Magic at Moonlit Burgers
Updated: Jan 18
Moonlit Burgers first appeared on Pittsburgh’s food scene in July 2020, serving up smashburgers that reminded me of those served at In-N-Out. Since July, Moonlit Burgers has popped up in front of several different locations, including Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream in Shadyside, The Vandal in Lawrenceville, and the Ace Hotel in East Liberty.
I’ve gotten to try these burgers twice now, once at a socially distanced picnic at Churchview Farm in October and more recently, at Io Deli in Mount Lebanon. Every time Moonlit Burgers pops up, there is a line around the block—and it’s definitely worth the wait.
Smashburgers are made by simply smashing a hamburger patty down so that it has more contact with the heat source. This causes the Maillard reaction, which is when amino acids and simple sugars in ground meat react and result in smell and color changes, as well as flavor variation and intensifications.
Classic smashburgers are hard to come by in the ‘burgh, and Moonlit Burgers does it right. They use black angus beef, so you know you’re getting the good stuff. Moonlit’s smashburgers are built with two patties, American cheese, vidalia onion, pickles, and moon sauce, all on a Martin’s potato roll. The patties are thin, so the amount of meat isn’t overwhelming, either.
Moonlit’s special moon sauce is the secret to their burgers and it’s made by combining gojuchang, a fermented Korean condiment made from red chili powder, with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Sriracha, white vinegar, sesame and pickles.
The first time I bit into one of these burgers, I knew I could never go back to regular hamburgers again. Everything on the fluffy potato roll plays a part in making Moonlit’s smashburger mouthwatering. The thin patties get crispy, as well as juicy. The pickles and the artfully crafted moon sauce add the perfect amount of acidity and heat, while the vidalia onions add a hint of sweetness. Of course, no smashburger is complete without American cheese, which drips down the side of the burger like a waterfall.
I think I finished one of these in five minutes flat, and I immediately wanted another one. I washed it down with an ice cold Coca-Cola, which is the epitome of Americana.
Moonlit Burgers is planning future pop-ups, so follow their Instagram @moonlitburgers to find out how you can get one of their delectable burgers in your hands.
This article was originally published on North Hills Monthly's website, nhmmag.com.