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Is the Bowl Burger 'Iowa's Best?'

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HULL - If there is one food lowans take as seriously as we do pork, it's beef.

So it's no surprise the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association are partnering for the fourth year in a search for the best beef hamburger made and served in Iowa by an independently-owned restaurant.

Marv Vis thinks his Bowl Burger could be the winner this year. But he needs his customers'help.

Vis, manager of Family Bowl and Cafe since 1986 and its owner since 1996, has put his signature Bowl Burger on the line for the second time, looking for a top-10 finish in Iowa's Best. It's all about internet support, Vis said; that's what he learned last year.

It's about the burger, too, ofcourse, but the burger must land in the top-10 online vote getters to trigger an incognito visit to Hull by the contest judges to taste it for themselves.

In fact, the Bowl Burger was invented just last year by Vis and his staff during a brainstorming session aimed at "beefing up" the cafe's menu.

"I just decided to come up with some hand-packed burgers," Vis recalled. He and his crew came up with six specialty burgers, including the Bowl Burger. Beef topped with beef

The Bowl Burger is a full one-third pound of 80/20 hand-packed Iowa beef, perfectly grilled, sprinkled with seasonings and topped with paper-thin ribbons of grilled Philly steak, followed by sauteed green peppers and onions.

Still sizzling on the grill, Vis finishes his Bowl Burger with a slice of mozzarella cheese — which melts on contact. The burger is served on a Casey's Bakery bun. "It's got so many different flavors," Vis said. "You have a Philly steak that's seasoned, and then your hamburger is cooked with different seasonings."

Vis isn't worried about his burger scoring high with the judges. He is, however, concerned about getting enough cyber-votes to make the top-10. Only after cyber voters cast their ballots does a panel of judges go around, incognito, to the top-10 vote-getting cafes, restaurants, bowling alleys and bars to taste the burgers for themselves. Maybe then they'll pick up on Vis's philosophy of cooking the best burgers — and everything else — for the cafe: "Try to make it the best you can."

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Original Publication Date: February 27, 2013

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