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Great Burger

  • r

So I made a huge mistake and read the Texas Chowhound board regarding the best burgers in Texas. I've tried many of them as I've lived in all of our major cities. Now I'm dying for a great burger that suits my taste.

Lucy's Boatyard was a favorite. It was juicy and flavorful with tons of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and goeey cheese... as I like it, add a few jalepenos. To be honest, I can get past a dry patty if all of the other flavors are there ... unless it's made on my grill (it must then be moist, medium-rare and able to stand alone).

I want a burger tomorrow that will hit the spot... can anyone tell me where I might find that northwest of town. I had the burger at Casino el Camino once, during Pecan Street Festival, and it came nowhere close to the descriptions I've read here. Of course, I attribute that to my poor timing and the crowd.

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  1. The charbroiled burger at Artz Rib House on S. Lamar is one the best in town, if not the best. Order it on the rare side of medium and it will arrive juicy, with a just right combination of fixings. Bon appetit! I've had the Casino el Camino's and was underwhelmed, probably due to the fact that it is too big and cannot be cooked without drying it out.

    8 Replies
    1. re: avi

      top notch on burnet road just south of anderson. made on an indoor charcoal grill.

      1. re: sbhlaw

        I loved Lucy's boatyard and was disappointed they couldn't make it. seems like that location is doomed.

        Anyone know what it's going to be next? It may already be open, I haven't been in that part of town in a long time.

        I still think Hut's has the best burgers and onion rings.

        1. re: amykragan

          I love Lucy's as well. Fortunately, it is coming back. Originally it was supposed to be this spring, but according to their website it will be later this year. I agree that the burgers are tasty, and I love the green chili cheese fries, significantly better than Shady Grove.

          1. re: Lola_Tx

            Hey, Lola!

            I thought they were completely changing the concept... and I can't find info on their website other than the delayed opening.

            Agreed on the green chili cheese fries, with the burger and a draft beer or two... a wonderful Sunday afternoon!!!

            Please, do tell if you have additonal info.

            Thanks!

            Rene'

        2. re: sbhlaw

          I'm not sure that it is charcoal, but I think that it is a gas grill. I'll look closer next time I'm in there.

          1. re: rudeboy

            Top Notch is definitely charcoal, or at least was last time I was there. The bag was sitting out and everything. Quality burgers and fries.

            A little further northwest is Gabbi's Burgers and Dogs at Burnet and Gracy Farms Lane. They make thick, flower-shaped burgers, fried on a griddle. I didn't order the cheese, but they are generous with the lettuce, pickles, onions, and tomato. The bun is very similar to the one used on the burgers at Z'Tejas, but I enjoyed Gabbi's burger more. Their onion rings were a pleasure to eat, probably due to the skill of the fryer. There may not have been enough onion flavor, but the batter was good enough that I finished the order without resorting to ketchup. I first heard of the place thanks to Ken W. ( http://www.chowhound.com/topics/393029 ).

            For what it's worth I'd avoid Hut's even if I were in that part of town.

            1. re: Knoblauch

              My curiosity got the better of me - I called and asked. You are correct, sir! I was going to repost, and then I saw your post before I could reply.

              Any place that uses real fire is a winner in my book. Knowing that, I will go to Top Notch immediately. I just went to Weatherford TX on a work trip and had a really good steak that was adverstised as "mesquite smoked." Wheeled right in and had an awesome ribeye drenched decadently in butter. It's called the Mesquite Pit if you are ever in that area.

              Hut's has good catfish and onion rings. Avoid the burgers.

          2. re: sbhlaw

            I haven't had a good burger at Top Notch since the owners turned the place over to their grandchildren. So sad, it was one of the best, and right down the street, I could get there on my scoot.

        3. I agree about Artz Rib House - best burger I've had in town in many years! But there aren't any fries there - just chips, potato salad or other bbq sides. I didn't miss the fries at all and the cheddar was very good.

          1. i enjoy the burgers at both Dirty Martin's (on the drag) and Nau's Drugstore off Enfield (near MoPac).

            There's also a little place called Ski Shores right on Lake Austin that has a good one called the "Border Burger".

            Nuthin' fancy...... just delicious.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bloody hammer

              top notch is definitely charcoal. the first time i went there i saw the cook pour a huge bag of kingsford into the pit as i walked in. i knew i had found my place. i think charcoal grilling makes all the difference.

              my only complaint is that they don't melt the cheese on the burger as it is grilling, they put it on to the burger as they pull it off the grill and onto the bun. i like the cheese to be molten on the burger. when i ask the folks at top notch to melt it on the grill i sometimes get a dirty look. its worth it though.

              martin's used to be one of my favorites before they cleaned the grill and the city came down on them and made them start using preformed patties instead of a hunk of meat thrown on the grill from a box in the fridge by the cook like they used to.

              fran's is one of the best burgers i've ever had that's not off a charcoal grill. double meat double cheese is insane. perfect meat/cheese ratio. its one of the few burgers that is just as good with meat, bread and cheese as it is with vegetables and/or condiments.

              1. re: sbhlaw

                I bet that Top Notch doesn't like to get the grill all messy with cheese. Also, they put a generous amount of salt on the burger...you can ask them to hold the salt, because sometimes, it is too much.

              2. re: bloody hammer

                I am a huge fan of Ski Shores, and always jump at the chance when I am out in the 360/2222 area. Those are darn good burgers. I wasn;t all thAT impressed with Naus, and prefer Dirty's burgers for the drugstore style greasy spoon burger. Houston's still has one of the best burgers I have had in the city, but thats because you can order it medium rare. There is also a place called Bam's Roadhouse grill out in Lago Vista that serves stuffed hamburgers. Patties stuffed with your choice of blue cheese and red onions or hatch green chillies, bacon and cheddar, and then hickory smoked. Bam's burgers are tasty and definitely not your ususal burger, although it is off the beaten path.

              3. Being a sucker for a good hamburger, I couldn't resist the sign today at Hills Cafe on S. Congress which stated that their hamburger was the best in Austin according to the Statesman. Well, it would have been close if not for the bun which was a bit hard in the microwaved sort of way although it was obvious that it had been slightly toasted on a griddle. But the 1/2 lb. burger itself was delicious and juicy, charbroiled, and a perfect medium rare, as ordered ($7.99, including home style fries, which I substituted for mediocre onion rings for an additional 99 cents). The fixings were standard, the service not bad at all. Artz still rules!

                1 Reply
                1. re: avi

                  That's disappointing. I've always liked the Hills Cafe burgers because they're served on fresh, non-toasted buns. Hopefully it was just an off day. The same burger is served at The Tavern on 12th and Lamar (same owners).

                2. Rene has already tried it, but I’ll recommend to other ‘hounds the “Poodie burger” with green chiles and lost of melted Monterrey-jack cheese at Poodie’s Hilltop Cafe in Spicewood. I loved it.

                  Here are links to some older threads that discuss local burgers:

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/323720

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/373316

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/401505

                  Top Notch is my favorite (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/37331... ), of the thin, charcoal-flame-grilled burgers sold at independent drive-in or drive-through joints. The meat tastes good—I admit that I like salt—and the buns are perfectly toasted. They do a fine job with fries and shakes, too. To me, the plain hamburger at Artz is just “pretty good” (for details see: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32372... ). I’d certainly order a cheeseburger rather than their barbecue, though, on any return visits. I still want to try the burger with duck drippings, described by scrumptiouschef, that is served on weekends at the Four Seasons (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32372... ).

                  I finally tried the plain hamburger and the hickory burger at Dan’s Hamburgers. Because their burgers tasted like they were made with cheap, flavorless, pre-shaped, frozen patties, the hickory burger might be a better choice, if you can stand sweet barbecue sauce. I believe their burgers are griddled. The restaurant had run out of onion rings on both of my visits, which makes me wonder if their rings are truly delicious or just better than their so-so regular fries. The chocolate shake that I had was just average. Personally, I don’t understand the appeal of the burgers at Nau’s. It’s a trip down Nostalgia Lane, and the cost is low, but their burgers just aren’t very good (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32372... ). I feel the same way about the ones at Sandy’s, for that matter, but at least there you can get a decent frozen custard. Like nkurz and Nab, I like the relatively expensive skin-on fries and rich chocolate shakes, but not the burgers, at P. Terry's (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/388403 ).

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: MPH

                    Has Casino just been off their game lately, or was there some sort of turnover in the kitchen? Last two times I've eaten there, the burger has been dryed out -- a greyish, sad, grueling affair that I trudged through mostly out of nostalgia.

                    1. re: tom in austin

                      I had a similar experience. I raved to all my friends about Casino El Camino and was horrified the next time I visited and was met with an overcooked patty. They were my shining example of the perfect burger... I hope someone is just taking a vacation from the kitchen and will be back very soon.

                    2. re: MPH

                      55 MPH - I'm so curious about that name. Of course, I think of Sammy Hagar...

                      Anyway, a group of five decided to try Artz yesterday. Ach... the AC was out (and has been for about a week) and we were seated in the only five top in the place. I asked the gentleman who seated us if we could perhaps be re-seated near a ceileing fan or something... Not only did he put together the tables under the largest ceiling fan, he pointed a rather high powered shop fan our way. Very decent... I didn't suffer the heat at all nor did any in our party.

                      I'm pretty cautious when I hear the terms best, awesome, amazing, etc. as I 've allowed myself to be disapointed many times. I brought my crew simply expecting good.

                      WINNER!!! For the burger, anyway. We walked in and the place smelled of smoked meat (as we all did the rest of the afternoon). Of course, one had to order a BBQ sandwich and wasn't unhappy... I tasted their BBQ sauce, which was thin and vinegary and to my liking.

                      On to the burgers... really good. I think they get a ton of flavor from the grill. The tomatoes were incredibly fresh and flavorful, the cheddar was substantial. I did not order jalepenos this time as I really wanted to understand this burger. It was tastey, fresh toppings, not too large - just about right. I like it and will go again without hesitation.

                      We all ordered different side items and I think the Lays potoato chips were the faves. The others were mediocre.

                      Thanks so much for the advice!!!!

                      Rene'

                      1. re: Rene

                        I'm a big fan of ARTZ, especially the 'burgers and baby back ribs (NOT the giant beef ribs). But it seems that the place has physically deteriorated lately, though - unrepaired chairs, bad ceilings, and now no A/C. I know that ARTZ is a labor of love for its owner and have always assumed that it is not a gold mine. It deserves our support.

                    3. Rover's Pub (Jollyville near Spicewood Springs) has a great, non-greasy burger of several varieties. Among the best fries in town, too. My fav is the bacon-mushroom with bleu cheese.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pbr

                        At Rover's, you have to know how to order. Well done is horribly dry. I took a new biz partner there this afternoon for a burger and so... not impressed... but I LOVE ROVER's. It's a great place to hang out!!! Obviously, bacon-mushroom with bleu cheese will flavor it up A LOT!!! The pizza is so good... It's such a great place to just be who you are, or maybe who you wish to be.

                      2. Rene, this is not a burger post, per se, but FYI Mike Rypka, who was the chef at Lucy's Boatyard responsible for those signature burgers, has moved on to open his own concept, Torcy's Tacos. Some of the staff are old Boatyard cooks. His business is a first-class taco trailer, parked on S. First just south of the School for the Deaf. The tacos are great, for a gringo he can really rock the TexMex, and has been a winner at the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival several times. He also has a location in a convenience store on S. Lamar across from Half Price Books, just south of Phonecia, and they're opening a third location in a trailer where the old 6th St Artists Market was. I think he has some of the best tacos in town, great queso, salsa, etc. Maybe if you're nice enough to Mike he'll make you a burger!

                        1. I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Phil's (next door to Amy's Ice Cream on Burnet) in the northwest side of town. Downtown best burgers are to be found at Cedar Door, Roaring Fork, or Jo's on 2nd.

                          At Phil's, you can order from a menu of cleverly topped burgers, or get the straight-up deal. Either way, you're going to get a tasty burger with a home-made bun, juicy patty and yummy toppings.

                          The Cedar Door burger is respectable. The bun is home-made, and the accompanying waffle fries make the meal. At Roaring Fork, there is only one burger - the Big Ass Burger - a half pounder that comes cooked to order with chipotle mayo, a slice of roasted poblano pepper and thick crisp bacon. It's completely delicious, almost too big to bite, and definitely share-able.

                          The best-kept secret, and crown jewel of downtown burgers is Jo's. The bun is homemade in-house and a little sweet to counterbalance the seasoned patty. The meat is seasoned and grilled crispy on the outside, cooked to order on the inside - though I've had trouble getting them to make it as rare as I'd like. A burger ordered 'medium' came out fully cooked with no pink in the center. Mind you, it was still juicy and delicious but not 'medium'. They're generous with cool crisp lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Shannizzle

                            Hi Shannizzle,

                            Welcome to chowhound and thanks for sharing your burger recs. It may be that other 'hounds didn't mention Phil's as a "great burger" because they don't really like it:

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/93272

                            Personally, I've never tried Phil's. I have tried the burger at the Roaring Fork. I thought that it was bigger than it was delicious:

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/353192

                            I wonder if you would please give some details about the burger at the Cedar Door, like you did about the one at Jo's? You said that the one at Cedar Door comes on a homemade bun, with waffle fries. But what's the burger itself like? What made it delicious? Was it grilled? Cooked on a griddle? What about the toppings?

                            Plus, do you have any burger favorites away from downtown? Or are these your nominees for the very best burgers that Austin has to offer? We chowhounds are happy to trek extra miles for a truly great burger. I’ve already made a few road trips to check out options from the “Absolute best burger in Texas?” thread that inspired this one. Here's a link to it on the Texas board:

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/382777

                            Best,
                            MPH

                            1. re: Shannizzle

                              FYI, Jo's does not make their bun in house. I am almost certain it comes from the same place that does Phil's buns, and the bakery is in Houston.

                            2. If you can't make it to Casino El Camino and you want a great burger downtown, try Daddy's Bar and Grill. Most people I talk to (coworkers, friends, etc.) are reluctant to try it because it's still set up almost exactly like the Buffalo Wild Wings that used to be there. But I'm telling you, these burgers are solid. Angus beef, grilled over an open flame... the patty is a little less than an inch thick, usually. But what really makes it is the kaiser-like bun. I don't know where they get their bread them from, but they are my favorite I've had yet... they really make the burger stand out.

                              1. Mmm... now I haven't tried the burgers at Lucy's, but I must say, Hoover's has some of the best burgers I've ever tried. Their H2A2 burger is awesome! Their burgers are smoked so they have a great flavor and they're served on kolache buns. Waterloo Icehouse also has good burgers. I must say though, that the somewhat sweet bread makes the burger.

                                1. You can get a very poor burger, with flaccid fries, at Waterloo Ice House way out on Parmer. The tomatoes aren't ripe, they charge you for every little thing. With tip, I just spent $11 and only had water. I'm never going to eat there again.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                    We enjoy Waterloo on Burnet Rd.. The burgers are pretty good, service is great and the laid back environment are all a part of why we like it.

                                    We recently went to the Waterloo in Avery Ranch with a couple and a small child. We had hoped for something like Waterloo 360, similar to Burnet Rd., add a bar and a playground and a gameroom.

                                    No such luck. This place was like a playground that also serves food. For some reason, it didn't resemble the food at the other two locations (I think it is the same menu) and what was brought to our table only slightly resembled what was ordered.

                                    The service was horrible. I don't think that we will bother again. We were trying to accomodate the child situation but there are better ways to do that.

                                  2. If you're just looking for a really good burger, and not one of these huge constructions that you have to eat with a knife and fork, try Dirty's on Guadalupe. I've eaten there since the mid-60's and have never been disappointed. True, its lost some of its charm after the city made them stop flattening their patties on the sideboard with a spatula, but it's still a damn good burger. If you like bacon cheeseburgers, get the OT Special. If you're just looking for a good no-frills version, get the Large Cheeseburger. Don't forget the cheese tots or rings.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: gawain44

                                      Jo's on 2nd Street - Burger is great. Really great.

                                      Torchy's Taco's on S. 1st - gotta go - MPH 55, if you haven't tried please do. You're clearly Austin's great taco hunter and I'm interested in your report back.