Take a Bite

Our Favorite Burger? It's All About Home.

Our dining editor shares his favorite in the city, plus a couple other choice items.

By Timothy Malcolm October 31, 2019

The cheeseburger at Atlas Diner in Bravery Chef Hall.

Any time someone finds out that I'm originally from Philadelphia, she, he, or they will often ask for my favorite cheesesteak. I have an answer, but it's based on the idea that usually your favorite is the one closest to you. It's your neighborhood spot, maybe the one you grew up with. You can't shake that taste from your mouth. It's part of you.

I think the same can be said for burgers. Arguably the most ubiquitous food item in America— found in small shacks and stands, food halls and mall courts, casual neighborhood restaurants and fine-dining establishments alike—the burger is the standard. So it stands to reason that your favorite burger might be the one close by, the one you can grab at a moment's notice, when you just need that familiar bite of grilled beef, melty cheese, and acid along with a soft bun.

Cantina Barba's double cheeseburger.

So what's my favorite burger? It's basically my local: The double at Cantina Barba. I had it again last weekend with my family, and my wife (her first time eating it) couldn't get over its deliciousness. We wrote about it previously: two beef patties topped with American cheese, thick pickle discs, and some chipotle mayonnaise, in between toasted brioche. I can't get over how good it is.

But we're pretty lucky in Houston, as there are some outstanding burgers to be found throughout the city. They're of all shapes and sizes, from Flip 'n Patties's cheese-stuffed portobello monster to the effortlessly street-simple FM Burger at FM Kitchen & Bar. And lately, I've had more than a few newbies that make me sing (tip: head to Atlas Diner or Monkey Tail).

Some of the best burger crafters in the city will be on-hand at Houstonia's fifth annual Burger Bash next week (full disclosure: I will be judging). I'm excited to see—OK, taste—what kitchens like B.B. Lemon, Rodeo Goat, BCK, and Buffburger concoct for me and everyone else that evening.

I fully believe a great burger should be one that calms you down and enhances your comfort level, which is probably why your favorite may be the one closest to you. I think about the Cantina Barba double and how it put me at ease while enjoying a meal with my family. B.B. Lemon is another one—its burger came to me one evening at the bar while watching my beloved Philadelphia 76ers play on national television. I had everything I needed at that moment: my team, a cold beer, and a damn good burger.

I always recommend heading out and trying whatever is new. Expand your horizons. But when it comes to burgers, I totally understand if you want to keep it close to home. 

Houstonia Burger Bash is set for 6 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Plaza at CityCentre. You can buy tickets here.

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