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What is Your Favorite Burger in Austin?

18 May 2009 6,422 views 68 Comments

This Friday, I’ll be joining the KGSR Late Show guys to discuss the hamburger trend in Austin. It seems that new burger joints are popping up daily in Austin and there was recently a story comparing some of them in the Austin American Statesman.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t eat hamburgers very often. I’ve tried TerraBurger on the drag, and of course Huts and Casino el Camino. My favorite burger in Austin is the Big Ass Burger at Roaring Fork. It’s the perfect size to split with a friend while enjoying happy hour drinks.

hamburgler305What are your most/least favorite burgers in Austin? What do you think is the secret to a really great burger? What about veggie burgers? Are the fries/shakes important in terms of where you get your burger fix?

  • P Terrys
  • Dan’s
  • Fran’s
  • Top Notch
  • Dirty Martins
  • Burger Tex
  • Shady Grove
  • Mike’s Pub
  • Whataburger
  • Hill-Berts
  • Mighty Fine
  • Five Guys
  • Crown and Anchor
  • Shady Grove
  • Billy’s On Burnet
  • EZ’s
  • Phil’s Ice House
  • Sandy’s
  • Hat Creek Burger Co.
  • Shuggies

I’m looking forward to your own feedback and experiences. Also — do you prefer grilled or griddle-fried burgers? Burger King or McDonalds?

Thanks so much, everyone. Please forward this to any friends/family/colleagues who might want to weigh in.

UPDATE (5/27):
Your Top Burgers (by positive mentions) were:
Casino El Camino
Phil’s Ice House
P Terry’s
Mighty Fine

Other mentions included: Galaxy Cafe for the turkey burger, Jo’s for a chicken sandwich, and Houston’s for the veggie burger.

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  • David Ansel

    My personal favorite burger in town is the Tex-Mex burger at The Tavern, and also available at Hill’s Cafe, which is owned by the same folks and I think has a pretty identical menu. It has jack cheese, bacon, grilled jalapenos and a “southwest dressing” which is just bbq sauce + mayo. I made one at home: http://bit.ly/JmMeX

  • KimG

    I LOVE burgers! I usually like the classic – meat, cheese, ketchup, mustard, tomato – P.Terry and Mighty Fine are great in that category. Going a little healthier – Austin Java has a great Turkey Burger with bacon & avocado and veggies. Mike's Pub tastes great because of the grease! So I only have that when I'm craving something to clog the arteries. Grilling burgers has great flavors but patties can get dry and have a cardboard texture to it. Safest would be from the griddle. Love Hut's for the juicy burgers and the variety and Wed. night buy one get one!

  • Marshall Wright

    I have a couple of favorites, but before I get to those, what I look for in the perfect burger is a combination of these things:

    1. Soft, chewy bun that is not dry and can hold up to the juicy meat and toppings w/out falling apart. (this might be the deciding factor)
    2. A not-too-thick all-chuck beef patty with the right combination of meat to fat (80-20 is perfect) where the meat is juicy and I can get a normal bite, not something that is so huge I have to eat it with a fork or get a cramp in my face trying to take a bite.
    3. Nothing too fussy. I like toppings and additions like grilled onions, bacon, jalapenos, etc. but my criteria starts with bun, meat, cheddar cheese and builds from there.
    4. I’ve found burgers cooked in restaurants tend to be better when cooked on a flat-grill vs an open-flame grill because they retain their juiciness better.

    Some of my Austin favorites are Counter Cafe (their bun is perfection IMHO); Mighty Fine; Artz Ribhouse South Austin Cheeseburger; Crown and Anchor.

    Really good fries do play a large part in what makes a good burger too. For that I think Mighty Fine has the best.

  • Mike S

    Mmmmmmmmm… Burgers.

    I’m an Casino Burger man, all the way. Their buffalo burger (wing sauce plus blue cheese, etc.) is painfully hot, but oh so good. And part of a burger is the atmosphere, which Casino has in spades. That’s why I can’t really get into the Roaring Fork burger, I think.

    I’ve been impressed with Phil’s burgers, but they’re not quite up to Casino’s. But I appreciate the selection.

    Fast food burgers? Whataburger all the way.

    Fries and other sides ARE important to a burger place selection, but if the question is “best burger,” the sides need to be weighed independently. Otherwise there’s too much variance, mostly ’cause so many places have such outstanding sides. (Waterloo’s tots, for instance, outshine their burgers. Yet I don’t even remember what Phil’s fries taste like)

    I look forward to hearing you on the late show. I’ve missed your past couple of bits.

  • Caren

    Perhaps not known for burgers but Trudy’s on 39th Street has a good cheezeburger AND they have a whole wheat bun, stone ground mustard and chipotle mayo and big wedge fries. Spring for a small side of queso to dip the fries into and a frozen margarita and for my money it is pretty awesome.

  • theeverydayfoodie.com

    Hey Jodi – there was a big discussion about burgers in Austin on the Chow.com board. I though the discussion about types of burgers was particularly interesting:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/608816

    Chow members are definitely a specific type of food enthusiast, but you might find something useful there.

  • halley

    Awww,I haven’t been eating burgers for a while-so I couldn’t tell you. But I def. prefer a burger king burger over mcDonalds. Best chicken sandwich is Waterloos – for next time.

  • Lisa

    Mother’s has a great veggie burger. It’s very flavorful!

  • Marcos

    Hut’s. But Fudrucker’s is #2. Yeah, I know, not a cool weird Austin Foodtouring worthy place, but good burgers nonetheless.

  • theeverydayfoodie.com

    I will be mocked when I offer this opinion but don’t care: My favorite burger in town right now is the original cheese at Red Robin. The burger is juicy and you can order it cooked medium rare. The bun is soft but supports the burger and I like their fries, although I’ll agree with Marshall that my favorite fries right now are at Mighty Fine.

  • Anonymous

    Fave: Big Ass at Roaring Fork
    Runner up: Phil’s
    Overrated: Sullivan’s; Huts

    xoxo
    Ilyse

  • Tim

    Best classic burger: the Allandale at Phil's Ice House.

    Best bar burger: the Crown & Anchor.

  • Joshunda

    My favorite chicken burger is at the Jo’s on 2nd Street. Really great sweet bun, there’s some ginger in it and it’s always delish!

  • Jason

    Given that I’m brand-spanking-new to Austin, I can only comment on the one place I’ve had a burger — Casino el Camino. I ordered their buffalo burger, rare. Instead of a pinkish reddish burger, I got a blackened/burnt spherical ball of what I could only assume was beef between two pieces of bread, with a drip of hot sauce and a dab of bleu cheese dressing. Based on the good things I had heard about the joint, I’d say this definitely falls into the category of OVER-RATED, and I can only hope for Austin’s sake (and mine!) that the city has better burgers to offer elsewhere.

  • Adam Norwood

    My favorite burger in town might be from Jo's (the downtown location). It's been hit-or-miss the past three times I've been there, and it's overpriced, but pretty danged tasty. I think they fold butter into the beef.

    Failing that, Dan's Hamburgers wins my "old school" burger joint award, Phil's makes some tasty burgers, and for a somewhat healthier (but drier) option the sirloin & kobe beef burgers at Hyde Park B&G aren't bad.

  • McKinzey

    If you’re looking for a little variety….Galaxy Cafe has the best turkey burgers and P Terrys has incredible veggie burgers. And no matter what kind of burger you do, sweet potato fries are the way to go. In which case Phil’s Ice House has the best fries (and good burgers too I hear).

  • Laetitia

    Love Phil’s and their sweet potato fries rock. Also love the cheeseburger at Sao Paulo, believe it or not!

    Players and Posse East are really awesome too… Tough call…

    To me, fries do count, it really makes the whole experience. I don’t like them soggy. Long thin, crispy….

  • Daniel

    Hyde Park Bar & Grill, the burgers were great and the fries were really good. I'd eat there more often if I could

  • NJA

    i make the best burgers. sorry, but it is true. ground bison, red onion, plus two not so ancient chinese secret ingredients. toaster buns and a nice think slice of mild chedder.

    sounds like a great segment – what was the fruit you had them eating that changed the flavor of the tarts?

  • Lisa

    All burgers are overrated, at least according to this non beef eater. Good luck!

  • Meredith

    I like the Tavern and Phil’s Ice House because they both have sweet buns and yummie fries. Phil’s has sweet potato fries which is a treat, as well as having a little sampler plate which comes with 3 mini burgers-each with their own toppings. I like PTerry’s too…but mainly because they have natural beef and it’s so close to my house. My favorite veggie burger is at the Dog and Duck Pub…topped with mushrooms and swiss.

  • Sarah

    I’m a big, big fan of Casino el Camino burgers, esp. the buffalo burger. As an added bonus, they have an awesome juke box.

    On the veggie burger front, I haven’t been really wowed by anything, but P. Terry’s are pretty good. I like that they use black beans and make them a decent size.

  • Mike

    On the veggie front (for taste, not meat similarity), Houston’s pretty much destroys everything.

  • Jeffrey

    Camino Casino and Shuggie’s Hamburgers (at the Trailer Park) rock the block!

  • Josh G.

    casino camino all the way

  • David W.

    I am a vegetarian, but heard that the Four Seasons hamburger (not on the menu) is great. For veg, Woodland!

  • Josh F.

    hands down Casino burger at casino el camino. ANyone says otherwise is a vegetarian!

  • BellaVerdiFarms (via Twitter)

    dirtys & Phils Ice House

  • TX Beef (via Twitter)

    Our staff favorites include Top Notch, Might Fine, Phil’s Icehouse, Sandy’s and Boathouse

  • Ben

    Best burger is Austin Land & Cattle on 12th & Lamar. Bar none. Also – Hilbert's double jalapeno cheeseburger.

  • Manatisalas (via Twitter)

    Casino el Camino on 6th street is an unpretentious dive that serves pretty good burgers

  • LisaisCooking (via Twitter)

    turkey burger at Hyde Park hands down, and my quickie fav is veggie at P. Terry’s

  • Whitney

    County Line burgers- sweet buns and nice taste from the grill. Yummm

  • Anonymous

    Top Notch is the best burger in town!

  • Clay C.

    Favorite right now is P. Terry’s. Before it was Dan’s. I perfer grilled burgers. McDonalds or Burger King? McDonalds, Big Mac with cheese, no onions, with fries. We’ll be listening on Friday, break a mic.

  • Alexandra

    What a great topic! I know you mentioned it and so did others in your comments section, but I think Casino el Camino deserves first place. The outside of the burger is savory and perfectly charred and yet the inside remains juicy, sweet and delicious. If only it didn’t take 45 minutes to make! My husband would want me to add P. Terry’s as the runner-up.
    For a healthier choice, I really like the turkey burger at Galaxy Cafe…And I prefer grilled burgers.

  • Mike

    I have to say that my favorite burger in Austin is probably from Casino El Camino… probably one of Austin best kept secrets. I am also a huge fan of P. Terry’s.
    On the opposite side of the spectrum I think that Hut’s is one of the most overrated places. I always wonder if they were great and went down hill, or if they were mediocre all along.

  • Daniel H.

    P Terry’s!

  • Rachel

    The only burgers I have tried so far that I can actually eat (meaning that they are all natural and humanely raised) are P Terry’s. While the burgers aren’t stellar (patties are way too thin and lacking flavor), the price is right – especially for all natural, friendly beef.

    As far as the secret to the perfect burger, it has to be bison. Grass fed, natural bison tastes better and is light years better for you. I have yet to try the bison burgers at Hut’s and Magnolia (both using local Thunderheart Bison), but they are on my list…

    And, for this gluten free gal, the secret to the perfect bun is wrapping it up in some sturdy, crunchy lettuce. Top it off with some agave-sweetened ketchup, stoneground mustard, Veganaise, Bubbies pickles and organic tomatoes and that right there is your perfect burger!

  • Greg Gordon

    Hands down the best burger in Austin is the burger from Casino El Camino on E 6th St. just west of I 35. The service related to ordering and receiving the burger is memorable as well. This burger is one to share because of it’s size. The atmosphere is “different.” If you need to be waited on and pampered then this is not the place for you. You go the the back window and order the burger. You pay for it when you order. It’s definitely an experience as well.

  • Greg Gordon

    Houston’s burgers are fantastic too! I don’t go to Hut’s for the burgers. I go there for their onion rings.

  • Doug

    O’Leander Cafe, in Leander, has an awesome burger. And the bun she uses enhances the flavor even more. It’s big, juicy, and cooked just right and to order. The sides are not your normal ‘french fries’ but you can choose whatever you want. The Italian Potatoes or mashed potatoes go real good with it. YUM!!!!!!

  • double tonic

    The Hut’s favorite, plus jalapenos! Probably my favorite in town. But I have shamefully never been to Casino El Camino and am in fact finally planning to go this Friday for lunch!

    Also a huge fan of Dan’s, Fran’s and Burger Tex on Airport.

    In order of importance to me are 1) quality of meat 2) quality of bun (a bad bun can ruin a burger) and 3) the right ratio of crispy-to-soggy fries.

    And I’ve only had it once, but the Roaring Fork burger is pretty damn good, too!

  • LRB

    Just have to say that the fries at Hyde Park Grill are OVERRATED! I prefer steak fries and haven’t found them here. As far as burgers, my husband loves Mighty Fine.

  • Lisa G.

    My favorite veggie burger is the 78704 at Phil's. You can get it with any patty, and I get the veggie. It's on a jalapeno bun, with jalapenos, jack cheese, grilled onions, and avocado. With all that good stuff, there doesn't even need to be a patty!

    I do indulge in the occasional turkey burger. I am partial to Galaxy Cafe's, which is big, but not too big, and very juicy. I also dig Hyde Park Bar & Grill's turkey burger, but haven't had it in a while.

  • Alex Robinson

    Well I have several favorites. Many have been listed here so I wont’ repeat them all, but one I like that I didn’t see mentioned was the burger at Cafeteria on Lamar across from Book People. It is very well seasoned and they have great fries. I really like the Alan Freed burger (which is just the burger and hickory sauce) at Huts as well. Get it with the longhorn beef if you like it a bit leaner.

    P. Terry’s is good but I prefer their chicken burger to the regular burger because they are too thin for my liking. The lemonade is tasty though. Ymmmm. Several people have mentioned the chicken burger at JO’s on 2nd. that is one tasty bird burger, too.

  • Anonymous

    Your list is missing Ski Shores, Boulevard Bar and Grill, and Hills. With that said, I love the Richie Valens at Hut’s, and though now too popular, Casino El Camino is still one of the best.

  • Jordan

    Fino has a spectacular slider.

    I like Hut’s, but mostly for the onion rings.

    Phil’s Violet Crown rules. So do their sweet potato fries.

    I plan to try P. Terry’s soon.

  • Sara B.

    For budget: $3 McCormick & Schmicks HH
    For bun, cute names, tastiness: Phil's Icehouse
    For atmosphere and "coolness": Casino el Camino
    I think Mighty Fine is nothing special

  • Lisa A.

    EVERYONE tells me that the veggie burgers at Houston’s are THE BEST! I liked them but didn’t love love love them but everytime I mention I am a vegetarian, people will often ask me if I’ve had houston’s veggie burgers saying they are awesome.

  • Jeremy

    What, no love for the Bulgogi Burger at Burger Tex? It's super tasty!

    Also, the Kobe Beef Burger at Hyde Park Bar & Grill should definitely get a nod – Kobe + Foccacia makes for fantastic flavor.

  • Christian

    78704 at Phil’s with sweet potato fries! Also love the fries at Mighty Fine, but burgers are just ok. And central market’s bbq burger, I seem to get that a lot when I’m there.

  • Anonymous

    Roaring fork! Only affordable during happy hour though.

  • Mary W.

    Favorite Austin burgers are:

    Cheeseburger at Jo’s Coffehouse
    Royale with Cheese at the Alamo Drafthouse
    Cheeseburger at the Counter Cafe

  • Jodi

    Royale with Cheese = Genius.

  • Jodi

    Through my Austin burger research I learned tha following are Austin faves:

    Casino El Camino
    Phil’s Ice House
    P Terry’s
    Mighty Fine

    Many (including me) feel that Casino and Hut’s are overrated.

    Lots of shoutouts to Galaxy Cafe for Turkey Burgers, Jo’s for chicken sandwich, and Houston’s for the veggie burger.

    Ower of Elroys Hamburgers called during ths show last week – specializes in wild game burgers. The website: http://www.elroysausageco.com.

    Has anyone taken the Cameron Road Burger Challenge? This would include eating your way down Cameron Road to Fran’s, Whataburger, Sonic, and Hill-berts. Oye!

  • Emily

    I actually liked Top Notch, something about the flame-kissed patty and greasy cheese was so good!

  • Tom B.

    I remember reading a review of the old Frisco on Burnet in which their hamburger was described as “like you want a McDonald’s burger to be” or something to that effect. This caught my attention for some reason so I went by to have one – the description was spot-on in describing this small-ish, flimsy burger that certainly wasn’t great, but was kinda good and somewhat better than its appearance would hint.

    This is more or less how I feel about P. Terry’s. I’ve had a couple of pretty good burgers on S. Lamar and a crappy one on N. Lamar last weekend – I seem to know a lot of people who rave about the place and as best I can tell from gently interrogating them, P. Terry’s is sparring in the fast food weight class, where it handily (and rightfully) cleans up. But it’s a pretty low bar.

    Case in point – I was reading the comments on your blog and noticed that for all the P. Terry’s enthusiasm, there was not a single substantive word said about the taste or experience of eating at PT burger. Whereas Casino seems to drive readers to vivid fits of gastro-rhapsody….my mouth is watering just typing this, for crying out loud.

    I don’t simply mean to beat up P. Terry’s – they do what they do well and Austin is surely the better for it. But in thinking about places like Hills and Casino (sort of the all-american alpha and depraved satanic omega of Austin hamburgers for me)…it’s not even a question.

  • Anonymous

    Try Freddie's in Pfluegerville.

    Hot burger with cold veggies, perfect.
    Mike's Pub similarly awesome.

  • MEG42

    No lie…. but Abel's on the Lake has amazing burgers!! I was surprised at how great they were. Yummy thick patties and sweet roll buns. Absolute yum! And, what's even better is that on Monday burgers are $5 after 6:00pm. The only negative is that their fries aren't that great… so, I would opt for a different side for sure.

  • MEG42

    No lie…. but Abel's on the Lake has amazing burgers!! I was surprised at how great they were. Yummy thick patties and sweet roll buns. Absolute yum! And, what's even better is that on Monday burgers are $5 after 6:00pm. The only negative is that their fries aren't that great… so, I would opt for a different side for sure.

  • Epsteindana

    Casino el Camino for sure. Big Daddy's classic is amazing and enough to fill you up for an entire day. I can't imagine eating some of their more creative concoctions. Also our neighborhood bar, The Hideout, is DELICIOUS especially the A1 burger.

  • Naomi

    Pascal burger at Hopfield's is my current favorite. A friend mentioned it was the best burger she's had in town, maybe her favorite ever. I have to agree.

  • jodibart

    I'll have to try that burger at Hopfield's. Just checked the menu and saw it includes camembert, cornichons, onions and frites. YUM!

  • jodibart

    I'll have to try that burger at Hopfield's. Just checked the menu and saw it includes camembert, cornichons, onions and frites. YUM!

  • Epsteindana

    Casino el Camino for sure. Big Daddy's classic is amazing and enough to fill you up for an entire day. I can't imagine eating some of their more creative concoctions. Also our neighborhood bar, The Hideout, is DELICIOUS especially the A1 burger.

  • Naomi

    Pascal burger at Hopfield's is my current favorite. A friend mentioned it was the best burger she's had in town, maybe her favorite ever. I have to agree.

  • jodibart

    I'll have to try that burger at Hopfield's. Just checked the menu and saw it includes camembert, cornichons, onions and frites. YUM!