Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Counter Cafe – Austin, Texas (8.5)

Counter Cafe

Greetings burgermeisters! Let’s address the counter culture revolution, an American symbol of the working man, of coffee and pie, of darn good food being made on a time-seasoned grill.  My Austin burger review comes from a cafe that now inhabits one of Austin’s former legendary diners, now simply named, Counter Cafe. And trust me, it’s just that, a counter and a few tables, this tiny place open daily from 8am-4pm embodies the hole-in-the-wall-dive-joint entirely.  However tiny, patrons definitely don’t mind a wait to try some of the home diner style menu with a very refreshing gourmet twist. This place was brought to my attention by UT student by day, Lauren Miller, and her Aggie boyfriend, Sergio Guerrero, who highly recommended the burger and suggested staying away from the extra $3 bacon.

Counter Cafe Condiments

Counter Cafe, right off of Lamar and Sixth (across from Book People), is easy to miss.  But the tiny atmosphere creates an interesting warm feel, sometimes double sitting tables for need of the room (thanks to Austin and Texas hospitality, this wasn’t very awkward). Fast-moving and turning tables very quickly the diner definitely gives you an idea of the quick counter culture of Americana. In most restaurants the condiments are kept down to the standard mustard, ketchup, salt, pepper, and napkins always positioned in a clean and organized manner when turning tables.  Counter Cafe moves too fast to worry about these details and while the tables are clean, the array of sirracha, mayo, mustard, coarse sea salt, and ground pepper are all splayed about and ready to be used.

Counter Cafe Burger

Not thinking twice about it I ordered the burger, sans bacon. My comrade however, a definite sucker for bacon in all its glory, went straight for the nitrate-free three dollar bacon. Ingredients are all natural, organic, and locally sourced when available.  You can order a wheat or white bun, sweet potato fries, cup of soup, seasonal fruit cup, or house salad.  I opted for a wheat bun and sweet potato fries, which Lauren highly recommended. I’ll tell you, as tiny as the place is and as gourmet as some of the other menu items are, they sure now how to make a simple, delicious burger.  I was amazed at how well it was cooked, the buttered and toasted bun, the fresh ingredients, and the interesting choice of bibb lettuce.  Pulling the ketchup and mayo from the condiment array and splattering them on the burger made it amazing.  The sweet potato fries had a perfect balance, not too sweet and seasoned with sea salt.  I devoured this baby whole, forced myself to go on to that one last delectable bite.  The Austin burger scene can be proud to add this to repertoire.  Although there was a bit of wait for the burger, you can see there are only two cooks in the kitchen with little more than elbow room. You can also openly see the care put into the food in as quick a manner as possible.

Counter Cafe Burger

The reviews for this place in Texas Monthly’s issue of the 50 best burgers in Texas, Yelp, and the Austin Chronicle praise this little cafe. Going to give this swell joint an 8.5 and insist that you shove it in your mouth and EAT IT.

The Counter Cafe
626 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 708-8800
Hours: 8AM – 4PM Daily

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Written on January 29th, 2010. 4 Comments

Elevation Burger – Austin, Texas (9.0)

IMG_2327

This review is on my first burger of 2010 at the Elevation Burger on Great Hills Trail in Austin, Texas. This burgery is a purpose driven establishment that brings the burger back to the basics: Quality Food.  Elevation takes its business seriously, and burgers are its business. With an organic label on their ingredients and a commitment to the environment that is exhibited in their environmental structure the promise of a delicious burger is there. However, behind all these feel good, green, trendy notions could be a burger that doesn’t live up to it’s marketing genius, maybe.

My visit on January 1st was one filled with apprehension and high hopes.  The restaurant is located across from the Arboretum, a rather pleasant and moneycentric side of town.  The kind of place where you could market the green good life trends to yuppies and they’d eat it all up.  On my visit I tried to keep an eye on the locals and the staffing, and I was surprised and pleased with both.  This restaurant serves to the conscious Austin burger eater, a patron that believes in a better self as well as a better world in which the way to both are within our grasps. The staff was extremely nice and very helpful with all our burger questions and they seemed genuinely happy to be helping people and working hard. The actual experience of the restaurant was great. But all of that could fall through if the burger didn’t deliver.

elevation burger

The wait was decent, considering my burger was being made fresh from meat ground on the premises. When our burgers arrived I saw a perfectly sized burger that had a P. Terry’sesque feel to it.  Infact, the burger does resemble the Austin chain in several ways. Mainly because of the quality, organic seal on the ingredients and the simplicity of the burger.  This burger was amazing.  It was delicious and perfectly sized, not the kind of burger that has your gut evicting other organs for need of space. The patty, the fresh vegetables, the Elevation sauce (not Thousand Island but a sort of creamy tomato concoction), the simply stated bun all compiled an ensemble that made my taste buds fall into that deep burger LOVE. The fries, although were a bit too toasted, were impossible to stop devouring. All in all, my Elevation burger was a great to start to 2010. Environmentally friendly, health conscience, and enjoyable in just about every way possible I’m happy Elevation started my year off.

elevation burger 2

I highly, highly recommend Elevation Burger to anyone looking for a delicious feel good treat. Rated on a scale of 1-10 this burger gets a highly deserved 9 and you absolutely must EAT IT.

Elevation Burger
9828 Great Hills Trail
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 608-4054

Hours of Operation:
Sun-Thurs: 11am-9pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-10pm

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Written on January 12th, 2010. 0 Comments

Phil’s Ice House – Austin, Texas (8.0)

phil's ice house

Back with another Austin favorite- Phil’s Ice House! Located on Burnet road and attached to an Amy’s Ice Cream, this burgery looks extra fun! fun! fun! This is something that definitely continues to be said about the burger and beer place, the kids. On Yelp and Urbanspoon reviewers adore the grub and seem to see the shorter and often cuter patrons of Phil’s as a pox on the joint. But, in my eyes, in the season of holidays and cold weather, I found those foreign little people quite a pleasure. One fellow patron dining with me infact had on a pink, glitter tutu skirt. That and knowing that I wasn’t the only one dying to finish my burger and rush to the adjoining ice cream stand made me feel less guilty.

Phil's Ice House Inside

Enough about the visitors, Phil’s décor makes it look like a swinging joint. There’s a rather interesting playground, had it not been freezing and late, that I would have conquered. The menu has a certain Austin Pizzazz to it with burgers named so the locals can grin and order a burger that hits home in more ways than one. There’s beer available ( YES!), there’s shakes just over the way (Double YES!) and there are sweet potato fries. Sweet potato fries are much healthier than regular fries and also just a tad sweeter. You can get your basket of fries mixed or just regular or just sweet, your call of course. I decided to order the 78704 Burger, it screamed flavor explosion.

When we went, on New Year’s Eve the employees were pretty fun to talk to, even if they were busy serving a full house. Looking for seating was a little rough with all the patrons, and when we settled down to a roomy booth, a family came in that was going to have to split onto two small two seater tables. My friend suggested we move to the two seater table and let the family of five take the booth. A generous but small move, I thought, that would reward us in the end.

phil's ice house 78704 Burger

I must say this, I am not a charbroiled fan, but at Phil’s Icehouse they seem to have my ticket. This burger was feisty and delicious, he gave me a run for my refill and had me stuffing sweet potato fries into my mouth to put out the tingling fire. This burger is not a five alarmer, but it definetly leaves a flavorful tingle. The avocado, the jalepeno bun, the well placed jalapeno bombs, and monterrey cheese make this burger a winner in my eyes. Word on the street is that the 78704 also fairs well as a chicken sandwich, or unburger. My fries were well toasted and I must admit this was a worthy burger to see 2009 off with.

AND as my comrade and I headed to Amy’s after words to indulge our sweet teeth we found that family that we had given the booth to had purchased our dessert for us! It was a rather sweet gesture that made me see what it is about Texas hospitality in Austin that makes it a great capitol city and burger heartland. Thanks once again to that family out there!

And to sum it all up, I <3 Phil's. I can't wait to go back and try anyone of their Austinonian burgers and follow it up on the playground with some Amy's Ice Cream. I give this burger a very full 8 and say you absolutely have to EAT IT all up! Phil’s Ice House
5620 Burnet Rd
Austin, TX 78756
(512) 524-1212

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Written on January 5th, 2010. 0 Comments

Slagosaurus, My Five Guys Love

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Let’s talk about Five Guys Burger and Fries. A burger joint that originated in Arlington, Va back in 1986 has spread across the U.S. and now has over 300 locations in 25 states. Five Guys markets that the establishments do not contain any freezers, fifteen free toppings, making 250,000 possible burger combinations! Five guys recently opened a new location in Austin, Tx. Lauren Miller, a UT student and dance party aficionado, recommended I check the place out, see what the big deal is. So off I went to 3208 Guadalupe St in the ATX to investigate.

With burgers, simplicity is boss! The menu is straight forward. You can get a cheeseburger or a hamburger, little or regular. Little being one patty, regular being two. I went for the Bacon Cheeseburger. And a funny thing happened as i was ordering, i felt a strange and awesome liberation from premeditated burgerdom! I felt as i was saying pickles it was a free for all for any of the other 14 free toppings. So then I said sauteed mushrooms. And then I knew i needed bbq sauce but i wasn’t done yet. This burger needed one more somethingdelicious, so green pepper just came out. And that was it, with a Coca Cola as a burger chaser I was ready.

Five Guys Burger

My burger showed up in a brown bag with greasy splotches all over, a good sign. I pretty much ripped opened the foil to find Slagosaurus. Yeah, this guy was so disgustingly handsome I had to name him. Then after the first rather happy bite I had no choice but to continue to make out with the bad boy. Slagosaurus was scrumdiddlyumptious because it was all my idea. The meat was fresh and the quality added to the topping melee. The bun tasted as though they had toasted it on the grill and had a sweet little taste. I have to praise this burger because the cheese alone is defying gravity right before my eyes. The fries, cajun style, were plentiful and tasty. There were so many fries my burger was swimming in them and so was I and we were in love.

five guys fries

As a strange note, Elijah Wood that web slinging fool also dines at the Five Guys on Guadalupe in Austin. Way to go Indie creepy!

You know what I want you to do: EAT IT and EAT IT HARD.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
3208 B Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78703
Tel: 512-452-4300
Fax: 512-452-4310

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Stay tuned for next post on another Austin favorite P. Terry’s Burger Stand!

Written on April 16th, 2009. 3 Comments

Mooyah Burgers & Fries – Austin, Texas

Mooyah Burgers and Fries

Mooyah Burgers is a doppelganger of a burger joint. It teeters on being some alternate universe version of Five Guys. The concept is the same with a few minus and plus signs. The plus is that there are cheese options: swiss, American, and cheddar; and there are a few interesting sauces that come up. The minus is that there aren’t any green peppers. For some reason that’s a big minus for me. Another frightening thing is the intense freedom. The cheeses, the toppings, gaaaaah, i don’t know if I can take it.

Mooyah Swiss Burger

And I couldn’t. I made a mistake. My burger idea was beautiful, it would have been the envy of all burgers. It was supposed to be a fresh concept with swiss cheese and lettuce, and (here it is) if i just had those green peppers maybe it would’ve worked, maybe. But instead, my swiss cheese and special sauce (thousand island) kind of made me feel weird. Sick weird. Another strange thing is that they go on about their special bun, but I don’t know if I noticed anything particulary special about it. I did get a strawberry shake with my burger that pleased me to every extent. But the swiss-special sauce thing made it weird. again. So I say go to Mooyah, the service there is pretty nice, and the shakes are delicious, all the ingredients are fresh. My only disclaimer is BEWARE of your decision making!!! and EAT IT.

Mooyah Burgers & Fries
9070 Research Blvd.
Suite 303
Austin, TX 78758
Phone: (512) 380-0990
Hours: 11am-10pm, 7 days a week

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Written on April 14th, 2009. Comments Off on Mooyah Burgers & Fries – Austin, Texas

New P. Terry’s!!!

Attention! The new P. Terry’s on 32nd and Lamar opens today. Tis a glorious burger day, tis.

delicious shake

delicious shake

Written on April 14th, 2009. 1 Comment

Dan’s Hamburgers – Austin, Texas

Dan's Hamburgers

As a burger joint should strive to be, Dan’s Hamburgers is a definite icon in Austin, TX. In big cities, like Austin and San Antonio, a good burger is usually hidden in the sprawl of the neighborhood. Slightly hidden to those not familiar with the area. Although word has spread about Dan’s, in the beginning it was a just a community burger joint. A place families went weekly, after a long day, after traffic and reports, school and work, Dan’s is there to be a burger oasis. A small business that means a big deal to a lot of people.

Dan's Hickory Burger

What you might see a lot is that Dan’s Hamburgers is a good burger but not the best. I’ll agree with this statement, but it was a damn good burger. Adequately sized, a did inhale the whole thing. I ate it all and didn’t have room or all the delicious onion rings. I loved the place, I loved the food, I loved the cafeteria like seating. The service is quick and the burgers have the taste of a well worked grill in them. The hickory sauce does not overwhelm the burger, just adds a nice hint of flavor. It reminded me a lot of my original burger love at the Malt House in San Antonio. They serve curly fries as well as regular fries, and onion rings that are pretty good. I dare say that Dan’s does make the best burgers list in Austin, and in a smaller town would be number one. The price for the taste is a deal in my eyes. And the feel of the community is a nice treat. I ate it, you should definitely EAT IT.

Dan’s Hamburgers
5602 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78751-1058
Phone: (512) 459-3239

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Written on April 13th, 2009. 4 Comments

Top Notch Hamburgers – Austin, Texas

Top Notch Hamburgers - CHEESE

There isn’t much new I can tell you about Top Notch on Burnet Rd in Austin, TX. Nothing has really changed there since the 70s. However, why would you want to change something that is so right. Charbroiled burgers, golden onion rings that are not the least bit greasy, a steady amount of regular patrons that give the place its own Texas seasoning, and a decor to match your favorite Texas steakhouse three decades ago make Top Notch an interesting experience before you’ve even ordered your burger. The biggest impression is left by the sweet charbroil aroma that fills the atmosphere of the restaurant. Knowing that anything this place serves up is gonna be as delicious as it’s conviction to decor I ordered the Longhorn Special.

Top Notch Hamburgers - Longhorn Special

This double meat, special sauce, lettuce, tomato, onions (not on mine), and cheese burger, add bacon hit home. It had an all American feel. There was an amount of care and pride in the burger. The Stanish family has been running this business for decades and they love what they do and it shows. The cheese was melted perfectly and the bacon was cooked to perfection. The special sauce mingling with the lettuce and tomato gave the burger a fresh taste that let the two patties be delicious and not overwhelming. It has been said over a hundred times and I can only concur that Top Notch is serving one of the absolute best burgers in Austin. My onion rings were some of the best I’ve had. Not greasy, just golden and perfectly ketchup dippable.

Top Notch Hamburgers - Onion RIngs

Top Notch has had its share of celebrity. If you’ve ever seen the Linklater hit “Dazed and Confused” then you’ve seen Top Notch’s big screen debut. Local artists have also taken some inspiration from the diner such as Jennifer Balkan and George Boutwell. It is a staple in the Austin community. A place that values pride and Americana. James Stanish, who began working at Top Notch for 50 cents an hour as a bus boy when he was 12, took over the business after his father. Stanish sadly passed away this past November, however a legacy has been left behind of quality service and product. Please go EAT IT and enjoy a burger that is quite possibly burger perfection.

Top Notch Hamburgers
7525 Burnet Rd
Austin, TX 78757
(512) 452-2181

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Written on March 31st, 2009. 8 Comments

Mighty Fine: Burgers, Fries, & Shakes – Austin, Texas

Mighty Fine Logo

Rudy’s Bar-b-que has decided to branch off from the brisket and sausage game and make something else I could eat all day every day: burgers.  Mighty Fine: Burgers, Fries, and Shakes is into quality.  They ground and hand form their burgers in the store daily and cut and crinkle their potatoes to make fresh delicious crinkle fries.  Although the menu is pretty simple, the burgers pack an intersting and delicious taste.   

Might Fine Hamburgers

I ordered the Jr. Cheeseburger (one 1/4 patty) with yeller, red, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and no onions! I inhaled it and knew I need to order the double patty next time.  It was pretty darn good.  Nothing outrageously spectacualr just a nice little burger. Organized and not as messy as some of my favorite burgers (Five Guys), pleasant because it strives to do the best it can at all the simple and great things.  The flavors in the burger punch in an iconic burger component way.  Lettuce shows up fresh as ever.  Tomato is thick cut and ready to party.  Pickle is thick and sprinkled about each bite adding the extra sour kick.  I maybe could have used more cheese, but I’m a double cheese kid and can’ get enough of the stuff.  There are beverage troughs much like Rudy’s Bar-B-Que and the hand dipped shakes and fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade make it seem like a burger at your town summer fair.  The white and blue checkered table covers and the cafeteria seating are fun.  Mighty Fine has been getting business from all over Austin. And I can understand why, they’re simply delicious. EAT IT

Mighty Fine: Burgers, Fries, & Shakes
10515 N MO Pac Expy, Ste 105
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 524-2400

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Written on March 28th, 2009. 4 Comments

P. Terry’s

p. terry's sign

P. Terry’s at first glance gives the impression of another retro googie burger stand that only appears to pay homage to a golden era in Americana. The difference, the extra-Austin-something-special, is that P. Terry’s is the real deal. P. Terry’s materialized after a reading of “Fast Food Nation.” How something so entangled in the American culture could become so mangled, processed, and disassociated with anything else, what could that say about the American culture? With that Patrick Terry decided to open a business and manage it the way it should be managed. A place inwhich it’s not just the food but the quality, the ingredients, the way customers are treated, and the employees. The Austin Monthly would refer to P. Terry’s as anti-fast food, something they are quite proud of.

The most honorable of the little burger stands traits would be its strong ties in the community it feeds. P. Terry’s has donated to several charities in the community including Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Tx, Dell’s Children hospital, and Thoughtful House. They also support an Austin Little League! The burgerstand is reminiscent of the way we used to do business, when we cared.

There is a remarkable dedication to the food. Using simple condiments, All-natural Black Angus meat, and a special sauce these people make one heck of a burger. The patty is hand pattied and seasoned in the kitchen. The french fries show up as potatoes, as in: I will now scrub and cut this potato in the kitchen and create FRESH (hot) fries. The rest is simple: Mrs. Bairds buns, Heinz ketchup, Hellman’s mayonnaise, French’s mustard, milk in the milk shake, lemons in the lemonade. The art of burger making is not rocket science, but a science that insists upon simplicity and careful construction. Over the years that science has turned into processed freezer burned patties and American cheese-colored-non-milk based questionable component. And yes, it is more expensive to do it all natural, but it is, in P. Terry’s mind, the only way to do it.

p terry's

My particular burger was delicious. A simple concoction of single patty, lettuce, tomato, special sauce, and American cheese, with hot and delicious fries. I ate the whole darn thing and the fries. Although the burger isn’t big, it is a sizeable portion that will leave you satisfied. If not at 2.25 with cheese, 2 without, just order another. There is a double patty burger, chicken burger, and a veggie burger that Chef Andrew Brooks of Spirited Food helped create. I can’t wait to return to try just about everything else on the menu!

090109_new_pterrys_central_austin_large

Some truly exciting news for fellow P. Terry’s fans is a second location now under way. Designed by Micheal Hsu it will be located on N. Lamar and will have indoor and outdoor seating and the drive-thru! It is currently scheduled to open in March 2009. Until then, stop by the south lamar stand, I say: Go and EAT IT pleasurably.

P. Terry’s
404 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 473-2217

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Written on March 17th, 2009. 2 Comments

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