There's no doubt about it, Houston is a burger town. There's something to be said for beef ground just so, perfectly grilled and placed between two halves of a bun. People might disagree on defining condiments (mustard versus mayonnaise), but we can all agree that burgers are quite possibly the best food on Earth. Curated from the massive selection of great burgers in town, here is - in no particular order - some of our favorite hamburgers.
We love not only Bernie's alliteration-heavy name, but also his fresh-ground Angus beef patties, the small-batch buns baked by a local company and all of his housemade condiments. The school-themed burgers - The Principal, The Substitute, The Bully, Detention - are served via three yellow buses plus a spot inside Reliant Stadium. If you see one of the buses roving around town, it's time to pull over and get schooled.
Various locations; 281-386-2447
It's not much to look at, and the ambiance is almost nonexistent, but once you get your basket of goodness (do try their hand-cut fries), everything else in the world just floats away. You will become one with your burger, which is just greasy enough, sandwiched in between a fresh pretzel bun and topped with all manner of ingredients, including onion rings, barbecue sauce, bacon, avocado, jalapeños and all the usual suspects. For city folk, we promise it's worth the drive to Spring.
16724 Stuebner Airline Rd., Spring; 281-251-4848
This casual, suburban family restaurant has some dangerously good burgers. There are no crazy ingredients, no extreme this or oversized that, just a good, solid bun, a cooked-to-order patty that melts in your mouth and lots of craft beer to accompany it. Sometimes, simple is best.
12640 Telge Rd.; 281-256-9223
The Burger Guys have a way of searing their Akaushi beef patties that makes them crispy on the outside and perfectly juicy on the inside. To experience the full effect, it's best to eat any one of their burgers medium or medium rare. There are toppings paying homage to various locales like Vietnam, Cuba and Australia, plus there are duck-fat fries, hand-spun milkshakes and cane-sugar soft drinks.
Tried and true, as long as a Beck's Prime stands, it will be one of Houston's go-to spots for burgers. The meat is ground on-site, cooked to order over a mesquite grill and served hot and fresh and usually very juicy. For those in a hurry, they're equipped with counter service and drive-thrus, though the burgers are best eaten immediately, if possible.
The best part about Fridays is not that the weekend starts soon after, but the once-a-week burger special at Rainbow Lodge. Each Friday, a different burger made from wild-game meat debuts, but only to a select few. There are a set number available each week, so getting there early is recommended. Variations have included elk, venison, buffalo and lamb belly, and toppings range from Texas cheddar to pico de gallo.
2011 Ella Blvd.; 713-861-8666
Every now and then, a "fancy" burger is in order. Bar Annie has the cure for that with a USDA prime patty smothered in smoked cheddar sauce and served alongside hand-cut fries. It's the best possible ambiance to enjoy a messy burger, and it wouldn't be out of place to wash it down with an impeccably made martini.
1800 Post Oak Blvd.; 713-840-1111
When the burger section takes up a significant amount of real estate on a restaurant's menu, they mean business. And what a delicious business it is, with toppings like jalapeño-bacon jam, balsamic red onions, pulled pork and housemade pickles. The burgers are plump and juicy and a perfect accompaniment to one of the many witchy craft brews found on tap.
1221 W. 11th St.; 832-649-3601
If you want a farm-to-table burger, here's where to get it. Meats are not only ground in-house, but butchered in-house as well. The cheese and vegetables come from local purveyors, and the pickles are a product of the restaurant's own work. Put it all together and you'll have the "Cease & Desist" burger on Underbelly's lunch menu. It's named as such after originally sporting the moniker "Double Double," due to its two-patty construction. However, this prompted In-N-Out Burger to send a cease-and-desist letter, as this is also the name of one of their burgers. The rest, as they say, is delicious history.
1100 Westheimer Rd.; 713-528-9800
It's a testament to Hubcap's legendary status that regular folks and foodies alike are willing to endure a sometimes one-hour-plus wait for these burgers. When the beauts do finally emerge from the bustling grills, they'll either be traditionally topped with tomatoes, lettuce and pickles or skewed toward the adventurous with peanut butter and grilled bananas. The downtown location has the vibe of an old-school dive, while the 19th Street one has plenty of outdoor seating, a jukebox and an impressive beer selection.