Food For Thought | Burgatory

Food For Thought is a biweekly blog where Kendall Swift reviews restaurants around Pittsburgh.


Kendall Swift | Staff Writer

A chicken sandwich and chips at the Burgatory.

By Kendall Swift, Staff Writer

Because of the proximity to campus, most Pitt students have been to Stack’d, which I’ve previously reviewed.

But if you’ve been around Pittsburgh, you’ve probably heard of Burgatory. There are locations scattered around the City and surrounding suburbs, such as Homestead, the North Shore and inside the PPG Paints Arena. Stack’d and Burgatory are similar restaurants in that they both specialize in custom burgers and milkshakes.

Burgatory, as the name suggests, is themed like a parody of purgatory — a place before heaven where sinners must atone. The red color palette and use of tiny pitchforks add to this theming. Even certain menu items are subtly religiously themed, such as “angel dust” and “diablo dust” seasoning. Though all of the locations are similar, I went to the one in Homestead, which is about a 30-minute bus ride from campus.

As previously mentioned, Burgatory specializes in burgers and milkshakes. The milkshakes are offered in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties, although they are wildly expensive. The cheapest is $7.50. For burgers, customers choose from pre-designed combinations or have the option to build their own. The build-your-own burgers are created through a checklist-like sheet that customers fill out, similar to the build-your-own burgers at Stack’d. They also offer salads, finger foods and chili.

I chose to build my own burger. I’ve visited before, so I have my go-to order already decided. But this time, I decided to try something completely new for the sake of this review. As part of the customization process, I could choose a protein, bun, rub, cheese, sauce and toppings. For an additional price, I could also add cheese and deluxe toppings.

My sandwich consisted of a chicken breast, a brioche bun, the spicy “diablo dust” rub, bourbon BBQ sauce, pickles and onion straws. All of my toppings were included except for the onion straws, which added $1. For a side, I got complimentary chips. Altogether, my meal cost about $11.

I am impressed with my creation, though it does have its downfalls. The chicken breast is nicely cooked and very juicy. Most chicken breasts have some form of gristle attached, but this one did not, which was a pleasant surprise.

The diablo dust rub is surprising. There isn’t much of it on the chicken, but still conveys the spice well. Even though it was spicier than I expected, I still think that the chicken could use more of the rub. It is possible to ask for extra rub, though — a mistake on my part for not ordering the extra.

The pickles are crisp and fresh. They don’t do much other than add crunch to the burger, but that’s what I intended them for. It complements the rub and the sauce well. I appreciate that they are very thick-cut pickle slices.

As for the sauce, I wish there had been more of it because I could barely taste it. Once again, though, it’s possible to ask for extra sauce so this is more of a me issue. From what I could taste, the sauce has that same sweet, tangy taste that most BBQ sauces have. That being said, I couldn’t detect the bourbon flavor. Whether that was because of the limited amount of sauce or a lack of bourbon flavor, I’m not sure.

The onion straws are my biggest disappointment. They are fried, so I expected them to be crispy, but they are just flimsy. The breading on the straws is not crisp, either. I still enjoyed the onion flavor they gave my sandwich, but I wish that they had been fried a little longer.

The chips are unextraordinary. They are crisp, but not warm. There is not much flavor besides salt and pepper, if you consider that flavor. They are good as a free side, but I would not go out of my way to order them. This is not a fault of the restaurant, as chips are not normally a very interesting dish to review.

Overall, besides the onion straws, my biggest complaints do not have to do with the restaurant itself. For example, I wish I would have ordered extra rub and sauce on my sandwich. Other than those small gripes, I enjoyed my trip to Burgatory. I’ve been to Burgatory several times before this and I will definitely be back. Compared to its competitor Stack’d, I much prefer Burgatory.