I'm not ashamed to admit I have a burger addiction. It's one of the reasons I've bounced back and forth between vegetarianism my entire life. With melted cheese, an array of different toppings and a mess of sauces to choose from, a really well-constructed burger is one of my absolute favorite foods. And in Houston, a burger tour can be quite the lengthy journey from holes in the walls to steak houses; every restaurant wants to put their own spin on the classic. While there is no shortage of old-school joints to indulge in a juicy burg (I'm ride-or-die for a Hubcap Grill burger myself), I've been on the hunt for something so over the top and original, it gives new meaning to "Burger King." Enter Max's Wine Dive.
Known for its hearty Southern fare, excellent wine selection and hip brunch service, Max's Wine Dive is one of those places where you may find yourself deciding what to order by peering over at other tables heaped high with food. For Houstonians in the know, no other dish will have heads turning than the off-the-menu Buddha Burger. Affectionately named after one of the staff, the burger is priced at $65—though it's actually worth $100, so one could argue that it's a bargain. Loaded with some of the finest ingredients any restaurant can offer, it's stacked with a juicy half-pound beef patty, triple cream Brie, two ounces of Hudson Valley foie gras, a half-pound chicken-fried lobster tail and—as if the chicken-fried lobster tail isn't outlandish enough—topped by edible 24-carat gold flakes. Oh, and in case that isn't enough, it's served with a generous portion of truffle fries on the side.
Thought it may sound ridiculous, the Buddha Burger is downright delicious. Oddly enough, the flavors of the beef, the Brie, the chicken fried lobster tail and the foie gras compliment each other in a way I have never experienced before, the only challenge being getting a bite with all components in your mouth at once. After all, the burger stands over 6 inches tall from bun to bun.
Some may say $65 is absurd for "just a burger and fries," but when you consider the multitude of ingredients in this one dish, the price point becomes surprisingly reasonable. Depending on your appetite, or if you choose to pair the Buddha Burger with any of Max's other dishes, the dish can be shared. I'd say the experience with a group of friends splitting the burger is worth it alone. And remember: this burger is exclusively off-menu, so be sure to ask for it—you'll be the coolest kid at the table.
Max's Wine Dive, 4720 Washington Ave., 713-880-8737, maxswinedive.com