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In The Buns

the only reason i heard about this place was a localiter deal the other day.
apparently, i've been passing it by when out on errands.
it's at lake creek and 183, in the plaza with the HEB and 24 hour fitness.
and, it's right next to los reyes, but they only have a banner so it's easy to miss.
it used to be the NYC style pizza place that went out of business a while back.

the decor was off-putting.
there is chain-link fence surrounding the grill area.
the tables are waaaaay too small for the 4-top they want to be.
and there are some hideous metal sculptures protruding from the tables.
they are not really using their space and layout wisely, but maybe that will change.

but, it's really about the food.

there is a real lack of decent burger options in the area.
moonie's, to me, is awful, and i can't understand why people like them.
i heard this place is from the screaming goat people, but i didn't see anything verifying that.

despite the goofy name, this is a flavorful burger with a nice char.
they put the cheese inside, so it's in essence a "stuffed" burger.
the bun was not too sweet (i know some people hate that).
it was griddled and shone proudly with a slight sheen of butter.
the veg came on the side, to keep them crisp and fresh:
butter lettuce (nice touch), onion, (red!) tomatoes, and a few pickle chips.

the combo is quite a good deal at $8.50 compared to a la carte prices:
choose any style burger, any side, and a fountain soda.

you get a lot of options:
patties include not just beef, but ground turkey, chicken breast, tilapia, portobello, and veg burger.
buns include white, wheat, or gluten free.
the set-ups include frito-pie and a fajita choices in addition to your usual suspects.
the sides run from onion rings, fries, cheese fries, and sweet potato fries.

today, i went with the bacon bleu.
the bleu cheese was inside, and so each bite of beef had a taste of cheese.
i didn't have to worry about it sliding off or sticking to the bun.
the bacon was two pieces, freshly fried so they were nice and hot and crispy.
there was also a cajuny remoulade of some sort, which gave it a nice kick.
my side was the onion rings, and it was a very generous portion considering it was the combo.
it came in its own basket, and were not too thick both in onion slices or breading, which i hate.

the fountain drinks are really special:
in addition to dublin dr. pepper, they have 5 maine root flavors, too.
i had a little of the "pink drink" (tasty cactus lemonade) and then some cream soda.

next, i wanna try the mushroom swiss.

this place is on the way to so many places where i run errands.
so, i am sure i will be hitting it again.
and, i told some of my co-workers.
i'm hoping it stays around.

here is a pic.
there were more onion rings; i just couldn't help myself.

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  1. In addition to a compelling description of the food that makes me want to give it a try, I have to say I enjoyed your e e cummings-esque prose.

    1. Yes indeed - our local mailbox newspaper had a small article detailing the origins. My first thought was "REALLY? Another burger place within 5 miles???" but your write-up makes it sound fascinating. Guess we'll be hitting it up soon!

      1. Okay, went for lunch, and...you were spot on!

        The "4-tops" look to be the same size as the regular tables. I rather liked the 'metal art' on the tables (they are metal 'roses' and the leaves and petals are made of spoons and forks) and serve as a nice hanger for order numbers. The decor wasn't anything special otherwise.

        I ordered the bleu cheese bacon with onion rings as well, although accepted the turkey burger when offered. When it was brought to the table, the guy knew it hadn't been made correctly (made with cheddar instead)...he asked if he could get it fixed. At first I declined, but he said he could 'make it better' and asked if I'd like to try it with the chipotle ranch sauce, as well as bleu cheese crumbles. He took it back to the kitchen and was back in seconds.

        Let me tell you, that was one of the tastiest burgers I've had in forever. The burger itself was juicy and flavorful, the veggies where fresh and crisp, the bacon was freshly fried, thick cut and cooked to perfection. And that chipotle ranch sauce was the 'icing' on the bun! The onion rings were not to my taste (they need just a little pepper) but were cooked perfectly and practically melted in the mouth.

        Husband ordered a plain turkey cheeseburger and curly fries. He ate all of it and said "That was a good." which for him is the highest food praise possible.

        It was moderately busy for a Sunday afternoon and we plan to eat there somewhat regularly so hopefully it will stay around.

        1. I went last week and had the bleu cheese bacon burger. Mine had very, very little bleu cheese, and the fact it was "stuffed" meant I seemed to only get to it in the very middle. That said, I was extremely impressed with the generous amount of smoky thick cut bacon, which as Dina already pointed out, they fried for each burger. I really enjoyed the sweet potato fries and Maine Root soda. I'm sure I'll go back. Oh, and I didn't hate the metal art roses in the middle of the table, but they do obstruct your view of your dining partner... very weird placement.

          1 Reply
          1. re: stephanieh

            thanks to careyana for explaining what the darn sculpture things are for!

            i've never had maine root fountain sodas and wow, they blow coke and pepsi away.

            bummer that you did not get a lot of bleu cheese in your bites.
            wonder if you can request your cheese on top instead?

            the place was totally dead on a saturday afternoon, so i hope the word gets out.
            there is just not a lot nearby, so this is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

          2. A co-worker and I hit it today at lunch. I had a bacon cheeseburger, maine root black cherry soda and some grilled veggies as my side. It was a really nicely done burger, done quickly and well, and I have to also commend the tasty bacon. I'm advocating for this place around my workplace now as it was very quiet there at lunch (Monday though).

            6 Replies
            1. re: cpencis

              Also went for lunch today. I thought the burger was quite delicious (got cheddar burger). Fries were pretty bad--frozen curlies. Sculptures annoying. But burger was good enough to bring me back....and Dublin DP on tap is nice.

              1. re: cstrombe

                maybe the onion rings are the thing to get-- they did not seem frozen.

                1. re: dinaofdoom

                  I saw the cook pulling frozen onion rings out of a big bag when I first walked in :(

                  1. re: cstrombe

                    really?! i am surprised. they did not taste fried. oh well.

              2. re: cpencis

                that soda is so delicious.

                my co-worker and i were also commenting on the grilled veggie option, as it's a nice change of pace.
                what kind of veggies did you get?

                1. re: dinaofdoom

                  My veggies were onions, mushrooms, squash and zucchini done on the griddle / grill. Came very hot and a little watery from the veggies giving up their juice, but were flavorful and made me feel a little better about going for bacon _and_ cheese on my burger. I enjoyed em. I agree that the fries were standard fare curly fries (I wouldn't call them awful... just ubiquitous).

              3. I just went today, I had the mushroom swiss burger with onion rings. I quite liked it. I was disappointed that the lettuce was just a piece of iceberg, not tender delicious butter lettuce as stated, but that's fine. My burger was bursting with swiss. I would normally not get cheese, but since it's inside the patty I went with it. It kept the whole thing nice and juicy. My bottom bun was quite soggy by the end of things.

                The onion rings were fine, but unseasoned. I wish they had a little more flavor.

                My favorite drink from the Maine soda fountains is half vanilla creme and half black cherry. It is SO TASTY.

                I'll be back when I want to try that artery clogging frito pie burger or a tilapia burger. But I do like Moonie's as well, but I specifically go there for the turkey burger. It is soo good. Their regular beef burgers are not special at all, but the turkey burger is deliciously peppery and still juicy. Plus, I like those packaged battered fries.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mpeas

                  i went again last night and got the turkey burger with the bleu cheese and bacon set-up.
                  the butter lettuce was there, so maybe they didn't have any when you went?
                  the onion rings were not as good as before, and they are definitely frozen but not horrible.
                  i used some salt and pepper because i loathe ketchup.
                  next time maybe i will ask for some of that chipotle sauce on the side.

                2. Will all their burger options, why oh why don't they have a beanburger? (I mean a San Antonio-style beanburger, with Fritos and refried beans and chopped onions and cheese, not some vegetarian patty). Right now the only places around Austin I know that serve such are Hardtails in Round Rock (which makes a pretty darned good burger, btw) and EZ's, which makes an abomination of a beanburger with a wheat bun and black beans. Oh, the humanity!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: addlepated

                    hrm, never heard of this, but my co-worker told me the screaming goat and in the buns people are from san antonio.
                    you should suggest it!

                    1. re: dinaofdoom

                      If I ever make it out of my South Austin comfort zone again, I will... just discovered Hopdoddy the other day and was very impressed with their burgers!

                      Take it from me - a gooey beanburger is a gastronomic lullaby.

                  2. they are on adealio today:
                    $7 for $15, limit 2 per person, expires in 3 months.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dinaofdoom

                      Also of note in the Dealio thing is this fantastic tidbit of news: "In The Buns now is also testing their new fresh-cut fries".

                        1. re: cstrombe

                          I asked for the "fresh cut fries" after reading your post and was told I was the first person to do so. They are on the right track with the fries, just not quite there. The oil needs to be a bit hotter and they need to drain the fries better. They were swimming in oil last night when we tried this place for the first time.

                          I ordered a cheddar cheese burger cooked to medium and hubby ordered the bacon blue, medium. They definitely got the "medium" part right... cooked through and pink in the center. I normally order medium rare but chose medium so hubby would try my burger.

                          My impression of the cheddar burger was that it was OK, there was plenty of cheese and, while I was looking forward to the butter lettuce, we were served iceberg.. The bun was too larger for the burger. Hubby was less enthusiastic about his Blue Burger ... couldn't taste the blue cheese and his bacon was too chewy and not at all crisp. I tried a center bite and I concur. Either the blue cheese was very, very mild or just not much there.

                          I'd go again if someone else chose to but I wouldn't go out of my way to dine here. While the people were very nice, I dislike the ambiance and was hoping for something a little more interesting. It was fine but nothing more IMHO.

                          1. re: Rene

                            I did fail to mention that the pricing was extremely reasonable.

                        1. went back today because it had been a while.
                          got take-out to see if it held up on the way home.

                          got my usual because it's just so darn good--
                          beef patty on white bun, with bleu cheese, bacon, and chipotle ranch.
                          the burger fit the bun, so i think they've made some adjustments.
                          the bread held up to the juices of the meat.
                          also, the texture of the patty was better.
                          i think the last one i had was mixed too much or something.
                          got a large, pretty-green-for-iceberg piece of lettuce.
                          guess the butter lettuce is a thing of the past.
                          it's fine though, because the iceberg is nice and crunchy.

                          i had a $12 deal from localiter, and the combo is $8.50:
                          any burger set up, any side, and a drink.
                          so, i got both a side salad and a side of grilled veggies ($1.65 each?).
                          the salad was basically burger toppings with a few croutons.
                          if they changed the salad ingredients, they could have delicious healthy menu options.
                          but right now, it's really bland and boring, so you should skip it.

                          but! the grilled veggies were a surprise.
                          summer squash, peppers and onions, and mushrooms, etc.
                          there was just enough olive oil and salt, plus a little flavor from the grill.
                          when i use my other localiter deal, i will get two grilled veggie sides.
                          they were really that good, and i will incorporate them into leftovers.

                          still not a huge fan of the decor.
                          the tables and chairs are not comfortable.
                          it's also a little on the hot and smoky side.
                          the pizza place in there before also had the same problem.

                          i really like the burgers so i'll keep coming, even if it's just take-out.
                          and the maine root black cherry is my favorite soda now.
                          it's not too sweet, and actually tastes like fruit.
                          the pink drink is my second favorite, because it's so refreshing.


                          styrofoam always makes me feel guilty, but, the take out packaging held up well.
                          they wrapped the burgers in foil so it didn't fall apart on the drive home.
                          there was also paper on the bottom so the onion rings didn't sit in their own grease.
                          i forgot to decline the napkins, plastic cutlery, and ketchup so there's some more guilt.
                          the grilled veggies were in a pretty decent sized styrofoam container with a plastic lid.

                          1. went back today for the first time since the fall.
                            it's under new ownership.
                            gone are the stuffed patties, and quality.

                            it's such a disappointment when locally-owned places deteriorate.

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: dinaofdoom

                              i work near there and i agree too bad they changed owners

                              1. re: nytexan

                                it had a pretty good start, food-wise.
                                now there really aren't any good burgers in the area.

                                the changes the owners made to the decor are even tackier, if you can believe it...
                                (10+ fake potted palms with lights, strange flowerpot toys, lots of digital picture frames with photos of eagles and the american flag, etc.).

                                1. re: dinaofdoom

                                  I think the interior changes are an upgrade--they put in nice booths. A definite upgrade over the too-small tables with the annoying fork sculptures. I did not even notice the fake plants.

                                  But agree that they should not have changed the burger. Burger still good I think, esp. for this area, but was better as a stuffed burger. Now the cheese just goes on top. Still better than moonies, and they do have fresh cut fries, and the Maine Root soda fountain. But less interested in going back due to the burger changes.

                                2. re: nytexan

                                  this is a drag. My office just moved near here a couple of months back, and i haven't tried it yet. I'm sure i still will, but not looking as forward to it.

                                  1. re: TroyTempest

                                    if you need some other lunch ideas in the area:

                                    los reyes, next door to in the buns, has serviceable mexican (and ridiculously huge margaritas in goblets).

                                    there is also a moonie's nearby, which doesn't do it for me burger-wise, either.
                                    (183 and anderson mill, in the plaza with reale's, which wich, etc.).

                                    la tapatia is there, with super cheap breakfast tacos and combos, and pretty decent all around mexican food. plus the beloved creamy green salsa, a.k.a. crack.

                                    1. re: dinaofdoom

                                      I had the carnitas at Los Reyes after work one day. They were pretty good. They also had these giant drinks called "coronitas" which were basically a large goblet of margarita with a bottle of beer upside down in it held on by a special plastic device that hung on the rim. As you drank the margarita, the beer would fill up in the glass, or so it looked. I decided to pass on that.

                                      1. re: TroyTempest

                                        i made the mistake of ordering one during a staycation lunch when i had errands to do afterwards. those goblets are HUGE.

                                        if it's not too far from your office, definitely hit up the noble pig and stuffed cajun meat market on 620, near lakeline. sooooo good.

                                        1. re: dinaofdoom

                                          Very familiar with the noble pig, one of my favorite lunch spots

                                          1. re: TroyTempest

                                            i really need to check out the add-on. mmmmm meat.

                                            1. re: dinaofdoom

                                              you mean the little deli sort of thing next door?

                                              1. re: TroyTempest

                                                yes, exactly. i read they took over an additional space next door and added a bunch of stuff.

                                                1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                  I think the deli next door is closed temporarily. They were doing some construction it seems and when I went by last they had the windows covered. Not sure if they've opened back or not. I would suggest calling if you going just for that.

                                                  1. re: ssouth

                                                    good to know. i would be visiting to check out that part.
                                                    hope it didn't close before i had a chance to shop there!

                                                    1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                      They were selling some of their meats, deli style. My guess is their taking that out to add more tables. Maybe they will still offer the deli meats somehow. With summer coming, they won't be able to rely on the outside tables.

                              2. Do they still have the Maine Root soda? I thought the burger was okay but nothing to make me go back.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Rptrane

                                  they do, and something called doppelganger (to replace the dublin dr. pepper).
                                  but, when i was there, something was wrong with the syrup to carbonation ratio.