People worry about clogged arteries, but it turns out that the big waiter in the sky is serving more final checks to cows than people. At least, that’s how it seems in a city like Houston, where burger making and, subsequently, burger eating is basically a national sport. In Houston, you really can have it your way, whether it’s an organic bison patty on a gluten-free ciabatta bun, a decadent Frito Pie burger with corn chips, chili, cheese, grilled onions and jalapenos on a beefy slab of meat (you’ll want to whirr up that treadmill afterwards), or just a simple well-seasoned and juicy cheeseburger made with American yellow cheese on a fresh toasted bun. The crowned king of burger towns is pretty serious about giving people what they want and keeping the scene diverse, and you know what? Amen to that. For a taste of the bigger burger, Texas-style, check out these five burger joints.
There’s a page of salads that sound pretty good, but those who go to Christian’s Tailgate voluntarily flip right past it because after the salads comes the AWARD-WINNING BURGERS, and the AWARD-WINNING BURGERS are, well, nothing short of divine. The Bacon Bacon Burger, for example, is not just a catchy name – the patty incorporates chunks of bacon throughout and it’s also topped with bacon with optional cheese. The Country Fried Bacon Burger, however, is the one that draws the most attention, served as a half-pounder layered with country fried bacon and onion rings.
Lankford Grocery Store & Market, a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives-approved restaurant, is best known for serving up the definitive best burger in town, but the subsidiary question that immediately pops up into diners’ minds as soon as they arrive is: well, which burger? The obvious first choice would be the old fashioned burger, a classic goodie topped with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion; but then there’s the Grim Burger, which impressively stacks a mound of mac’n’cheese, jalapeno, bacon and a fried egg on top of a beef patty, or the wasabi burger, which throws in the cold burn of wasabi sauce, sweet pineapple, red onions and swiss cheese into the mix. A little packed Houston institution since 1938, when Nona and Aubrey Lankford established a small fruit stand, which then grew to encompass a grocery store at their current location. The first burger dates back to the ‘70s and now it’s a local legend!
Hubcap Grill feels less like a restaurant and more like an adventurous friend’s backyard with the grill fired up. The original location looks a bit like a shed, with plastic tables and chairs scattered about the front, while the burgers are always a little unique and a little more daring than their competitors. The Quadruple Heart Clogger lives up to its name, cramming a grilled weiner, bacon and cheese on top of its patty; the Frito Pie Burger heaps with – you guessed it – Frito Lay chips, chili cheese, grilled onions and jalapenos. Weirder is the Sticky Burger smeared with crunchy peanut butter, American cheese, grilled bananas and bacon. The Texas BBQ Burger, in true Houston form, features the regular fresh patty plus barbecued sausage, topped with barbecue sauce, cheddar, jalapeños, plus crispy fried onions.
If the charm of the hamburger is in its utter simplicity – perfectly seasoned ground meat, a nice lean to fat ratio, juicy but not greasy – then the Little Bitty Burger Barn deserves a spotlight on this list. They definitely have options for the burger eater who goes all out, like their BBQ cheese burger, chili cheese burger, jalapeno cheese burger and others, but the classic meathead (in the most endearing sense of the word) will be thrilled with just a regular half pound cheese burger. Two patties, perfectly grilled on a fresh toasted bun, each topped with a slice of good old American cheese, with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles and smeared with your condiment of choice? There’s nothing better than that.
Speaking of counter burger joints that truly cater to the burger eater that goes all out, The Counter on Washington Avenue is a chain that really gets people to taste the difference – in a variety of ways. There’s certainly enough burger spots that deliver fresh ground meat, but not many offer market-fresh, locally sourced, sustainable, antibiotic and hormone free protein and all local produce and cheese. Not only that, The Counter allows diners to specify exactly how they like their burger, beginning with a base of beef, organic bison, ahi tuna, natural ground turkey, vegan veggie or natural chicken breast; moving on to 16 types of cheeses and 24 types of homemade sauces.