At long last, Cowabunga arrives this weekend and we sincerely hope you've been training for this three-day, all-you-can-eat festival of meat. To recap, Friday brings the surf and the turf; Saturday afternoon is a love letter to barbecue-and-beer fans, while that evening's Seared event is an homage to the American steak house (and its brown liquor–based cocktails, too). Last but not least, but certainly most burger-filled: Burger Bash. Here's what we're excited about for Cowabunga's Sunday finale—and of course what else we're stoked to see, eat, and drink all weekend long.
1. One-of-a-kind burgers (and burger-adjacent eats) from badass chefs.
Tacoma's Jan Parker, she of Jan Parker Cookery, is among the area's foremost Filipina chefs so you better believe her burger will pay homage to her culinary roots via a beef longanisa sausage slider with patis (fish sauce), tomato, and onion on a pandesal bun. In Ballard at his Porkchop and Co. restaurant, chef Paul Osher deals in perfect pork belly hash and fois gras–stuffed french toast. So expect similar flare with his hummus bowl and housemade everything bagel—yes, another bagel you must have in order to amass bagel knowledge—and vegetables. The skillful and mindful chef Nikki DeGidio (Lucky Santo) is making a Painted Hills ground beef chili. And now that we've just entered fall, officially, it's exactly what's required to warm the soul.
2. Two local chainlets—one Seattle, the other Portland—with totally different approaches to the ideal burger.
Little Big Burger, whose Wallingford location finally arrived in Seattle last fall with two others—Capitol Hill and Green Lake—following suit this year, is a Portland staple. Hailing from Oregon, it's no surprise Little Big Burger uses Tillamook Cheddar on its classically styled version (lettuce, pickles, red onion, and Camden's Catsup on a housemade brioche bun). Representing Seattle's burger game, Li'l Woody's will make the more bombastic burgers for which its known and loved.
3. The inimitable Poison Waters.
The entertainment veteran is fiercely funny, which risks the accidental spit take for Cowabunga-goers. She'll emcee Burger Bash in ways only she can. Meanwhile, check out the live music (Surf 'N Turf: DJ B Two Times and Fly Moon Royalty, Beer 'N BBQ: Bret Benton, Seared: DJ Strange Babes) and performances (burlesque by the Tender Loins, including Ruby Mimosa, Waxie Moon, Amara Strut, and the Luminous Pariah) throughout the weekend.
4. All of the tailgating fun with none of the clean-up woes.
Cowabunga's Burger Bash this year is inspired by the all-American game day tradition of tailgating—don gear to rep your favorite team to truly get into the spirit of the day—except you don't have to wake up exceptionally early for parking or worry about packing everything up whilst half-buzzed. Beyond burgers—quite possibly the best, cooked-from-the-portable-grill food of all time—bites will likewise feel like the updated version of game day snacks.
Much like tailgating, this shindig involves a fair amount of day drinking. From noon until 4, sip on locally forged beers from Pike Brewing or the crushable lager from Montucky Cold Snacks, elegant, burger-friendly pours of Washington wine, plus cocktails. What else? A make-it-your-way Jack and coke bar; bloody marys (duh); Baileys Irish Cream cold brew treat bars (I don't know either, but they sound good); and flavorful ciders (winter melon, caramelized pineapple, roasted hatch chili—apparently you start to feel the heat on the third sip). And for the designated drivers or party-loving teetotalers out there, wash down all of those bites with the carbonated force of Topo Chico sparkling water.
6. A MF-ing french fry bar. And a MF-ing Ellenos yogurt bar.
These aren't necessarily things to be consumed together, but you won't see us throwing shade at anyone who indulges in Claire Montana Cooks' golden fries with a side of dense, otherworldly Greek yogurt from the famous Ellenos. Or, you know, eat them separately throughout the weekend. You do you. (Psst: If yogurt and fries isn't your bag, Hurry Curry of Tokyo will cook its signature ground beef curry to use as a fry topping; it's like a beautiful poutine spin-off.)