Editors’ Picks

8 Burgers to Eat Right Now

Divey, fancy, and everything in between: Houston’s burger scene is beefing up.

Photography by Katharine Shilcutt September 1, 2014 Published in the September 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

The Principal at Bernie's Burger Bus

Image: Andrea Weir

Bernie’s Burger Bus

Just in time for the hottest part of the year, Bernie’s Burger Bus has opened its first bricks-and-mortar location—meaning you can finally eat chef Justin Turner’s beloved burgers in air-conditioned comfort. Our top pick from the food truck’s old menu is still The Principal, a classic cheeseburger with Bernie’s signature garlic-roasted tomatoes. Of the new items at the restaurant, you’ll want to try out the chicken burger with a house-ground patty with sun-dried tomato and goat cheese spread on top, and save room for a lighter-than-air milkshake—the peanut butter and jelly is our favorite.

Drexel House

Sure, you could eat a perfectly healthy meal here at Drexel House—and you may find that’s what most of the other tables around you are doing, enjoying salads and other light fare. But they’re missing out on one of the better burgers in town. Freshly ground brisket comes on an English muffin–style bun that helps catch the copious juices, along with carefully curated toppings of Bibb lettuce, tomatoes, Muenster cheese, and Russian dressing. Wash it down with one of Drexel House’s great beer selections on draft.

Grub Burger Bar

The first location of popular College Station–based Grub Burger Bar draws huge crowds at CityCentre, as much for its bar and patio as its big, bold burgers made with beef ground fresh twice a day. We love the Lockhart Legend, which comes with bacon, cheese, onion rings, and Dr Pepper barbecue sauce, though the beef-less section of the menu offers equally intriguing selections like a yellowfin tuna burger topped with pickled ginger and spicy wasabi-teriyaki dressing. If you aren’t driving, finish with a spiked milkshake like the decadent Bourbon & Caramel.

Hubcap Grill

Good news for Clear Lake residents: you don’t have to drive downtown (or to the Heights) anymore to get one of Ricky Craig’s rightly famous Hubcap Grill burgers, now that his third location is open in Kemah. Craig’s classics like the Philly cheesesteak burger and the Cheesy Cheeto burger are still on the menu, as are the twice-fried french fries and plenty of craft beer.

Lankford Grocery

It’s not just the slanted floors that make the 75-year-old Lankford Grocery feel like a funhouse; the gloriously over-the-top burgers help, too. The Grim Burger comes spilling over with mac ‘n’ cheese, jalapeños, bacon, and a fried egg, while the Wasabi Burger is stacked high with grilled pineapple rings, red onions, Swiss cheese, and a spicy wasabi sauce. If you just want an old-fashioned burger, Lankford can do that too—it’s the same one they’ve been serving since the ’70s.

Pappas Burger

What started as a place where Pappas Bros. Steakhouse could use its extra cuts of USDA Prime meat has turned into Pappas Burger, one of the best burger joints in the city. Each burger comes with a half-pound of Prime meat, and can be as basic as a cheeseburger or as elaborate as a Lucy Juicy stuffed with American cheese, then topped with bacon jam, grilled onions, a fried egg, and pimento cheese—though it’s the comparatively simple Frito Pie burger that’s our pick.

Revolve Kitchen + Bar

Chef Shannen Tune retooled his burger menu to go along with a new name for the Hotel Derek’s in-house restaurant Revolve, trimming it down to four favorites. We love his Hangover Burger topped with hashbrowns, bacon, and a fried egg, though our favorite is a just over-the-top enough Wagyu burger with pickled red onions and black truffle mayonnaise.

Stanton’s City Bites

Art Fong—the beloved former owner of Stanton’s City Bites who passed away in 2013—presides over the convenience store–turned–burger joint in the First Ward in the form of a painting hovering above one of Stanton’s indoor picnic tables. Wife Theresa Fong still flips the burgers that made Stanton’s a neighborhood fixture and a local treasure, with hand-formed, half-pound patties spilling out of their buns. While the bacon-cheeseburger is a classic can’t-miss, we also love the Miss Piggy that features a burger patty with ground bacon inside, topped with candied bacon, hashbrowns, and Cheddar cheese.

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