Cheeseburger Baby caught our eye a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t until a slew of off-the-wall publicity happened that we decided we’d better go in and give it a try. First, by all accounts (police reports were filed) rapper Busta Rhymes allegedly threw a homophobic slur-filled tantrum over ketchup, mayonnaise, and not being able to jump ahead in line. Then Huffington Post ran a story on the night Busta pitched his fit and included the fact that the owners are lesbians. And then the restaurant made it onto an episode of Food Network’s Mystery Diners where Stephanie and D-Rock, the owners of Cheeseburger Baby, suspected an ex-convict-turned-new employee was stealing from them. Spoiler alert: It turned out that a trusted employee, not the ex-con, was the villain. Enough about the drama.
Cheeseburger Baby is said to be the oldest burger bar on Miami Beach. Maybe it is; they opened in 2001. It’s not a fancy place, unless you think white tile, mirrors and graffiti-style murals are fancy. The menu is pretty simple: cheeseburgers with American, cheddar, pepperjack or Swiss cheese. Obviously you can leave the cheese off, which would make it a Hamburger Baby, but don’t ask them to put the ketchup or mayonnaise on; that’s where Busta’s visit went wrong. The burgers come three ways: with Angus beef, turkey or veggie, and in two sizes, 1/2 pound or 2.5 ounce baby size (that you can buy in two, four or ten packs). There are also chicken fingers, Philly cheesesteaks, Buffalo wings, fries covered in all sorts of matter or plain and onion rings. There’s even a five-pound burger called “The Punisher.” Finish it without help in one sitting and it’s free.
Jay-Z once proclaimed that Cheeseburger Baby is his burger bar of choice in Miami. Kanye West, T.I. and a bevy of well-known athletes, like David Beckham, and stars routinely turn up in this now-legendary Washington Avenue burger joint, and apparently have no issues, so Busta, what’s your deal?
So why should you grab a bite to eat in a place that famously won’t put ketchup and mayonnaise on your burger for you? Because the burgers are over-the-top fabulous. The meat is fresh, correctly prepared (medium is medium), and cooked to order. We also tried the Philly cheesesteak and fries, finding both to be top-notch. We had a great time listening to the banter on the phone calls and were entertained by Nikki, who grilled up our fabulous food.
For those of you who find hunting down good food trucks fun, you’ll be glad to know that Cheeseburger Baby also has a mobile version. We don’t know the location at any given moment, but they are usually parked at the Young Circle ArtsPark Food Truck Rally on Mondays.
The prose on the back of the employee T-shirts informs the public that “it shouldn’t take 5 Guys to make a cheeseburger,” a reference to the mass-produced corporate burger chain that popped up a few years ago across the street. And it shouldn’t, as a couple of lesbians can apparently keep the lines moving just fine. So next time you’re approaching the door of any one of those corporate burger chains on Washington, think about spending your money with family and eat at the locally-owned Cheeseburger Baby.