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 smashed)? Is the bun too dry or does it perform the job of sopping up juice and add flavor and depth to the burger? Do the condiments and add-ons actually add to the flavor or detract from it?
There are a tons of great burgers 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. Not all of the burgers on this list are from a “burger joint.” A great burger can come from anywhere.
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, my Top 10 burgers of Austin. NOTE: Four of my original 10 did not survive COVID. This is my post-COVID list.
- 10 Jewboy Burgers
- Get the Oy Vay Guey and enjoy those hatch green chiles.
- 09 Phil’s Icehouse
- The 78704 Burger is my favorite. Get double meat. Honestly, Phil’s should have double meat on all their grilled burgers.
- 08 Buddy’s Burgers
- I imagine in my head the owner eating at P. Terry’s one day and thinking, “I can make this a thousand times better.” I went in with low expectation, but their meat is seasoned perfectly and what sets it apart is the coarse pepper they use, causing joy in every bite. I prefer the Double Classic With Cheese and make it spicy! Seriously, make it spicy! Also, add bacon, because, you know, bacon.
- 07 LeRoy & Lewis
- This is a BBQ joint and their BBQ isn’t horrible, but go and get the L&L Burger, it’s amazing with all that ground brisket as the patty.
- 06 Luke’s Inside Out
- There’s only one burger on the menu and it’s delicious. By all means try some of their other great food, but don’t skip The Burger.
- 05 Hopdoddy
- A lot of their burgers are phenomenal. Some aren’t (looking at you The Classic). My absolute favorite is El Diablo. My other favorites are The Que, Goodnight/Good Cause, Llano Poblano, and Bacon Jam Double.
- 04 Mooyah
- This is a chain, and I really hemmed and hawed about putting it on this list, but their Double Diablo burger is amazing and you may never go back to Five Guys again. Make sure you get some Green Chile Queso to dip their awesome fries in.
- 03 Jackalope
- The Honey-Jalapeno Bacon Cheeseburger is an outstanding burger. Jackalope’s homemade honey jalapeno sauce is superb. Also check out their Chipotle Bacon Cheeseburger for their amazing homemade chipotle pimento cheese.
- 02 Loro Austin
- The Loro Burger is a Hallelujah Burger, covered in red onion brisket and muenster cheese, cooked medium, and oozing while you eat it. The burger is only served from 11:30 to 5:00, so don’t go too late or you can’t get it. While you’re there, treat yourself to some Char Siew Pork Belly as well.
- 01 Casino El Camino
- Their grilled burgers are beyond phenomenal. The best Hallelujah Burger in Austin. Thick, juicy, perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked. My favorite there is the Amarillo Burger with all it’s glorious serano, jalapeno, and cilantro mayo (add bacon, you won’t regret it). If you like pork belly, check out their Madison Burger as well.
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? Honestly a lot of them are overrated big-time (looking at you P. Terry’s). So with that said, here’s are my favorite slider joints (that aren’t above):
- 03 Dan’s
- 02 Sandy’s
- 01 Hat Creek Burger Company