Metro-East Living

Two area restaurants in running for Illinois Beef Association best burger contest

JV’s Downtown Bar and Grill is mainstay in Waterloo

Jeff Vogt was working at John's Tavern in Waterloo in 1985, when he and his wife, Denise, bought it and changed the name to JV's Downtown Bar and Grill. The restaurant serves smoked meats, burgers, pizza and more, as shown in this 2017 video.
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Jeff Vogt was working at John's Tavern in Waterloo in 1985, when he and his wife, Denise, bought it and changed the name to JV's Downtown Bar and Grill. The restaurant serves smoked meats, burgers, pizza and more, as shown in this 2017 video.

Restaurants in Mascoutah and Waterloo are among five finalists in an Illinois Beef Association contest for the best burger in the state.

People nominated more than 60 restaurants on the organization’s website May 1-15. The Top 5 vote-getters were Mascoutah Steak House, JVs Downtown Bar and Grill in Waterloo, Hagel 1891 in Mt. Sterling, Moonshine Store in Martinsville and Cerno’s Bar & Grill in Kewanee.

Voting on finalists started May 17 and will continue through May 31 at www.illinoisbeef.com.

“I don’t even know how I got nominated or who nominated me, but it’s all good,” said Jeff Vogt, owner of JVs. “It’s all in fun. ... It’s always nice to get recognized for something you’ve been doing for 34 years.”

Vogt bought the former John’s Tavern, where he was working, in 1985 and renamed it.

“Our JV Burger is a quarter-pound, 1819-grind burger with provel cheese and bacon on a bakery bun,” he said. “We have different variations, like the Mackie Burger with grilled onions and mushrooms and the Firehouse Burger with grilled jalapenos and pepper Jack cheese.”

JVs also is known for its barbecue.

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JVs Downtown Bar and Grill serves smoked meats, burgers, pizza and more. It’s one of five finalists in the Illinois’ Best Burger Contest sponsored by the Illinois Beef Association. Steve Nagy snagy@bnd.com

Mascoutah Steak House is a 7-year-old restaurant owned by Fred Hannan. It serves a COBB Burger (carmelized onions, bacon and blue cheese), which is very popular.

“People like the balance of the sweet, salty and crispy,” said manager Nicole Vernier. “... We also have the same toppings on our steaks and one of our flatbread pizzas.”

The restaurant was one of five finalists in the Illinois’ Best Burger Contest in 2017, the first year it was held. But Mascoutah Steak House lost to Route No. 73 Brew & Chew in Pearl City.

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Mascoutah Steakhouse is one of five finalists in a contest sponsored by the Illinois Beef Association for the best burger in the state. Voting continues through May 31. Provided

The Illinois Beef Association didn’t hold the contest last year.

“We’re doing this during the month of May because May is Beef Month in Illinois, and we like to recognize restaurants that are doing a great job of serving beef and having beef on their menus,” said Jill Johnson, executive vice president. “It’s also a way for Illinois cattle farmers to connect to these restaurants and show their appreciation for them serving beef.”

Johnson couldn’t immediately provide figures on how many people have voted in the burger contest this year. To qualify, restaurants must use patties made of 100 percent beef and serve them on buns or other bread products.

This year’s winner will get a plaque and media recognition. In addition, three people who vote in the contest will receive $50 beef gift certificates in a random drawing.

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