Limited to just 25 participants, the Newport Burger Bender proved to be a savory success over its 10-day tenure with Jo’s American Bistro in Newport taking top honors. The "best burger" contest took place February 17 through February 26, 2017, in tandem with the Newport Winter Festival. Local chefs and restaurateurs were challenged to “bring the heat” by offering their best hamburger to diners who were encouraged to vote for their favorite. Burgers ranged from traditional beef patties to creative culinary delights. 

"The secret is out: We have great burgers!" said Joann Carlson, owner of Jo's American Bistro in Newport. "I especially want to thank my brilliant Chef, Brian Ruffner, for creating such a tasty and messy burger." 

A Critic’s Choice category was also presented with Gail Ciampa from the Providence Journal and naming three Critic’s Choice winners: Midtown Oyster Bar, Pour Judgement and Jo’s American Bistro. 

“It was a tough choice,” admits Ciampa. “The fried oysters in the Oyster Bar Burger were amazing and Pour Judgement's burger was a perfect bargain. But the bacon onion jam burger at Jo's—so messy to eat, just like a good burger should be, was sweet and salty with bacon onion 

jam and spicy with siracha sauce, and then a wave of creamy cheese, too.” Ciampa paired Jo’s burger with Rhode Island’s own Foolproof beer. "What a delicious idea for a dining promotion. The Burger Bender put the spotlight on the All-American burger. But the choices were anything but ordinary as the chefs built their burgers with fabulous flavors and sauces. Long live the burger." 

The next big culinary extravaganza gourmands should mark on the calendar is Newport Restaurant Week, which will take place March 27 through April 7, 2017. For more information, visit 



Discover Newport is the official destination management organization (DMO) dedicated to promoting the City of Newport and the eight surrounding coastal townships in Newport and Bristol counties, Rhode Island. These include Barrington, Bristol, Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth, Tiverton and Warren. As a non-profit organization, Discover Newport partners with stakeholders throughout our tourism and hospitality industry to market the region as a premier destination for business and leisure travel.