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"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today ": Best Hamburger in Austin

I reckon burger season is almost upon us.

After reading the following article off the "A Hamburger Today" blog- http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2...

about Fran's and Dan's rival burgers I'm compelled to revisit the question that's been debated for years in Austin.

Everyone has their favorite whether it be an old school burger with Miracle Whip from Mike's Pub or a fancy lad version from Mulberry or some other pinky hoisting wine bar around town.

Where do you stand on the Dan's vs. Fran's debate?

What's your favorite old school burger?

Where do you go when you want an aged balsamic this n that fancy burger?

What went wrong with Casino's burger? Did a hippy buy the bar or did Casino himself just get old and faded?

Any good burger and fry combos for under 5 bucks in town?

What place gives you the least bang for the buck a la Dirty's egregious overpricing?

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Mike's Pub
108 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78701

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    1. re: tom in austin

      Yep, that post had a good year+ long run and I harvested a lot of good info off of it.

    2. Funny you should bring this up. I just recently had a Dan's hamburger for the first time in a long time, and it occurred to me that I liked it better than either Mighty Fine or Hat Creek. Skinny burger, grease that soaks into the bun, and meat that actually just tastes like meat instead of 15 herbs and spices. Given the current burger craze, I'm surprised the old-school guys don't get more credit. The Mrs. insists that Fran's makes an even better sandwich than Dan's, so we'll probably test that out on another occasion.

      2 Replies
      1. re: gilintx

        There is a difference. In fact, I believe there's even a difference from the Dan's south to the Dan's north. In general, Dan's are much greasier. Frans has that nice bit of grease that soaks into the butter-basted bun. DO NOT - repeat - do not go for the "new" sourdough or jalapeno bun. They detract from the burger and stick to your teeth (yuck).

        1. re: amysuehere

          OMG, the jalapeno bun makes the burger even better. This is a Sheila Partin bun. The same bun at Hill's and the Roadhouse in Bastrop. Both named the best buns in their town. You have got to at least try them. The sourdough is good but I like the jalapeno bun better. Thousands of people cannot be wrong..

      2. I've been heading to the Black Sheep Lodge for burgers lately. Nice half pound patty cooked to your liking and a side for $7. They do charge extra for bacon, cheese, etc so you can add a couple dollars to price if you like lots of things on your burger. I always get tater tots for the side and have never tried the fries.

        Pros: Good burgers, nice beer selection and a comfortable vibe.
        Cons: Parking is absolutely terrible.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ssouth

          I had my first P Terry's burger last week. Pretty tasty for not much $$. For fancy, I like what they serve at The Roaring Fork.

        2. i gotta stand by burgertex. those koreans are something else...

          went to your moms burger off c chavez... not too impressed. was indie as all get out tho, must give em that

          aint frans and dans pretty much the same? dans off manchaca gets pretty swamped tho....

          mikes pub is pretty good, def cheaper and less wait than casino. and if casino has gone downhill then i weep a tear for humanity.

          i wish i knew a place that gave you burger and fries for under 5. dun dawgs does burger fries and drink for 5, that might almost be the same thing

          also scrumptious i plan on doing the riverside crawl soon, i just need to get the pockets right! also plan on checkin out bay seas, if its in the 23 i must learn about it! tho i havent hit up palacio yet either...

          1. tried the Smokey Goat burger at Red's Porch on monday. Goat cheese, bacon, fried onion strings. half lb burger that was PINK inside, didn't even have to ask for it that way. very tasty, although i was already a bit full from the awesome amazing goat cheese stuffed jalapenos, really like this place. they have several other weird-topped burgers, and then the "old reliable" for ppl who prefer the basic.

            6 Replies
            1. re: NirvRush

              Border burger at Red's is just like Casono's...only hotter. Seriously, hubs and I like it h.o.t. hot and this thing blew the tops of our heads off...but we ate every bite. This is a place where I'd say go for the sourdough or better yet jalapeno bun and upgrade to o-rings (although the fries are pretty darn good, so if you each got one and shared, that'd be the bomb)

              1. re: amysuehere

                Where is Red's? I love HOT and can't wait to try that Border burger!

                1. re: Chicago Wine Geek

                  Red's Porch. It's on South Lamar almost to Ben White across from the Golden Corral (sorry for that reference, but you'd never find it otherwise). There's a field with a Chicago hot stand on the same side of the road just south of it. It's behind a bank and the bank's parking lot. There's a big red sign out front, but otherwise no indication it's there. Upper porch is no smoking and parking is HORRIBLE, but the view up top is wonderful.

                  http://www.redsporch.com/

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    Thanks so much! I am back in Austin next week and can't wait to give it a try.

                    1. re: Chicago Wine Geek

                      went to Red's again today. Hubs tried out the Border burger (although he forgot to add guac to it, friend's recommendation). that sucker was HOT! he ended up having to scrape some of those serranos off. pretty tasty, i could see the guac tempering the heat a bit. i got the Fancy SOB burger (smoked mozz, carmelized onions, mushrooms) and subbed goat cheese for the mozzarella. YUM!!!! loved it. i got mac and cheese for my side, don't bother. it was bland and un-cheesy. but those stuffed jalapenos.....my god they'e amazing. it's Russian roulette on whether you're going to get a hot one. 3 were blazing, 2 not so much. only other grievance besides the sub-par mac/cheese was that the burger was requested med-rare, but it was medium. still juicy and good though, i heart Red's. oh yeah, bloody mary is spicy and good as well.

                2. re: amysuehere

                  We went yesterday. He had the border burger and LOVED it. He let me try it and it was juicy, delicious and H.O.T! I doubt I could have finished it but I liked it. It was worth the drive from CP.

              2. I had a delicious plain-old-style but high-quality cheeseburger from the bar menu at Lambert's the other night. Ten bucks for a big juicy patty, nice bun, cheddar, a couple nice leaves of lettuce, sliced tomato and onion. That's just how I like it--like my dad would have made it on the grill. Tasty, good ingredients properly cooked and served with classic toppings.

                The waffle fries were the best fries I've had in Austin! Hot, crunchy, perfectly salted.

                5 Replies
                1. re: storefronteats

                  Who's had the Saturday only burger at Four Seasons of late? A recent visit found the patty a bit drier than I like. The old style of drizzling duck fat into the grinder whilst feeding the trimmings from the week's butchery seemed to have gone by the wayside.

                  Still a very good burger with top quality bleu cheese and good bacon but not as legendary as ones I've had in the past.

                  I'm trying to work my way to the burger portion of Annies menu over on Congress but I can't get past her iconic Italiano sandwich.

                  When Al John's closed I was at loose ends for a top notch classic Italian sandwich on a homemade loaf and Annies more than fits the bill.

                  Best sandwich in Austin.

                  1. re: scrumptiouschef

                    I think Four Seasons is offering a Prime Burger every day now so it is no longer as exclusive as before. We get their sliders more frequently now as they are delectable with just the right amount of pickle.

                    I, too, have wanted to try the burger at Annies--let us know if you do it.

                    1. re: Carter B.

                      I tried the burger at Annie's last night. It was merely a standard burger. Not an overwhelming amount of flavor, the bun was ok. I'd give it a C+ and not worth the $12.

                      1. re: Carter B.

                        Carter
                        Wish I would've warned you off that burger at Annies.I tried it a couple days ago and it was lousy.

                        The discrepancy between the size of the bun and the patty was laughable. A huge, soccer ball sized bun with a patty the thickness of a playing card jammed somewhere in it.

                        I knew there had to be a weakness on her menu somewhere and we've found it.

                        Also, have you noticed how fast she turns her staff over? Just when you get used to a worker POOF they're gone. Makes me wonder what the working environment is like.

                        We quit going to Woodland for that very reason. A very good burger can be found there but so many workers have fled for greener pastures we decided to spend our loot elsewhere.

                        1. re: scrumptiouschef

                          No worries, I would have tried it anyway. :) My proportions of meat to bun sound better balanced than yours. It was typical gourmet size (6 oz?). It was also medium/medium well which is not how you should server a burger that you grind you own meat. So either they aren't grinding their own meat or like to overcook their product.

                          As for staffing, I find service in Austin to be generally bad constantly so I rarely judge a restaurant here for that. I blame the steady supply of cheap university labor. The only time I hold on grudge on service is when someone that I know is a regular staff member does something terrible--like how they treated my party at Asia Cafe which I now boycott (which was a story I related on another thread).

                          Anyway, the sum for this thread is the burger at Annie's should be avoided.

                2. my neighborhood burger fix is crown and anchor. 4.50 for a hamburger and fries (maybe 5.25 for cheeseburger). also - cheap beer, great selections.

                  1. i went to your mom's today and agree with glorpisgod - i think their menu and the potential of what the descriptions offer is a lot better than the actual product. they've only been open 3 weeks, so maybe it will get better.

                    my favorite burger in town is served at mulberry. it's pricey at $14, but well worth it. it's made with pancetta, gruyere, tomato and topped with a fried egg. absolutely to die for.

                    other favorites include the aforementioned black sheep lodge and burger tex - however, only the burger tex on guadalupe. the rest don't have it down quite like that location.

                    texas monthly's top 50 burgers in texas states the burger at the counter cafe is way up there, but i've never tried it. anyone?

                    1. Hut's on Sixth Street serves fantastic burger choices and REAL fresh-cut fries that taste like potatoes. (Unlike those "coated" fries at Opal Devine's that the gen-xer's and UT slobs adore) A few years ago, the Statesman chose a bunch of young Dell geeks to judge the 50 best burgers in Austin and Hut's came in LAST! I fired off a letter criticizing the paper for using people who grew up on Mickey D's fake food and they published it.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Robot Meister

                        ...you know huts isnt that great though, right? cant blame the dell kids lol

                        1. re: glorpisgod

                          here's a second to glorpisgod's comments!!

                          1. re: exit53

                            And a third. I despise Hut's.

                            A couple of weeks ago, we tried Jack Allen's Kitchen in Oak Hill and I have to say, that was a really, really great burger. I'm not sure the weight, I'd say 1/2 lb? I had the hickory version and the bun was slightly sweet and soft, good meat to bun ratio, nice thickness, pink but not so pink it is mushy and falls apart. I opted for the mayo on the side and didn't use it (I hate mayo on burgers, but thought I'd get it just in case). I think it had cheddar, hickory sauce (sweeter than what I think of when I think of BBQ sauce), bacon and pickles. Not 100% sure about that though as it was a few weeks ago.

                            Jackalope also makes a really, really solid burger. Their Caesar burger is definitely my favorite burger in town. Again, a good bun to meat ratio, cooked about medium (can't remember if you can get it cooked to order, I think you can though), topped with a pile of Caesar salad. There's a really nice crust on that burger as well and super flavorful meat.

                            1. re: foodiegal71

                              Went back to Jack Allen's Kitchen last night and got the hickory burger (Fat Jack?) again. We don't think the burgers are hand pattied, but seem to be made in house, so maybe they just have a mold. Still as good as the first time. This time we got the guacamole to start the order too and both agreed it's the best we've ever had. A little different, (think pepitas and cojita cheese) but brilliant none the less. It's made to order!

                              1. re: foodiegal71

                                The guac at Jack's is solid but it's not made per order. It IS made several times per shift but not in the tradition of El Zunzal where the avocado is skinned when someone places the order.

                                Haven't tried the burger cause I can't get past the quail app which is big enough to serve as an entree'.

                                Who would've ever thought food that good could come from the Z Tejas guy?

                                Something tells me Jack is consulting his son, the chef of Odd Duck, on deliciousness issues.

                                Just a guess.

                                What are some other good burger joints in Oak Hill?

                                -----
                                El Zunzal Restaurant
                                642 Calles St, Austin, TX 78702

                                1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                  Well, damn, I was told by someone (not affiliated with the restaurant) that it was made to order. It's still awesome, at least the batch we had the other night. I'll be interested to test the consistency in the future. I just really like that place. The service is good, the people are nice, and the food is really solid. I'm planning to stray from the burger on the next visit. I think...

                        2. re: Robot Meister

                          i propose they have us apple employees do it, for balanced journalism.
                          you know we like to "think different" and all that.

                          all joking aside, our cafe kicks out real flame-grilled burgers that are really good.
                          the only other options around here are riata bar and grill, which i also like.
                          otherwise, you have to drive for a little bit to elevation, five guys, mighty fine, terra etc.

                          back to the burger...
                          the buns are sweetish hill, which are not my fave, but they griddle them with a little butter which makes almost anything better as a general rule.
                          the patties are made with grass-fed beef, so are on the lean side, but are rather tasty without needing a ton of spices.
                          that and hand-cut fries made in house for about $6.

                          actually, i am off to get one now!

                          1. re: Robot Meister

                            You've got to be kidding. I'm all about nostalgia - Hut's burgers, to me, are glop. I'm not trying to be antisocial...I actually like the atmosphere, the historical pics, and whatnot.. Don't waste good calories on a burger here.

                            Robot Meister is a spam-bot.

                            1. re: rudeboy

                              My only draw to Huts was (ages ago) they were the only ones who did a pineapple burger. Now that I have Boulevard grill's chicken pineapple burger on those sweet wheat buns and Texas toothpicks, I've never looked back. Tourist trap, absolutely.

                              1. re: rudeboy

                                "Atlantic City Publishing Company" hmmm. What the heck is their interest in Huts, I wonder...

                                1. re: rudeboy

                                  Went to Hut's for the first time in about 2 years. I was horrified that the patty appeared to be preformed and possibly cooked from frozen. It had that telltale sign of a slightly crisp outer ring on the perfectly round patty that usually indicates it was shot out of a machine or the cook was lazy and used a large biscuit cutter for form the patty.

                              2. Current favorite "old school" burger would be Ross' Old Austin Cafe. Their old flat top must be well seasoned. And they have hand cut fries.

                                Hideout Pub has an amazing burger they'll do medium rare for you, and it's grilled. Theirs are on the sweet style bun. It's one of the best I've had in a long time, and could probably take care of a Casino El Camino craving.

                                I don't have a favorite fancy burger. I'll have to put on my fancy shoes and go try some.

                                -----
                                Casino El Camino
                                517 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

                                Ross' Old Austin Cafe
                                11800 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753

                                1. I love the Austin Land & Cattle Wednesday night happy hour burger (I think it's $5 or 6?). If I'm feeling flush and in north Austin, I go to houston's for the $13 cheeseburger. Both places grind the meat fresh every day and the buns are fresh. My favorite part about the Houston's burger is that they put shredded cabbage on there instead of lettuce, which soaks up grease and lends a bit of fiber to an otherwise, unhealthy meal. Plus it's super dark in there so no one can see just how messy my face and hands are when I'm plowing through that thing.

                                  1. You're going to think this is totally lame, but I recently had the turkey burger at Hyde Park and LOVED it. Very nicely seasoned, not too heavy in the belly, an appropriate bun. YMMV.

                                    1. Had a bacon cheese burger at Freddie's Place on Sunday. It was great. Hand formed 1/2 lbs patty, lots of bacon, on a homemade bun. The onion rings are probably my favorite in town.

                                      -----
                                      Freddie's Place
                                      1703 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704

                                      1. I went to Casino El Camino Friday for the first time (Hey I still haven't been in Austin that long!). I found the rather enormous (3/4 pound?) juicy and flavorful, but the bun left me cold-I like 'em toasted. Ergo, my 2 fave burger places: Phil's and Moonies.

                                        Casino reminded me a lot of the Vortex in Atlanta.

                                        I am now dying to try Red's, good find.

                                        -----
                                        Casino El Camino
                                        517 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

                                        1. Oh lookie! The Statesman has a best burger poll with lots of Burger Porn!
                                          http://www.austin360.com/food-drink/b...

                                          1. The burger landscape in Round Rock is pretty dim. Little Red Wagon has a very nice 4.99 double, fries, and drink special for the value shopper. Honestly, my favorite burger in Round Rock comes from Short Stop. I grew up on Short Stop in SE Texas so sentiment may play some role there.

                                            I still love Hat Creek for the skinny burger fix in Austin. Dan's and Fran's are definitely different and I much prefer Fran's.

                                            I am still looking for a hole in the wall dive bar with some TV's and a delicious burger for non network sports viewing in Round Rock if anyone has any suggestions.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: El General

                                              El General - you should try Hideout Pub, off Mo-Pac near Parmer. That wouldn't be too far from RR, def a hole in the wall and a huge grilled burger on a sweet bun that they will do medium rare for you, if that's your thing. TVs too.

                                              1. re: stephanieh

                                                Yes, I saw that on this thread or another and it is on the list.

                                                1. re: El General

                                                  There's a $20 for $10 coupon for The Hideout on The Lunch Deal today.

                                                  http://www.thelunchdeal.com/

                                                  I was on the fence but I just bought one. Thanks!

                                            2. so hit up black sheep lodge and reds. gotta say reds burger was superior, tho black sheep lodge isnt bad (and i think has cheaper beer? not sure tho)

                                              that border burger is for real tho, i got it on whole wheat and the guy was like 'you shoulda gotten the jalapeno bun,' so ill have to try that some day.

                                              1. i would normally post this in the groupon thread but...

                                                hat creek has gotten some love on this board, and it's the 4.17 groupon deal.
                                                $5 for $10 of food (everything but alcohol).

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                  since when does hat creek have alcohol?

                                                  1. re: TroyTempest

                                                    oh, i dunno. it just specified food only, and not alcohol... maybe it's just standard verbiage for everything?

                                                    1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                      They do not serve alcohol, although I think that it would be nice if they did serve draft beer, at least at night. And turned down the phophorescent lights. Much different burget than Phil's....they do have cheddar and free jalapenos, my favorite combo.

                                                2. Dans all the way, small cheese burger. Huts and PTerrys are also wonderful.

                                                  1. I tried Your Mom's burgers the other day and I enjoyed it, wasn't my favorite but it was good. It more just inspired me to make my own cheese-stuffed burgers at home. They're pretty pricey ($7.00-$8.00 for a burger alone, another couple of bucks for fries and/or a drink). I know they haven't been open very long either, but they seem to have some consistency issues. Sometimes they're out of bbq sauce, or onion rings, or tomatos, or their fries are over-cooked, or they don't put the same amount of cheese in the burger. I'll give them another shot eventually, but still... not my favorite.

                                                    I work right down the street from Phil's Ice House, so it's definitely one of my go-to burger places. This is where I go if I want a semi-fancy super flavorful greasy burger that makes me feel like I'm going into cardiac arrest. Their sweet potatoe fries are the best as well. Decently priced ($7.50 for a burger and fries) and I like the fact that they have mini-burgers available because their regular sized burgers are HUGE. I still haven't tried Hat Creek burgers, which opened up down the street on the other side of my workplace a while back. I think I would kind of feel like a traitor against Phil's if I ate there, but I am curious...

                                                    Now - Mighty Fine. It's just so... pure. That's the best word I can think to describe it. I can eat Mighty Fine any day of the week and never get sick of it. It's simply just a good burger with no pretentious notions. Organic, hormone-free, freshly crinkle cut fries, and I don't know if anyone else has noticed but there's something about their plain American cheese that is amazing. Best American cheese I've ever had. Let me put it to you this way: right now I'm home sick running a 101.9 fever with an upper-respiratory infection and I managed to polish off a 1/2 lb Mighty Fine cheeseburger last night and ALL the fries with no problem what-so-ever. I could go for another one right now, even though the though of all other food makes me want to gag. Also, their strawberry lemonades are great!

                                                    Almost forgot, the burger at Roaring Fork. I have no idea what all the hype is about. The only thing worth noting about this burger is that it's huge. I really don't have any respect for food that is just ridiculous, and there's no way you could eat this burger without taking it apart and re-assembling it somehow. The meat is good, but seems a little too lean for a burger. Plus, there's way too much of that meat. I like a certain ratio of meat to cheese to toppings to bun and this was just a stupidly copious amount of meat. Blah.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: TheSprinkler

                                                      I may be old timey Austin, but I still have to go get a burger from the only Shortstop still in South Austin at William Cannon and Manchaca. Cheap and tasty. Good fries too. Great for the budget and I promise you, you will go back. To go only..

                                                      1. re: tuckspop

                                                        Finally made my way down to Blacksheep Lodge on South Lamar. Good Bacon Cheeseburger, lightly handled beef, fresh bun, mixed greens instead of lettuce and a tater top option for starch. Not worth going out of the way for but if you're a south Austinite this is a good little beer/burger joint.

                                                    2. not great hours and a totally surreal pink and green tea room setting, but Bountiful makes a soild burger...one of my faves. They have this stuff called fries sauce. Ask for it on your burger if you want a west coast burger experience.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                        1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                          Yup...not a good thing on fries, IMHO, but I spent enough time on the west Coast to develop a taste for that sort of thing on a burger...although the classic Texas combination of grilled bun, yaller mustard, Del Dixie pickle chips, tomato, lettuce, American cheese, and, if you are lucky, jalapenos and bacon, is unbeatable on a fried burger.

                                                      1. Jeffreys - I realize it is a pricey burger but I do believe at happy hour it goes for 10 dollars, and this thing is most definitely worth it. Its unbelievably rich and meaty and the condiments it comes with are fantastic. It tasted a little different like it wasn't all beef so I asked and they use lamb in the patty along with beef. The fries it comes with arent bad either.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: sarahp

                                                          Oooh, thanks for the tip. I've been curious about the Jeffrey's burger. I will definitely have to check it out.

                                                          1. re: txgrl99

                                                            Sleeper burger alert: After the Quack's guy ran the French Place location into the ground it was really up in the air as to whether or not the building could be turned into a viable restaurant.

                                                            Transformation continues apace with a new owner, possibly from NOLA [ ? ] and a new name: Cherrywood Cafe.

                                                            The burger is hand patted and comes in one of two sizes. The small is plenty big enough, roughly a quarter pound, griddled and served with standard toppings [mayo,mustard,lettuce,pickle,onion and tomato]. Toppings are standard issue.

                                                            Red corn syrup is available as a topping for the 8 year old diners.

                                                            The meat is of a good quality. Probably 80/20 and cooked to a medium with no sign of an angry cook having rode the patty with his spatula.

                                                            The bun is the disgusting, diabetic-before-30, treacle version that's currently the fashion in Austin.

                                                            I'm certain there's other bread available in the cafe. If you don't like what is basically a donut as a hamburger bun you may want to inquire.

                                                            The fries are hand-cut, double dipped and served hot, which is sadly noteworthy in Austin. They're not likely to replace Railroad Barbecue as top in the area but they are right respectable.