In an effort to capture a snapshot of the culinary adventure that is Austin, the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance is putting together a citywide dining guide. From barbecue joint to Brazilian steakhouse, food truck to fine dining, Austin has it all, and the discerning palates of the AFBA are highlighting the best the city has to offer. As luck would have it, I have been asked to tackle the iconic American classic – the hamburger. If you are new here, Tim and I have been trying a new burger almost every week for several months now, thanks to his “I don’t know what to make of this” burger bucket list. We go out to eat just once a week, so I don’t want to deprive him of his guilty pleasure ;).
Healthy living blogger making burger recommendations? As odd as it may sound, I’ve been known to indulge in the occasional burger, and as I always say, no foods are off limits…it’s all about moderation 😉. And I must say, that I no longer believe that burgers are just burgers and that they all taste the same. I suppose you can say that I’m developing a shrewd taste for the American classic ;).
Drawing on personal experiences, polling my AFBA cohorts, and collaborating with my husband, the self-proclaimed burgervore, here is a list that is sure to get your mouth watering.
Second Bar – One part of the Congress Austin trio, Second Bar + Kitchen provides its patrons with “Natural American” cuisine as well as an assortment of craft beers and artisan cocktails. They only have one burger on their menu, but that’s all they really need. The Bar Congress Burger is one of those burgers almost too pretty to eat. Boasting a patty made of house ground brisket & chuck and grilled to perfection, this culinary specimen is served with shallot confit, gruyere, fresh veggies, horseradish pickles and house made condiments. And if that weren’t enough, Second Bar offers additional toppings including seared foie gras, over easy egg and crisp pork belly. A word of advice, though – rather than spending the extra coin dressing your burger (it’s really not necessary), upgrade to the black truffle pomme frites. These fancy fries are coated with a fine dusting of Grana Padano and accompanied with a small tin vessel of truffle aioli for dipping. Whether celebrating a special event or just fueling up before a night on the town, this is a burger perfect for any occasion.
Second Bar + Kitchen: 200 Congress Avenue, Austin TX 78701; 512-827-2750; Open Sunday through Thursday 11a – Midnight, Friday & Saturday 11a – 2a
24 Diner – Located on the bustling corner of 6th and Lamar, 24 Diner is breaking the typical diner mold. Although its name may cause one to envision a seedy roadside eatery, it is anything but. Its menu is filled with “chef-inspired comfort food”, and they’re incorporating some of the finest produce wherever they can squeeze it in. If you can withstand the temptation to order their Chicken and Waffles, they’ve got a great selection of burgers from which to choose. One of the highlights, without a doubt, would have to be their Bacon Avocado Burger. Adorned with charred poblano & smoked aioli and served on a pain au lait bun, this burger beauty is a flavor spectacle.
24 Diner: 600 North Lamar, Austin TX 78703; 512-472-5400; Open 24 hours daily (except Wednesday 1a – 6a)
Hopdoddy – Established in 2010, Hopdoddy serves burgers made from the freshest, all-natural ingredients. They craft a quality product and they’ve got the lines to prove it. The folks at Hopdoddy are grinding their own meat, cutting their own fries and baking their own bread…pretty impressive if you ask me. There is no “To-Go” option here. To ensure you have the best experience possible, they only allow you to dine in. You can never go wrong with The Classic (a cheeseburger with all the trimmings), but if options are what you’re looking for, they’ve got those, too. Not only do they offer a multitude of gourmet toppings, but in addition to the traditional beef (grain fed OR grass fed) patty, you have your choice of buffalo, tuna, turkey, or veggie. Really looking to splurge? The Primetime with Texas Akaushi beef, Brie cheese and truffle aioli is not one to disappoint. Be sure to get there early or prepare to be tortured by the tantalizing aromas of bread baking in the oven and meat sizzling on the griddle as you wait in line.
They also have a great veggie burger!
Hopdoddy Burger Bar (south): 1400 South Congress Avenue, Austin TX 78704; 512-243-7505; Open Sunday through Thursday 11a – 10p, Friday & Saturday 11a – 11p
Hopdoddy Burger Bar (north): 2438-A West Anderson Lane, Austin TX 78757; 512-467-2337; Open daily 11a – 10p
Counter Cafe – With a little help from Texas Monthly’s list of greatest hamburgers in Texas, this diminutive diner has developed quite the reputation. It can be a tight squeeze sometimes when eating here, but the discomfort is quickly forgotten when the food arrives, regardless of whether you’ve ordered the renowned Counter Burger or one of their other delicious offerings ranging from homemade biscuits and gravy to grilled Texas quail. The burger is cooked on a grill, finished under a broiler (to get the shredded cheese nice and melty), and served on a perfectly toasted sweet sourdough bun. They prepare their burgers medium-rare so be sure to specify otherwise if the sight of pink ground beef gets you squeamish. Counter Cafe isn’t doing some fancy, off-the-wall burger. The Counter burger is familiar, yet exquisitely delicious.
Counter Cafe: 626 North Lamar, Austin TX 78703; 512-708-8800; Open daily 7:30a – 4p
Mighty Fine – If simple is what you’re looking for, then look no further. Burgers, fries, shakes, and a couple of hotdog options and you’ve got the entire menu at Mighty Fine. The burgers are thick and meaty and assembled with skillful precision – a little bit of each component in every bite. Gourmet toppings? Fancy sauces? You won’t find any of that here. What you will find is a classic Texas burger prepared and delivered with world-class service. Their hand-dipped shakes, made from Texas’ finest – Blue Bell ice cream, are rich and flavorful, and their strawberry lemonade is able to refresh even on the hottest of days. There’s just something so comforting about these burgers that keeps me coming again and again.
Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes: 5601 Brodie Lane, Austin TX 78745; 512-735-2800; Open Sunday through Thursday 11a – 9p, Friday & Saturday 11a – 9:30p (3 additional locations in the Austin area)
For other locations: visit here
Kerbey Lane Cafe – This is a place that’s dear to my heart, as it is the first restaurant I dined at upon making the move to Austin. The eclectic, fun, and laid-back decor and ambience really embody what this city is all about. Here you can order breakfast, lunch, or dinner 24 hours a day. From buttermilk pancakes, omelettes, enchiladas, and burgers to various vegan and gluten-free options, there’s something for everyone. While I normally order their pancake of the day, something came over me one day, and I did the unthinkable… I deviated and ordered their hippy burger. After that first bite, I knew I had found my favorite veggie burger. At this point, I’ve had my share of horrendous to mediocre to pretty good veggie burgers. There are many reasons that set this one apart from the others. The ingredients taste fresh, and the flavors work together so harmoniously. You get the heat, the smokiness, and even a slight sweetness, but what I truly loved is that it wasn’t overly salty as most veggie patties tend to be. Of course, the curious inner chef in me just had to ask what the ingredients are so that I can try to recreate it at home. It has poblano pepper, jalapeno pepper, red onion, tomato, garlic, textured vegetable protein, long grain rice, sliced mushrooms, and various spices. Just look at the thickness of this patty….this is one amazing burger.
Kerbey Lane Cafe: check out their 5 locations here.
Contigo – For some reason or another, food always seems to taste better outdoors. But I firmly believe that had I eaten this burger anywhere (inside or out), it still would’ve been delicious. Somewhere between a peaceful ranch in the countryside and a modern day tavern, Contigo is serving their fresh take on bar food every night of the week as well as a Sunday brunch. Although their burger may look small at first glance, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just another one of their small plates. It is definitely filling and will be sure to satisfy any burger craving. Topped with premium ingredients, served on a housemade challah bun, and escorted by a perfectly cooked side of fries, this burger matches flawlessly with the rustic surroundings in which it is served.
Contigo: 2027 Anchor Lane, Austin TX 78723; 512-613-2260; Open Sunday through Wednesday 5p – 11p, Thursday through Saturday 5p – Midnight; Sunday brunch from 10:30a – 2:30p
List of additional places that are on our radar:
- Black Sheep Lodge
- Casino El Camino
- Snack Bar
And our burger journey continues…
Did I miss any? How did I do? 😉 For fellow Austinites, what are some of your favorite burger spots?
For those of you not in the ATX, what’s the most memorable burger you’ve ever had?