Police Pursuits: Police, Suspects, and Bystanders

This is going to be a long one, but I feel it’s important enough to go into detail.

I watch a lot of police chase videos. I don’t mean the cheesy news helicopter ones we see on those dumb “Scariest Police Chases” shows that are common in California. I watch the raw video from the police officer’s dashcam and bodycam. This perspective lets you truly see how harrowing and crazy some chases actually get, and often times why officers make the decisions they do.

I started watching these years ago after YouTube recommended them. I watch a lot of dashcam footage, so I guess YouTube thought they were related. I honestly think everyone should watch dashcam compilations as they help you notice predictive behavior that often indicates an idiot is about to do idiot things and put your life at risk. I know I’m a much better defensive driver because of all the dashcam videos I watch and continue to watch on a daily basis. That idiot behavior extended naturally into the dashcams from police chases.

It should be noted that I have been involved in two high speed chases while serving in my capacity as a security officer in the Navy while stationed in Jacksonville. One on base and one off base. I went through EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operator Course) and Advanced EVOC. In addition I took an offensive driving course in Italy that was designed for bodyguards. I took it because I was bored. Offensive driving has saved my hide a few times. I believe that knowing how to be defensive and offensive can help make a better driver. But I digress…

So after watching these chases for years now, here are my observations about the police, suspects, and drivers caught up in chases.


There is an effect known as “contempt of cop” or “occupational arrogance.” I am personally convinced there is something psychological going on, as I have seen this behavior in leadership and authority not related to policing or governance. The person becomes irate that someone is not listening to them, obeying their commands, or questioning their authority. It leads to abusive behavior: mentally and physically. The longer they have to chase you, the worse it can get. Throw adrenaline on top of it and things can escalate quickly.

There is some good news here, though. Police are aware of this effect. While it’s been known since at least the 60’s (when “contempt of cop” was first used), it was the Rodney King beating that got police leadership to notice it. However, it took a couple of decades for police to really start educating officers about it and teaching techniques to overcome it. There are absolutely still instances of it, but I think the training and education has helped reduce the incidents, especially after chases.

It becomes obvious watching police chases that “contempt of cop” is more prevalent during the chase than after the chase. Police taking unnecessary risks, getting angry, etc. while the chase is happening. This is why the majority of police departments have chase thresholds to stop chases when they get too out of hand in relation to the offense of the suspect. For example, the threshold for a stolen car is lower than the threshold for a murder suspect. Police officers usually have to relay road, weather, and traffic conditions, as well as speeds when initiating a pursuit, and keep updating traffic and speed conditions as it continues.

After a pursuit is announced, leadership will ask for the reason. The reason lets them know where the threshold should be and then they monitor variables. Officers report in location, direction, traffic, and speed of the suspect. If traffic gets too heavy and bystanders are at too great of a risk or they feel the officers involved are too engaged and losing focus, leadership can halt the pursuit. It’s common for officers to have the authority to stop a pursuit from their end as well if they feel it’s endangering the public too much.

Some areas will pull officers back to a safe following distance and turn their lights and sirens off to take pressure off the suspect so they stop driving so erratically. They let a police helicopter keep an eye on the suspect and pull the officers back in when it’s safe to do so. The eyes in the sky lead the officers to the suspect. Where you see chases less likely to a stop is when they are chasing suspects related to violent crime: murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, etc.

In a significant number of areas, police are using methods to stop chases more safely. The use of stop sticks is more common and grapplers are becoming more accessible. While some departments have stopped using the PIT (Precision Immobilization Technique)/TVI (Tactical Vehicle Intervention) due to them being unsafe, many departments still allow them, or allow them only under certain circumstances. While in most cases the PIT/TVI just spin the vehicle around and allow officers to box the suspect in, they sometimes result in crashes, including rollovers. Suspects and their passengers have been injured and fatalities have happened. I’m not sure eliminating the PIT/TVI is the answer, but putting restraints on it, such as maximum safe speed, road conditions, roadside hazards (ditches, trees, fences), and if passengers are involved, should all be taken into consideration before performing a PIT/TVI.

I do not support the “no chasing” approach that some people want. I think it’s important to apprehend people who are a threat to society. However, I do believe that if the license plate is visible and it’s not a stolen car, then arrest should happen at the suspect’s residence later instead of chasing them down in a pursuit. I believe more discretion is needed on when to initiate and stop a pursuit to better ensure public safety, and that has to be weighed against the threat to public safety the suspect presents. I don’t think there is a one answer fits all solution here, but common sense and tactical awareness go a long way in determining if pursuit is warranted or not.

One of the more common things you hear from police during pursuits is them getting irritated at other cars on the road. It’s commonplace to hear an officer yell, “Get the f**k out of the way!” to a car that is not pulling over or is braking. There are a few issues there, and I’ll cover them in the drivers’ section.


The funniest thing I have noticed about suspects in police chases is how many of them still use their turn signals when they change lanes and make turns. Even as they’re blowing through stop signs and red lights and going 100 MPH, they still use their turn signals. The police are very appreciative of this behavior.

There are four trends in chases that concern me.

The first is the Dodge Challenger, which is disproportionately involved in police chases and successful evasions. Is there a Challenger Challenge on social media that I’m not aware of to bait police into a pursuit to see if you can get away? The Challenger can easily reach speeds up to and over 150 MPH. They are so common that the Arkansas State Police now deploy units capable of 150 MPH (other vehicles are regulated at 130 MPH). The specialized units were created solely to chase Challengers and similarly fast vehicles. This kind of tit for tat escalation should be concerning for all motorists and citizens. I am specifically concerned because I worry this is an escalation solely because of the “contempt of cop” discussed above instead of just not chasing them and getting their plate info and arresting them later at their house.

The second is the complete disregard for the lives of others, often over something as silly as an expired license, where the suspect could have just taken a ticket and been on their way. There have always been scary chases, but they were rare: rare enough that TV stations could do a “Scariest Police Chases” show only once a year. Now? Now they could do one once a week. I have no answer as to why things have escalated so much. Suspects blow through stop signs and red lights at excessive speed and with complete disregard to their own lives and the lives of other motorists. It’s not uncommon now to see suspects aware of police tactics and aggressively counter them.

The third is this idea that a suspect knows the law better than the officer. That may or may not be the case, but the officer is not a judge. If you disagree with the officer, go to court. Arguing with them about “your rights” and “they have no authority” or “I want a supervisor,” really makes suspects look like fools on video who watched too many armchair lawyer videos on YouTube. Sure, you can ask for a supervisor, but there is zero obligation to get you one. Then suspects are angry that no supervisor showed up or when the supervisor arrives and agrees with the officer. Are you going to ask for the supervisor’s supervisor now? This idea that you know the law better leads to a lot of pursuits as the suspect refuses to work with the officer and speeds off. Just hand the officer your license, take the ticket, and go to court if you disagree. That’s what the courts are for. I’ve gotten out of several tickets I disagreed with by going to court. I’ve never gotten out of a ticket by arguing with the officer on the side of the road.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying not to mention key phrases needed to protect your rights, such as “I don’t consent to searches” or “I don’t answer questions.” What I am saying is arguing with the police over this stuff makes you look like an idiot. Say the phrases. Hand over your license. Sign the ticket. Go to court to get it dismissed. The advice to “don’t answer questions” is 100% legit. Police ask questions about where you’re coming from, why you were there, etc. to check for certain behaviors that alert them to nervousness. Given how much people are scared of police nowadays, nervousness is natural, and should not be an alert to the officer, so just keep your mouth shut and don’t answer questions without a lawyer present. This may seem silly, but saying something like, “80 in a 65? That’s not right, I was only doing 75!” just admitted you were speeding and it’s on their bodycam, which means you’re not getting that ticket dismissed in court.

The fourth trend is the new nervousness and fear of police that I mentioned just above. This has led to police chases as the suspect gets scared and runs instead of pulling over. It has led to people refusing to pull over right away and driving miles to where they think they’ll be safe or where there are family or other witnesses. The problem with doing so is that you are now engaged in “felony fleeing and eluding.” I understand why people are afraid, especially people of color. As a white male who has never feared for his life during a police encounter (even when pulled over by four officers in a small Alabama town), I cannot relate to the fear people of color have when getting pulled over. I cannot imagine what must be going through their mind as those lights turn on. I can only offer this advice: running increases the danger. Running adds “contempt of cop” to your encounter, increasing the danger. Running adds guns being drawn on you as soon as you finally stop or are stopped, increasing the danger. Increasing the danger and likelihood of a bad encounter seems counterproductive if you’re afraid of a police enounter.

I’m actually amazed at how many suspects successfully elude a police pursuit. If they are willing to be absolutely reckless and have a fast enough car they can get away. The police have to at least slow down a bit at stop signs and red lights and the suspect does not (if they’re willing to risk their lives doing so). This leads to the police falling behind. Once they are behind enough, the suspect can turn off the road and hide or continue fleeing in a direction the officers are not aware of. It’s not uncommon to hear officers gripe about stop signs and red lights in their dashcam videos. I think sometimes they would prefer to be able to blow through them as well, and sometimes they do: especially if they have a partner in the car who can yell out “clear” as they approach an intersection.


One thing is absolutely certain watching all the police chase dashcams: too many drivers are not paying attention to their rear-view mirrors as they drive. We were taught in Driver’s Ed to constantly scan our rear-view and side mirrors in addition to the windshield view. It’s clear drivers aren’t really doing that now. Are they no longer teaching this? Have we become too reliant on blind spot warning systems that we don’t pay attention to our mirrors anymore? You should not be surprised when an officer is behind you with their lights and sirens on and you’re blocking the route. You should have seen that pursuit coming behind you already and been ready for it. But you weren’t watching your rear-view mirrors.

Keeping an eye on the rear-view mirror is even more important today than it ever has been because cars are way quieter on the inside than they used to be. Inside older cars you could hear sirens a long way off, but in modern cars you sometimes can’t hear them until they’re right on top of you. I don’t know why manufacturers thought this was the safe way to go, because it is definitely not safe. It doesn’t matter if motorists want quieter vehicles if it creates unsafe conditions where they can’t hear emergency vehicle sirens, motorcycles, approaching trains, etc.

On the complete opposite side of cars not knowing a chase is on them until they’re blocking the officer right behind them, is the drivers who panic and make the situation worse for everyone as they veer into another lane without looking or slam on their brakes.

So let’s cover what you SHOULD do if a pursuit is coming up behind you.

1. Stay predictable. Police are aware of the speed limit and what traffic is doing and they take that into account. Staying at your speed in your lane is actually the best approach to take, because it’s predictable and police can account for it. Don’t hit your brakes and slow down. If you can get out of the lane they are in safely, then do so, even if that means speeding up a bit to get ahead of the vehicle you were passing. Hitting your brakes or slamming on your brakes or aggressively or recklessly changing lanes complicates things for the pursuing officers and can cause a chain reaction that can lead to the suspect getting away or an accident. It’s okay to speed to get out of their way: they’re not concerned about you temporarily doing 15 over to get out of their way. If you were scanning your mirrors like you’re supposed to, you will have enough time to take action safely to either clear a lane or create a gap large enough for officers to get through from lane to lane without you having to change lanes.

2. Don’t panic. Stay focused on the traffic and road. On rural roads, pull over as much as you safely can. Remember, don’t brake quickly, just slow down and pull over as much as possible. If you have enough lead time, you can pull into a driveway or parking lot, but don’t do that if they’re too close, as you doing so could cause a safety issue for the pursuing officers and other vehicles. On divided highways and interstates, stay in your lane. Do not move to the shoulders, as suspects and officers will use them to get around you, so do not block them. What’s important is that there are gaps for the officers to get through, so speed up if you need to in order to create a gap. Only change lanes if you have enough lead time and it’s safe to do so (if the officer is immediately behind you, speed up to change lanes for them: do not brake!). Remember, predictability is taken into account by pursuing officers, and sudden braking or lane changes can put everyone at risk. On an interstate, if you’re near an exit when the pursuit is coming up on you, it’s better to not take it. Suspects and police use exit merge lanes to bypass traffic and suspects will often use them as a decoy to try to shake the pursuing officers. You don’t want to be there if that happens.

3. Be aware of your surroundings. Even if you have a green light at an intersection, it’s always advisable to look both ways before entering the intersection: at a minimum to watch for red light runners. Look for emergency vehicle lights coming your way and if you see them, don’t enter the intersection. Your sight is more important in quiet modern cars where you can’t hear the sirens until they’re really close. There are enough videos of drivers plowing into fire trucks, ambulances, and police. Don’t be the person who is in the next video of such an instance.

4. Don’t get involved. This rarely happens and even rarer still is when it actually helps instead of hinders or puts officers and the public in danger. There are times officers will ask truckers to create a rolling roadblock, but that is incredibly rare. They are coordinated with the officers and truckers who are in constant contact over CB and anyone not directly involved should not get in the way. In most instances where a civilian tries to help, it creates havoc and unsafe conditions for everyone involved. Stay out of it and let the police do their job. If you have a dashcam, then you can get involved the correct way: save the video and send it to police to help with their investigation and court case against the suspect.


Police chases are not going to end. No matter your view on whether they should happen in the first place, they are not going to stop. While the police do take some actions to protect the public during pursuits, honestly, you should rely more on yourself to protect yourself: stay predictable, don’t panic, don’t get involved, and be aware of your surroundings.

Police are constantly working on new methods and technologies to bring chases to a quick and safe end. The introduction of grapplers could be a game changer if the vehicles with grapplers attached can get to the pursuit. Not all police vehicles can get grapplers because of the weight they add. Grapplers will need to have their weight significantly reduced before they can be deployed on all police vehicles. The trials being done on electronic darts that disable vehicle computers are promising, but are not large scale deployable right now and don’t work on older model vehicles. The new spike strips that slowly let air out of tires instead of rapidly deflating them or blowing them out has significantly reduced post-strip accidents and helped bring pursuits to an end more quickly. Deploying any anti-pursuit tactics relies on timing, skill, and luck, and puts the officer deploying the tactic at risk. So it is a constant weighing of risks and variables by the pursuing officers.

Stay safe out there folks. And remember to scan those mirrors: they’re there for a reason.

Is Bandcamp Friday Still Worth It?

I created the image above early in 2022. It was done in jest, showing the DJ comforting/protecting the fan as the Bandcamp Friday onslaught came ashore. DJ’s scour through all the new releases and play the ones they think their fans should hear. There is no denying that it’s subjective (and a bit of gatekeeping), but it’s a screening process that reduces the load the fans get (and kind of the point of DJs).

Bandcamp Friday started as a way to increase revenue to bands during COVID. Bandcamp kept it going, and that’s awesome. The first Friday of each month, bands get 100% of sales from the site: a site that already pays more than most sites do on any regular day. It may seem like a small token, but it’s a great benefit to the bands and the fans. However…

If you’ve seen the movie that image is from, both of them die. It doesn’t matter how much the DJ comforts or protects the fan, the tsunami kills them both. Bandcamp Friday was already an onslaught back in early 2022 and now has gotten to the point that it’s untenable for DJs and fans alike.

This last Bandcamp Friday (March 3rd) I had 79 new releases I had to promote and process. That’s only in the synth-heavy genres like Synthpop, Futurepop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Electro, etc. Seventy-nine after I screened all new releases to remove remix albums, instrumentals, etc. I can’t even imagine what DJs who play rock or pop go through on Bandcamp Friday!

It took me over four hours to do all the promos and initial processing. That processing narrows it down for me, but it still left me with over 60 songs to put on my show. It took me over five hours to put together, upload, process, and then promote Tuesday’s show. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about promoting new music (it’s what I love) or even the time, per se (I’m lucky enough to have the time). What I am complaining about is that it’s all at once now and it’s way too much for anyone.

I believe Bandcamp Friday has lost its secondary point of promoting music (primary point is still about bands making 100% of sales) to the fans because it’s too much to go through for them. They’re getting inundated with emails from Bandcamp, bands, labels, promoters, and social media promos from the bands and labels. It’s very common for me to get an email from the band, label, paid promoter, and Bandcamp all announcing the exact same new album or single. I’ve heard quite a few people say Bandcamp Friday is now spam. I’m not willing to say it’s spam, as it’s not unsolicited, but I get their point.

The primary reason Bandcamp Friday may not be worth it anymore for bands? Your new release is likely getting lost in the tsunami. While I DJ a bit different and do a show dedicated to new releases regardless of how many or how few there are, and include all of them that fit the rules I have in place for the show, that’s not how most DJs operate, and generally speaking, it’s not how fans find out about new music.

I’ve come to the conclusion that bands are better off releasing their new music outside of Bandcamp Friday so that it’s more likely to be seen and heard. Then on Bandcamp Friday, instead of promoting a new release, promote your entire Bandcamp page or setup a deal to get 30% off if they purchase your entire discography or 10% off any individual album/EP/single purchase with promo codes (this won’t address the tons of email issue, but it will address new music getting lost in the onslaught).

I honestly hope Bandcamp Friday sticks around for a long time, but given the nature of the beast, I think bands need to rethink how they use Bandcamp Friday and seriously consider it as a sales day and not a release day. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that no one release music on Bandcamp Friday. We don’t want it to be a dead release day, either. What I am saying is that if you have a new single and you’re holding onto it just for Bandcamp Friday, consider releasing it beforehand and then promoting your discography on Bandcamp Friday. But if you’re just releasing stuff on Fridays and it happens to be a Bandcamp Friday, then so be it. In other words: balance.

Balance. Balance. Balance. Let’s give the fans and DJ’s a chance at surviving that Bandcamp Friday tsunami.

Keep the awesome coming! Keep supporting the bands, the music, and the various scenes related to them!

My Favorite St. Joseph (& Surrounding Areas) Burgers

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 smash/slider)? 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/distract from it?

Honestly, there are not a lot of great burgers in St. Joseph, so I had to include surrounding areas extended out to Kansas City, Topeka, Omaha, etc. A burger has to at least be great to make my list (an amazing will bump a great every time), but what I’m always on the lookout for is pure bliss, what I call a “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. It should be noted that not all the burgers are from exclusively “burger joints:” a great burger can come from anywhere.

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, or whether the bun is too dry or performs its function is subjective, but once you get to condiments, and add-ons, then you enter subjective taste. I fully expect people to disagree with my list and that’s okay. I encourage you to post your own top burgers from the area!

The List

So here is my list. It’s still growing since I only moved to the area in May of 2022. If you have a suggestion of a place that’s not on my list that you think I’d like, by all means let me know and I’ll try them!

  • 10 Ford’s Drive In (St. Joseph)
    • 5028 Lake Ave, St Joseph, MO 64504
    • Ford’s is all sliders and those rarely make my list. Ford’s is one of those “don’t judge a book by its cover” places and you could easily drive by it: and you would be wrong to do so. Ford’s is vastly underrated. Their burgers are juicy and loaded with condiments. Get the double bacon cheeseburger and a shake! If you’re a larger person, seating will be uncomfortable, so you may want to get your food to go.
  • 09 Vogel’s Burgers (St. Joseph)
    • Vogel’s is a food truck, so check their FB page for daily locations.
    • You’re going to wait for your burger as they are hand made to order. A variety of styles of burgers are available. Vogel’s locations and hours vary, so make sure you check their FB page ahead of time.
  • 08 D&G (St. Joseph)
    • 1918 Frederick Ave, St Joseph, MO 64501
    • D&G is one of the few places in town open for lunch on Sunday and their rock & roll themed menu makes perfect sense if you know the quirks of the rock & rollers their items are named after, like the Elvis with peanut butter or the Lemmy with pulled pork on the burger. I recommend both for sure! While there, you can also try one of their amazing tenderloin sandwiches and I definitely recommend the hushpuppies as an appetizer!
  • 07 Tay’s Burger Shack (Kansas City)
    • The Triple from Tay's Burger Shack1019 Armour Rd, North Kansas City, MO 64116
    • I love that their menu is simple: they make what they make and they’re good at it. It’s a matter of how much meat you want! The Triple is the perfect amount for me (I’m not sure I can get my mouth around the Homerun). These are smash burgers and they’re juicy and lots of delicious char in the grooves. I get grilled jalapenos and and bacon as an add-on to give that Triple some extra goodness. My only gripe is that I wish they seasoned the meat a bit more.
  • 06 Sinful Burger Sports Grill (Bellevue)
    • 4005 Twin Creek Dr #101, Bellevue, NE 68123
    • Each of their burgers is named after one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The Wrath is my favorite, because I love the hot stuff! If you’re extra hungry, try the Gluttony!
  • 05 First Ward House (St. Joseph)
    • FirstWardSJFDFireBurger2101 St Joseph Ave, St Joseph, MO 64505
    • When I finally got around to trying this place I knew it was an instant on my list. The SJFD Fire Burger is absolutely phenomenal. From the perfectly seasoned meat, perfectly seared for those crunchy notches on the side with complimenting condiments, crunchy and flavorful bacon, and an amazing overall flavor profile. The excellent fries on the side are a bonus. I’m looking forward to trying their other burgers for sure! Bonus is they are open Sunday from lunch until late, so this will likely now be part of my Sunday routine.
  • 04 RC’s Lunch Car (St. Joseph)
    • 505 Francis St, St Joseph, MO 64501
    • RC’s is 100% my favorite place to get a burger in St. Joseph. In addition to their normal burger, they offer specialty burgers almost every week that are absolutely worth trying. I basically eat dinner at RC’s every Friday night. Also worth trying is one of their hand-spun milkshakes and their BBQ Pork Tacos.
  • 03 Beer Kitchen (Kansas City)
    • 300399943_1679597432409626_7612029134766416080_n435 Westport Rd, Kansas City, MO 64111
    • The Smokestack is probably their most sold burger and for a reason, a perfectly cooked (get it medium like you’re supposed to) and seasoned burger with burnt ends, jalapeno straws, smoked gouda, whiskey glaze, and chipotle aioli come together for a flavor extravaganza. Ask for a little extra chipotle aioli (trust me). Add that smoked chipotle and smoked bacon sauces for your fries as well. Definitely an amazing burger.
  • 02 Pennant (Topeka)
    • The Triple Threat from Pennant in Topeka.915 S Kansas Ave, Topeka, KS 66612
    • The Triple Threat is my favorite and if you like spicy, definitely give it a try: it’s a hallelujah burger for sure. Also check out the P.B.J. which uses Thai peanut butter sauce for some kick. Using Thai peanut butter sauce has been my recommendation over a regular peanut butter on burger for a long time and I was so happy to see a place using it on a burger. Also worth checking out is their tater tot nachos.
  • 01 Brewer’s Kitchen (Kansas City)
    • 3107 Gillham Road Suite 100, Kansas City, MO 64109
    • Every one of their burgers is a hallelujah burger. My favorite by far is their Blueberry Stout Burger. It’s over-indulgent and I love everything about it. Bonus is that it’s situated in an area you should explore more of!

But What About?

Where are the standard ones you see on so many other lists from St. Joseph? A lot of the ones on those lists seem to be based more on nostalgia than taste. For example, I’m always going to get me some Town Topic burgers in Kansas City because of the nostalgia (and they’re good), but they’re not in the Top 10 unless you’re doing a nostalgia-based list. If I’m being honest, a lot of the ones on those lists are just not good. There’s one at the top of most people’s lists for St. Joseph that I don’t include because the burgers are always overcooked and as dry as a hockey puck. It doesn’t matter how good your condiments flavor profile is if your burger is a hockey puck.

My Favorite Austin Burgers (Post-COVID Update)

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!

The List

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 QueGoodnight/Good CauseLlano 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): 

The Problem With Plastic Straw Bans

Okay, so plastic straw bans are suddenly all the rage and quite a few people are lashing out in favor and against. But here’s the problem I see with this…

The plastic straw ban is really just political ass-kissing to shut my fellow liberals up. It doesn’t do a damn thing to stop the problem because a lot of my fellow liberals think these tiny battles are actually meaningful.

Hell, the plastic sippy cup style lids that are being used to replace straws (like at Starbuck’s) use more plastic to make than the regular plastic lids and straws they previously used. The problem isn’t straws: the symptom is plastic and the problem is human behavior.

When we realized lead was killing children we banned lead paint. When we realized asbestos was causing cancer we banned it. We can’t just ban all plastics as kneejerk emotional bullshit legislative action. We need to look at the entire problem and come up with solutions based on science and reason and critical thinking. Ban plastic where it can be banned without affecting people in negative ways. Keep it where it needs be to be kept, but work on solutions to removing plastic even where it’s currently still needed. For example, we clearly need plastic IV bags in hospitals. However, we used to use glass bottles for IVs. Can we go back to glass IV bottles? Is there the will to do that? Is the will there to do that for so many other examples as well?

There are a lot of replacements to straws already in place, such as metal straws being used in homes (we use them in our house) and in places with permanent residents (retirement homes, etc). A few restaurants have started using pasta straws as a replacement. Yes, pasta. And some of us are old enough to remember when straws were made of paper (granted, they weren’t the best, but I’m sure some human ingenuity could improve upon those old-fashioned paper straws).

Why can’t we go back to paper cups at fast food places and coffee shops? Why is my iced chai latte in a plastic cup instead of a paper cup? Why not offer me the option of bringing in my own cup and charging me by the ounce? Why not bring paper bags back to grocery stores? We don’t need plastic bags at grocery stores: we just want them.

People whined about killing trees for paper. We see all these companies bragging about saving paper (a public relations move, not an actual environmental saving move), but that’s non-scientific. Ninety-one percent of all paper products come from self-sustaining tree farms and “second growth” forests (forests that were cut down for other uses before and are being “recycled” instead of cutting down old growth. ONly 9% of paper comes from tearing down old growth forests and that can easily be stopped. Killing off paper is silly, especially since it’s biodegradable (yes, I fully acknowledge the paper-making process has its own issues that need to be resolved: especially the waste it makes). We replaced paper towels with air blowers in bathrooms, but those are electric and use more electricity from coal-based electricity production. But everyone was happy we got rid of paper in bathrooms. It’s kneejerk nonsense that’s not scientifically or rationally based.

Photo via USA Today

The reality is that if every bit of plastic ended up in properly maintained landfills there would be zero issue with plastic (especially landfills that reclaim methane buildup for energy usage). But the problem is people not disposing of them properly so they end up in the waterways and oceans killing animals: like that whale that died with almost 80 plastic bags in its stomach: literally died from starvation because there was no room left in its stomach for actual food. Or the video of the turtle with the straw stuck in its nose that caused so much outrage over straws while a gazillion plastic bags and plastic water bottles (a much bigger problem than straws) and six-pack beer rings are floating around the oceans killing animals as well.

There are solutions for this entire thing and one of the biggest ones is to get rid of our disposable attitudes toward everything from electronics to plates and cups to utensils, etc. We need to start repairing things that break instead of just tossing out that monitor or TV or phone and actually get it repaired instead of putting it in the garbage. We need to stop buying plastic and Styrofoam plates and cups and utensils.

Austin, Texas banned plastic bags for good reason a long time ago and recently the State of Texas overturned plastic bang bans via the Texas Supreme Court. It now won’t be long before plastic bags liter Austin’s streets again, getting into the sewers, finding their ways to the streams and rivers and out into the Gulf of Mexico. The reality is humans are the real problem: plastic in the waterways and oceans is just a symptom of human stupidity.

So because humans are too stupid or lazy or just don’t care to properly dispose of their waste so that it ends up in properly managed landfills, we now have to take drastic kneejerk reaction legislative measures. Humans are the problem: plastic in the waterways and littering our cities is just a symptom of that problem.

So how do we fix the real problem of human behavior? We can’t (at least not in terms of decades – just look at how long it took for the anti-smoking behavior modification to make a dent and people still smoke cigarettes). We can’t fix human behavior like that. So we have to accommodate it and come up with viable solutions and alternatives so that if human morons throw their trash into the street it doesn’t kill animals in the ocean or kill off coral reefs. We need a scientific and fact-based approach to this and kneejerk bans of straws are neither scientific nor fact-based and just a band-aid placed on a sucking chest wound of humanity.