Chances are that when you think of Houston Ave. and burgers, you think immediately of Stanton's City Bites. And you wouldn't be wrong to leap to this association; Stanton's makes some of the best burgers in Houston—a statement with which very few people would argue. But chances are also that you're overlooking another terrific burger just down the block, in the unlikeliest of places.
A few streets over from Stanton's at the corner of Summer St. and Houston Ave. is Cafe Brussels, which is as well-known for its moules-frites (Belgian mussels and fries) as Stanton's is for its burgers. And though it's frankly tough to order anything else off chef Catherine Duwez's elegantly Belgian menu than those perfect mussels, you must try the Cafe Brussels burger at least once.
As with the rest of Duwez's cuisine, the burger is understated in its excellence. The $15 may seem pricey at first, but it features a fat, hand-formed patty covered in a thick cloak of Provolone cheese, resting on a bed of grilled onions and jalapeños. On the other side of the open-faced burger is the traditional salad stuff: a piece of iceberg lettuce and a slice or two of tomato. You can eat them if you want, but the burger doesn't need them. The well-seasoned, nicely salted beef with a fine char is offset by the sweetness of the eggy bun it's served on, which seems to melt into the burger as you eat.
And of course, on the side, you'll find Duwez's famous frites: fried twice and served with her homemade mayonnaise, the likes of which you simply won't find anywhere else in town: Creamy, finely spun, and rich with egg yolks and garlic. Paired with one of the dozen or so Belgian beers on draft (Cafe Brussels has, bar none, the best Belgian beer selection in town), you'll be in for an experience at this cozy cafe that you can't replicate at Stanton's or anywhere else in Houston, for that matter. To me, that's priceless.