LET ME GET ONE THING OUT OF THE WAY UP FRONT. THERE IS A DECENT CHANCE THAT YOUR FAVORITE BURGER IS NOT MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE. HOUSTON IS A LARGE CITY WITH AN EVEN LARGER APPETITE. OUTSIDE OF WRITING A BOOK, I COULDN’T POSSIBLY COVER ALL OF ITS NOTEWORTHY AND DELICIOUS BURGERS. HOWEVER, THIS IS MY IDEA OF THE PERFECT HOUSTON BURGER EXPERIENCE. FROM WORN OUT OLD DIVES TO HIP COCKTAIL BARS, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND EVERY BURGER IN THIS LIST. JUST DO TRY TO PACE YOURSELF.
So what makes a good burger? It’s like asking what makes a perfect day. For me it boils down to three ingredients: bun, beef, and cheese. Don’t get me wrong, throw a fried egg or some bacon in the mix and you’ve got my attention. But a well-cooked patty with melted cheese on a toasted bun is a thing of beauty. That said, what better place to start than THE BURGER JOINT? Whether you stop into one of their two locations or catch the truck around town, this Montrose favorite is king of the simplistic burger. In the same vein of classic recipes and high-quality ingredients is the Heights’ newest burger attraction, BALLS OUT BURGER. The recently opened eatery serves up old school singles and doubles on locally sourced buns with a no-frills attitude. Pair one with a St. Arnold beer and an order of sweet potato fries and you’re in for a good time. If you find yourself uptown, save on gas and make your way to BUBBA’S TEXAS BURGER SHACK. Bubba’s is a dive if I’ve ever seen one. This literal shack, hidden under the Westpark overpass, is best known for its buffalo burgers. One of these bad boys with cheese, bacon and fried egg is a meal not soon forgotten.
Looking for a little more gluttony in your lunch? Look no further than the world famous BERNIE’S BURGER BUS. Voted Houston’s best burger by Houston Press in 2012, Bernie’s is an H-town institution. My recommendation is the Homeroom burger. Bacon, fried egg, caramelized onions, chipotle aoli, cheese, and beef sandwiched between a buttery toasted bun. Not quite messy enough for you? Check out LANKFORD GROCERY for a little piece of Houston history. This Midtown monument opened in 1939 as a grocery store and has been in business ever since. While they have over a dozen burgers on the menu, the king of them is the massive Grim Burger. The Grim consists of a huge patty, topped with mac & cheese, bacon, jalapeno, and a sunny side egg. Don’t be afraid to take half home, and always grab extra napkins.
Naturally, dives and food trucks aren’t for every occasion. Sometimes it’s important to class it up. If so, look no further than Downtown’s HEARSAY GASTRO LOUNGE. If you don’t mind spending a little more at this trendy speakeasy, order the Byrd. This magical burger consists of an Angus patty, bacon, friend egg, avocado, cheddar and mozzarella served on a sweet bun so good you’d eat it alone. As a finishing touch it’s served with a cup of the house “mac & four cheese.” This would be my favorite burger if not for the fine folks back at THE HAY MERCHANT.
Houston owes a great debt to Chef/Owner Chris Shepherd, not only for the culinary masterpiece that is Underbelly, but for the Hay Merchant and their Cease and Desist burger. Made from two beef patties smothered in cheddar cheese, topped with pickles, lettuce, tomatoes on a lightly toasted bun, the Cease and Desist is everything you want in a burger. Perfection via beef and cheese. Of course, that’s just my take. Whatever your burger preferences are, I hope you get out there this month and try some local favorites. Believe me, you will not be disappointed.