Hat Creek - A genuine burger
Headed there today for lunch. The walk-in is now open, albeit sparse. I walked up to a load of guys "perched at the ready" behind the counter and at the grill and ordered a small burger on wheat with jalapeño jack (wished I had seen the grilled onion option before I ordered, but oh well), loaded. No fries today, I've got a Halloween costume to squeeze into next week.
Everyone behind the counter was super-friendly and the owner even came up to chat me up for a bit. My goodness, that guy has a Cheshire grin.
Burger came out quickly and exactly as ordered. Wheat bun wasn't too sweet, which is the case a lot of the time and had a nice earthy flavor and was grilled (nice touch I always like).
Silly side note, I love the nostalgic checkered wrapper they come in.
Meat was obviously fresh formed and well seasoned, thick-sliced sweet red onion, "winter" tomato (but still red and flavorful) and a piece of lettuce that was too thin to survive the ride to work, pepper jack was a notch hotter than the run-of-the-mill and was a nice addition.
All in all, just a great straight-forward burger. Nothing fancy, just right. Will absolutely go back and try the fries the next time.
I love Hat Creek, much more so than P. Terry's or some of the other new-ish burger places in town. The burger patties are juicy and well seasoned. It's more expensive than a combo meal at Mickey D's but tastes a lot better, too. The owner, Drew, is a longtime Austinite. I seem to recall reading somewhere that he played sports for UT. Food is yummy, service is friendly. And their fries are hand cut daily, fried to order. They taste the most like homemade fries of any I've eaten in Austin (and I've eaten plenty). One order of fries is large enough to split unless you are super hungry. Solid choice for a fast food meal. Pics are somewhat blurry, except for the close up of the fries. Sorry, I'm a foodie not a photog.
I've been to the trailer all of once and I wasn't very impressed. Nothing special about the burger, a little on the bland side, and IMHO cost a lot for the quality. The fries were good and a friend had a shake that was tasty too. Granted I prefer thick patties, but I enjoy a good burger of any sorts. This place ain't all that.
I ate at the new restaurant a couple of weeks ago and had a similar reaction. Liked the fresh-cut fries, but the burger wasn't anything particularly special, in my opinion. The bun was the gummy, Wonderbread/Sunbream-style, which I don't like. The toppings were nice and fresh, but overall it was somewhat bland and plain tasting (I had a single meat patty with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, and American cheese).
Took my 2 teens last night...
Fries were very comparable to P. Terry's except they were more salty at Hat Creek.
Although the buns were toasted (Buttercrust Brand), they were flat and chewy by the time we got home.
Meat was good and I certainly appreciate the fact that it was never frozen.
All veggies were fresh and tasted great.
A few comments: as mentioned previously, there were quite a few people working there. One to take the order, one to supervise, one to cook the burger, one to toast the bun and a different person to wrap the burger as it came off the grill and another person to scoop the fries. There was only one table with about 5 kids at it and there were no cars in the drive through.
My son ordered a shake and he said it was creamy and good but he likes P. Terry's shakes better because they automatically do a double chocolate and it's much thicker.
My daughter ate 1/2 of her single meat cheese burger and said she like's P. Terry's better.
I spent $17 on one double meat cheeseburger, one single meat cheeseburger, 2 orders of fries, a shake and a bottled water.
It didn't blow our socks off but I'm glad they are in the 'hood and I hope they do well.
I went last night with a 9-year old panda in tow. I had the double burger, cheese and all the fixings. She had the single, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce. I had a vanilla shake and she had a cookies and cream (both Blue Bell).
The burgers were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. They were very meaty and held together well. Fries were comparable to P. Terry's - you couldn't forget that they came from a potato. Everything was cooked fresh for us, no heat lamps in use.
Offhand we ranked the burgers above P. Terry's, above Top Notch, above Hilberts. Right now it's my favorite burger in Austin. The panda concurred.
It was not busy at all. Now might be a good time to slip in and grab a burger in peace before the place catches on.
Hat Creek does not use grass-fed beef. It's Premium Gold Angus, a trade-name, which you can read more about here: http://pgabeef.com/About%20PGAB.htm
I have a feeling this place will get many comparisons to P Terry's, but in my experience, Hat Creek is better.
The Hat Creek burger is larger. It was well-seasoned, with a peppery bite. The meat was juicy and comes dressed like a TX burger should - lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and mustard. They have other options like grilled onions, jalapenos, and bacon.
The fries were hand-cut and cooked to a well-done crispy brown. I like them this way, you might not.
It was quite good, and the friendly service and convenience are enough to get us to return.