Over the past five years, the Houston hamburger scene has been elevated by some of the young hot-shot chefs. There’s even a $35 foie-gras-topped version. That doesn’t mean we’ve abandoned our old favorites. We’ve just expanded our repertoire (and our girth).
Here are some recommended burger joints (and one hot dog spot):
Freshly grilled burgers, nicely charred hot dogs, hand-cut, skin-on fries and crazy good shakes are all you need to know about this small Houston-born chain. Salads, grilled chicken and grilled vegetables provide options for those watching their waistlines. Find the nearest location at becksprime.com.
Bernie’s Burger Bus
This bright yellow bus (actually, there are three) is hard to miss. The from-scratch menu of Angus burgers includes the Homerun with applewood bacon, cheddar, chipotli aioli and a fried egg. It’s unbelievably good and worthy of a side order of hand-cut fries with house-made ketchup. Find the next stop at berniesburgerbus.com.
The Burger Guys
Gourmet sandwiches featuring produce and meats supplied by local producers make this burger joint a culinary gem. And what do we mean by gourmet? Take the Saigon: pate, daikon, carrot, jalapeño and sriracha-lime aioli. Or the Sydney: cheddar, a fried egg and grilled pineapple. Gussied-up hot dogs, sophisticated takes on fries and onion rings and whimsical milk shakes (some breakfast cereal-flavored) add to the appeal. 706 Main, 713-223-4897; 12225 Westheimer, 281-497-4897.
One of the city’s best burgers served in dining rooms filled with flat-screens TVs? We’re in. The excellent bar food (oh, glorious Frito Pie), fair drink prices and laid-back spirit make the Heights and Midtown locations favorites on game days. Now, if they could just do something about the parking. 2820 White Oak, 713-863-1207; 2000 Bagby, 713-527-0261; 7340 Washington, 713-864-9744.
This isn’t your backyard dog. These dogs are Texas-sourced and topped with house-made condiments such as sriracha ketchup, jalapeño relish and roasted garlic aioli. Even the buns have a fine pedigree. We can’t get enough of the Ol’ Zapata Dog, which is topped with bacon, muenster cheese, caramelized onions, tomatoes and jalapeno relish. Find the next stop atgooddogfoodtruck.com.
The problem with Hubcap is that it ruins lunch forever. I mean, how can you go back to eating Subway after you’ve had downtown’s best bacon burger? The patties are shaped by hand from fresh beef. The buns are just study enough to absorb the ooze. The condiments are neither skimpy nor overloaded. The ambiance is trailerlicious. Try one of the crazy combinations – Frito Pie Burger, the Triple Heart Clogger or the Greek Burger – that ooze goodness. There’s often a wait, so pack your patience – and cash, if you’re headed to the downtown grill. There’s an ATM on-site for plastic devotees. 1133 W. 19th, 713-862-0555; 1111 Prairie, 713-223-5885.
Hidden in the townhome canyons of east Montrose, this homey little spot serves up some of the city’s best burgers and tots. The kitchen also produces some pretty good tacos and chicken-fried steak. Texas-size breakfasts lure early risers. 88 Dennis, 713-522-9555.
Little Bitty Burger Barn
Hand-made, never-frozen beef patties are the signature of this burger joint that really is little bitty. Grab some friends and take the proprietors’ Double Dare. Finish a 2-pound burger topped with eight slices of cheese, jalapenos, bacon and barbecue sauce – as well as a whopping serving of fries – and you get a T-shirt and your picture placed on the Wall of Fame. 5503 Pinemont Ave., 713-683-6700.
Alison Cook contributed to this report.