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Iowa’s Best Burger boosts business

By Staff | Jun 22, 2018

Shown here is an award winning burger from Cafe Beaudelaire located on Lincoln Way in Ames. Recently, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association named Cafe Beaudelaire as the winner of the 2018 Best Burger in Iowa.



AMES – It’s a tricky thing, but a good thing. Win the Best Burger in Iowa award, be prepared for an onslaught and hope your loyal customers remain patient.

Just ask Claudio Gianello, who has seen how guests flock from all across Iowa and beyond and fill every table in Cafe Beaudelaire in Ames in their quest to savor a beef masterpiece.

“We’ve been cooking 300 to 400 burgers a day since we won the award,” said Brazilian-born Gianello, who has owned and operated the Cafe Beaudelaire on Lincoln Way for 28 years. “Some of our regular customers have backed off since things got so busy, but I know they’ll be back.”

The momentum hasn’t stopped since the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) and the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) announced Cafe Beaudelaire as the winner of the 2018 Best Burger in Iowa contest on May 1.

“We were excited to kick off May Beef Month by awarding Cafe Beaudelaire with the title of the Best Burger in Iowa,” said Brooke German, director of marketing for IBIC. “The Brazilian-inspired restaurant serves a hand-pattied burger, and the judges noted that the taste and quality of the burger is outstanding and worth a drive to have it again.”

The soul of Brazil in the heart of Iowa

Cafe B, as it’s called by the locals, is owned by Gianello and his wife, Kellie, from Carroll. Located across from Iowa State University (ISU) in Campustown, Cafe B is open daily and serves up the soul of Brazil in the heart of Iowa. Cafe B’s hearty food with Latin flair appeals to both Ames’ student population and permanent residents.

The cafe’s clientele changes throughout the day. A few older gentlemen arrive to drink coffee and watch the morning news before the restaurant officially opens. ISU professors stop by for lunch, followed by ISU students who keep the place busy late into the night.

All are drawn to Cafe B’s laid-back, comfortable atmosphere with plenty of character. Soccer games dominate the flat-screen televisions, while colorful flags from around the globe accent the dining room walls. Guests can leave their mark by tacking paper money from their home country to the walls and beams around the bar. Eye-catching bills from Nigeria, Tanzania and other nations offer one more glimpse into the global vibe of this charming, hole-in-the-wall cafe that creates an unexpected oasis in the middle of Iowa.

The flavors served up at Cafe B aren’t your typical Iowa cafe fare, either, thanks to a menu inspired by the street food sold by food truck vendors in Brazil, Argentina, Spain and other European and South American countries.

It wasn’t food, however, that crated Cafe B. The business started in 1990 from a simple need.

“There was no place to get a good cup of coffee,” said Gianello, who hails from Mato Grosso do Sul, a productive region of Brazil defined by agriculture.

Over time, Gianello added burgers to the menu and refined several different renditions of his now-famous burger at Cafe B (whose name is inspired by Beau-del-aire, derived from the French poet Baudelaire, which roughly translates to beauty of the air).

Gianello settled on a simple combination of salt, pepper and oregano on a hand-made patty of Certified Angus Beef.

“Angus is the key to a juicy burger,” said Gianello, who cooks each 7-ounce patty for approximately 4 minutes on each side. “Don’t squish the patty as it’s cooking, or you’ll lose the juices. Just let the grill do the work.”

Cafe B’s classic burger embodies savory simplicity with a high-quality beef topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and mayo. Customers can add bacon, cheese or a fried egg, if they like.

Other signature Cafe B burgers also showcase a fine-tuned balance of flavors.

The Spanish burger is a house favorite and offers the same quality Certified Angus Beef patty on its fresh-baked bun with sauteed bell peppers and onions, Muenster cheese and Spanish paprika mayo. Sandwiches come with Brazilian fries – fried potato wedges topped with salt and coarse-ground pepper, served in the European and Latin style with mayo for dipping.

This international flair blends seamlessly with Cafe B’s casual cafe atmosphere. While the restaurant can only seat about 49 guests, Cafe B offers indoor and outdoor dining and never fails to attract large crowd when the FIFA World Cup soccer championships are broadcast on TV.

Cafe B will likely be a prime destination for bicyclists on the 2018 RAGBRAI route, since 10,000 registered riders have an overnight stop in Ames on July 24.

“Our focus on quality and presentation gives life to our Brazilian fusion cuisine and drinks,” Gianello said. “Come enjoy our atmosphere and try something unique and fresh.”

Honoring Iowa’s beef producers

Cafe B joins previous winners of Iowa’s Best Burger contest, including:

– The Smokin’ Hereford BBQ, Storm Lake (2017)

– The Chuckwagon Restaurant, Adair (2016)

– Cider House, Fairfield (2015)

– Brick City Grill, Ames (2014)

– 61 Chop House Grille, Mediapolis (2013)

– Coon Bowl III, Coon Rapids (2012)

– Rusty Duck, Dexter (2011)

– Sac County Cattle Company, Sac City (2010)

The designation as Iowa’s Best Burger comes after a two-phase competition. The first phase is all based on votes from the public. For a month, burger lovers go online and vote for their favorite Iowa burger. Burger fans submitted nearly 10,000 votes in 2018, representing around 700 restaurants. At the end of the month, the 10 restaurants with the most votes are declared the “Top 10.”

From there, anonymous judges visit each of the restaurants, focusing on the burger patties and scoring them based on taste, doneness and presentation.

One of the judges, who has judged the Iowa’s Best Burger competition in the past, told contest administrators, “I always ask myself, would I go out of my way to get this burger? Would I drive a long way to have this burger again? In this case, yes, I would, and that tells me it’s a great burger.”

Iowa has nearly 30,000 beef producers and is fourth in the nation for the number of cattle on feed.

“The burger contest is a fun way for us to show our appreciation to Iowa’s beef farmers for the work they do to provide great-tasting beef, such as the burger served at Cafe B,” said Katie Olthoff, director of communications for ICA.

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