How do I judge a burger?
First thing I always do is eat just a piece of hamburger meat with nothing on it. Does the meat have its own flavor? Is it juicy? Is it cooked correctly at medium and no more than medium well (exception made for sliders)? Is the bun too dry or does it perform the job of sopping up juice and add flavor and depth to the burger? Does every burger a place offers taste good or only a single burger? If only a single burger, then that’s fine, but it does detract from being a “burger joint.”
There are a tons of great burger joints in Austin, but only a few were pure bliss, what I call the “hallelujah burger.” The burger that hits your mouth and sends you to that special place in your head where you’re at peace with yourself and everything around you. That place where if you were butter you would melt instantly and ooze all over the floor of the joint. There are also a lot of places that are not burger joints, but have a good burger. Those places had to really stand out to make my list, as I focused on places that catered to the burger lover in me.
NOTE: I fully acknowledge that taste is subjective. I don’t think judging a burger on the quality of the meat, how it’s cooked, if it’s juicy and has flavor on its own is subjective, but once you get past the meat and onto the bread, condiments, and add-ons, then you enter subjective taste. I fully expect people to disagree with my list and that’s perfectly okay. I encourage you to post your own top burgers!
So here they are, from least to best (least being the wrong word to use here, since it did make my list):
- Pool Burger
- Moviehouse & Eatery (yeah, you read that right, while not a burger joint, the Big Jake is phenomenal)
- Delray Cafe (food truck)
- Holy Roller
- LeRoy & Lewis (BBQ joint with a great burger)
- Luke’s Inside Out
- Mooyah (yeah, the chain, try the Double Diablo)
- Phil’s Icehouse (get double meat)
- Jewboy Burgers
- Jackalope (yeah, surprised me as well)
- Big Daddy’s
- Casino El Camino
But What About?
Where are the standard ones you see on so many Austin lists like Sandy’s, Hut’s, Dan’s, P Terry’s, etc? Well, they’re somewhere between Wendy’s and McDonald’s because they’re just sliders and mediocre ones at that: especially the exceptionally overrated P Terry’s.
So with that said, here’s are my favorite slider joints, which I’ll only eat at if I’m really hungry and they’re close by. Otherwise I’m heading to my tops above. This list is again least to best.
- Hat Creek Burger Company
- Top Notch (Better than P Terry’s, but not charcoal as advertised on their sign, it’s a grilled slider. Get the double meat burger with extra sauce.)