Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Austin >
Jul 29, 2008 06:20 PM

Casino El Camino

After watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives last night, my mouth was seriously watering during the Casino El Camino segment.

I searched the board and find mention of Casino in many threads, but didn't find one dedicated to it.

I have never been, but will definitely be making a visit shortly. What do you guys think? Does it live up to the hype as one of the best burgers in Austin?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think it does. The place has a very particular feel, and it will certainly not appeal to everybody (it's primarily a bar), but I think their burger is delicious. Lots of other people do, too, and you will WAIT for that burger if you get there at a busy time.

    1. Yes, it lives up to its hype. 12oz (3/4 lb) of seasoned ground chuck griddled to medium rare and served on a bun just sturdy enough to hold up to all the juices unless you let it sit too long. All for less than $7, though I don't think it comes with fries. It's an excellent burger, but it wouldn't be so legendary if it cost $10.

      The toppings can be hit or miss. I don't care for the Buffalo-style burger, covered with bleu cheese and hot sauce. But I do like the one with pepperjack cheese and a bunch of serranos.

      When you go during non-peak hours, there are usually decent drink/beer specials, too.

      3 Replies
      1. re: KPeff

        Funny, the Buffalo-style is my favorite.

          1. re: brattpowered

            Double ditto.

            Scarfing one of those things at 1:00 in the morning with a large beer buzz is pure joy.

      2. I'm glad that everyone else has had great experiences. FWIW, the last time my officemate and I went there, we both got burgers and we both had some harsh indigestion problems afterwards.

        Of course, my other officemate loves the place.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pwang

          The BF and I have been salivating at the thought of the serrano pepper burger and the fries with the chile verde. Cannot wait to have a super weak moment and go try this place after watching the show!

          1. re: chowinginaustin

            That's the amarillo burger and it is excellent, although occasionally the serranos need a more thorough seeding or something, I've occasionally had my burger go from enjoyably hot to blindingly, hiccup-inducingly magma hot, which kind of ruins the meal. I usually ask for easy serranos to try to prevent that. If you have vegetarians in tow, they have a veggie sandwhich and a roasted eggplant sandwhich respectively that are usually pretty good. And yes, it's a rocker bar. If you are offended by having to listen to loud Voidoids and AC/DC while you eat, get it to go. Also, wait times can be an hour or so depending on how busy they are.

        2. Dang, missed that episode. Will have to see if my Tivo catches it on the repeat. I wonder how they possibly filmed in there. They must have turned the lights way up? That place is DARK. Dark meaning you can barely see your food dark.

          I think it's really funny that they chose that place to - it's a gothic-esque vampire bar with devils on the walls...generally the guy at the bar next to you was wearing either a nose ring or giant loop earings that stretch your ear lobe out. Now it's going to be Ken and Muffy from Tulsa who just had to go there after watching the food network special.

          The good thing is - Austin is a pretty hospitable place, and I know when I walk into the place wearing a polo shirt and jeans and order a blue moon at the bar, nobody looks at me funny.

          5 Replies
          1. re: LakeLBJ

            It was also featured in a few scenes of Friday Night Lights, and it definitely looks different with some lighting.

            1. re: cibodivino

              I've not seen the episode of Diners,Drive-ins and Dives that recently featured Casino El Camino but the effect was writ large on the sidewalk outside the bar last night.

              A group of about 6 folks were gathered around the entrance daring one another to go in.Madras shorts and lots of flax,helmet head hair dos,buzz cuts,Sperry Topsiders.Ann Taylor was there in spirit if not in form along with her good friend Tommy.

              We stroll in past the gawkers,get carded[!] and make our way back to Hell's Kitchen.There's been a kerfuffle in the cook staff,the old-school guys are gone and there's some new bucks chopping and frying.There's still plenty tattoos[de rigeur]and piercings and the lads look good and bitter.Some things never change.

              It's midnight-ish which in Casino's heyday would've meant a good hour wait.Since the heyday has been done for a 6-7 years or so the wait is right at 20 minutes.

              I order for our group who are all from out of town and excited to be eating at the legend.I've always enjoyed the "Chicago"which is Casinos take on the classic Bacon Cheeseburger.Standard topping are Romaine Lettuce,Tomato, Bacon and Cheddar.I love the Shallot mayo and always order it on anything I eat here.It makes a great dip for the House Cut French Fries as well.

              This rendition is fine.The beef is properly cooked med rare and is of good quality.The bacon was probably good when it was cooked this afternoon but is plumb tuckered at this point in the evening.The tomatoes and lettuce are decent enough pub level toppings.

              Paul,the owner is from Buffalo New York and takes pride in the Buffalo Wings being the genuine article[Franks Hot Sauce].These do not disappoint.Crispy from the hot fat,nice and vinegary and no drumettes which is how I prefer it.The Celery has been nicely sliced but the carrots are behemoths that've just been sort of hacked at here and there.The Bleu Cheese dressing is good,not Pure Luck by any stretch but tart and fresh tasting.

              The Blackjack is Casinos nod to the vegetarian units among us.It's a gargantuan hunk of Eggplant,marinated and grilled with a slab of cheese on top. It's served on a bun with olive tapenade ,lettuce and tomato.I take a bite for the sake of eating the occasional non meat item and it's good enough for a sandwich with no meat.

              The housecut french fries are their normal near-perfect.The fat in the fryers has some miles on it and that's good as the potatoes are crispy and mealy at the same time.An ode to the double dip is the standard here.

              You should consider getting an order to go and walking down to Parkside.Order a very tasty "bar steak" [Sirloin Tri-Tip]and enjoy it with some Casino Fries,measurably superior to the ones served by Parkside.

              Service.Service at the bar is non-existent.The three bartenders manage the neat feat of looking really busy and accomplishing little.Our cocktail girl on the other hand is dynamite.A bleach-y headed rockabilly vixen she's all smiles and years and years away from being jaded.She approaches chirpy but crests just shy.

              Mid-meal,local icon Leslie joins our group and he's feeling philosophical.I've never had meaningful interaction with this gentleman before so it is nice to hear him weigh in on the topics of the day.His ruminations on plotting one's life course and heaving yourself through the rough stretches sound carefully thought out.

              Then he leaped through the air in his Houston Cougars cheerleader outfit and did a pretty respectable Chinese splits on the tiles of the patio.

              Knowing that that's going to be the highlight of the evening we make our departure.

              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                Thanks for the great post! I really enjoyed the colorful descriptions!

                1. re: scrumptiouschef

                  Great review. That's an interesting factoid about the wings. CEC is the ONLY place in town I will eat wings and they are the best in Austin, IMHO.

                  1. re: scrumptiouschef

                    Too funny! My only question is, did the madras and Ann Taylor set ever overcome their fear and come in?

                    Because of economic changes in the diva household, I've been on the home cooking board a lot and haven't been eating out much except for bahn mi and inexpensive tacos, but I pop my head in here once in a while. Good to see there is still some witty commentary here.

              2. Really? So many good reviews over this place? I had heard for years how good they were and finally got a chance to go with friends last year. Total disappointment. I can't believe this place is touted as having the best burgers in town. Yeah, maybe after you're drunk and looking for greasy food they do seem pretty good. But as far as I'm concerned you can get a better burger at The Roaring Fork. Or P. Terry's. Or Sandy's. Or Dirty Martin's. Or . . . you get the point. The serve is so Soup Nazi-ish but the food isn't worth the attitude to me.

                5 Replies
                1. re: italyvespa

                  P Terry's is quite possibly the worst, most pathetic, sad little burger I've ever had.

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    I second that emotion. What's the deal with P Terry's? I will say I've never tasted a better hockey puck in my life, but it wasn't what I ordered, namely a burger.

                    1. re: eldog

                      I'll take the homemade mayos and fresh meat at Casino over the thousand island dressing that gets splooged over every little gray patty at P. Terry's any day. Sounds like someone got spurned by one of Casino's surly cooks.

                      My second favorite burgers in town are oddly from the go-bites food stand next to Emo's on red river. Blue cheese and leek sliders. So good.

                    2. re: amysuehere

                      Re: P. Terry's. i agree totally. We went there with some friends for a 'burger and I had a very pronounced "wtf" attack.

                    3. re: italyvespa

                      Not a fan of P. Terry's either, nor of Dirty Martin's, nor of Sandy's - but those are a different breed. I like the Roaring Fork's B.A. burger and love CEC's - don't need to be drunk to crave it.