I'm always surprised when people tell me they love burgers, yet have never been to Cream Burger. Along with other old timers like Sparkle Burger, Champ Burger, Burger Park, and Poppa Burger, Cream Burger is a definitive example of the traditional drive-up burger stand.
Here, the burgers are simple and straightforward: they're topped with mustard, chopped onions, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and cheese if you want it. That's it. Burgers like these never go out of style, never get played out. They're the food equivalent of a classic pair of denim jeans.
And as we're increasingly in the midst of this fell frenzy over the newest, trendiest dishes and dining destinations, places like Cream Burger offer an invaluable resource as a palate cleanser and reminder that, in the end, it's the simplest pleasures that are the greatest.
Simple is Cream Burger's stock-in-trade, from its menu to its prices. Your options are limited to burgers, fries, Frito pies, and milkshakes—the ice cream in which is where Cream Burger got its name originally when Willie and Verna Greenwood first opened Willie's Cream Burger over half a century ago. Though the Willie's portion of the name has since been dropped, little else has changed save a slight rise in the prices (though a full lunch here is still less than $5) and a recently repainted sign near the ordering window. The Greenwoods' kids still run the place today.
As a city without much of a sense of historic preservation, it's places like Cream Burger that serve as our relics—not just structural relics, but relics of the way our parents and grandparents used to eat. In a way, it's kind of fitting that some of Houston's most well-preserved instutions are restaurants; we've always been a city of dreamers, doers, and ferocious eaters. If you're one of those who still hasn't been to Cream Burger, you owe it to yourself to get a proper Texas lunch and soak up what little history our city is content to leave intact. For now.