger topping

KP: Allison, you have the next two picks

AS: Okay, so Kate snaked my cheese choice, but I'm going to stick with the category and go with a nice crumbly choice: goat cheese!

I am fully aware that I'm going to lose, that's fine with me

But I love goat cheese on a burger.

GI: I have never had that: too crumbly?

AS: Creamy, melty, tangy

Like blue cheese but not as aggressive

KB: Goat cheese on a lamb or turkey burger especially is A+

AS: Sometimes it's spreadable, which is handy, but it works in crumbles too

GI: Could you do a boursin? so many thoughts for grill season

KP: Allison, what's your round 4 pick?

AS: I'm really torn for this one, because there are a few classics still on the board, but I've got to go with another saucy selection and pick... barbecue sauce

KB: I was surprised that didn't go earlier, honestly

AS: You can instantly make a lackluster burger taste a thousand times better with a good BBQ sauce.

KB: But so many good condiment choices

GI: always seems like a strange add to me, like the burger is asking, "hey, why are you not ketchup?"

I love a good bbq sauce, don't get me wrong

KP: I love me a good Western BBQ burger (bacon + fried onion rings + BBQ sauce + cheese)

KB: TIL how much Gwen loves ketchup

GI: And yet, I don't put it on fries. I contain multitudes!

KP: Kate, you're up.

KP: I choose: pickles


GI: 👏

KB: Necessary crunch, tang, tiny bit of spice and sweetness

Also, I could just eat them straight out of the jar.

By "could" I mean "do," frequently.

GI: My son always takes his pickles off his McDonald's burgers and I'm like, "gimme"

KP: Gwen, you're up.

GI: Okay! Tomato

Like Harriet the Spy with her tomato sandwiches, I adore a tomato slice on my burger. In fact, my ideal lineup is ketchup, mayo, lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickle, bacon, done.

Without tomato, this lineup would be unfulfilled.

KP: Your "team" is essentially a BLT


KB: Two tomato products, bold.

KP: Okay, I have my last 2 picks.

I will go first with: Special Sauce

That's right, McDonald's Big Mac sauce. Thousand Island, but a bit creamier. Hits all the notes—creaminess of mayo, bite of pickles, sweetness of ketchup.

It's an all-in-one condiment.

And for my last pick, I'm gonna throw a curveball.

We wouldn't be acknowledging our site's Midwest roots if I didn't go with... butter

GI: oh lord

KB: A la Culvers?

KP: Culver's is fine, but if you really want a butter burger, you go to Solly's in Milwaukee

It's an ice cream scoop of butter that melts onto the plate, creating a moat around the burger.

KP: Okay last pick for Gwen!

GI: Just trying to get that image out of my head, sorry

I am also going the curveball angle: onion ring

AS: A really solid pick. One of my favorite burger-as-excuse-for-toppings picks

GI: Who doesn't want a nice crunchy onion product on top of their burger? Not me, brother

KB: For my last pick... Fried egg!

GI: YES! Bringing it all back around

KB: Sometimes I like a good brunch burger... get that bacon+egg combo going, oooo boy.

KP: Oh Kate.

KB: There is an unctuousness to the egg that no other ingredient can replicate.

KP: Allison, you have the final pick of the day! And it goes to...

AS: A-VO-CA-DO clap clap clapclapclap

KB: 🥑

AS: NICE AND CREAMY clap clap clapclapclap

GI: I was thinking about that one very seriously

I like that it has a cheer also

KB: Your song is convincing.

Your vote matters! Who won?