Burger and an Oil Change at Facundo Cafe

Categories: Burger Break

Facundo's 012.jpg
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
I want this burger all over again.
Listen up, because I'm making your lunch plans for you right now: Drive over to Ella, just outside the Loop, and pull in to the Dr. Gleem car wash. Yes, the one with the palapas out front.

Get your car's oil changed, or get it detailed, or get your expired inspection sticker taken care of. Whatever you do, head inside to Facundo Cafe while you're being productive over your lunch hour and enjoy one of the tastiest burgers in the city.

The jovial Danny Harper will take your order at the grill, then cook it to order right in front of you. Yes, you could take your meal to one of the pub-level tables and watch your car go through the wash, but it's far more interesting to watch Chef Harper and his sous, Venicio Lopez, work the tiny kitchen like they're dancers in a well-choreographed musical, the sounds of the grill and the slamming refrigerator doors providing the soundtrack as they go.

The kitchen has only been open since February, but Harper already has plans for expansion. It's a good thing, too, because the grill is already doing a healthy business at lunch without any marketing and only one solitary review on Yelp. Word of mouth is keeping them busy instead.

It's even more reason to like Facundo.

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If the idea of a burger at a car wash is odd, keep in mind that the Facundo family -- which owns Dr. Gleem -- are old hands at multitasking anyway. In addition to running the car wash and auto shop (which, by the way, also contains a hair salon and shoe shine station), the family also runs Facundo Home Builders and lives right down the street in Garden Oaks.

I was caught by the sight of a cafe inside the car wash as I drove down Ella last week on the way home from Petrol Station. The palapas and fountains outside were even more of a draw, as was a sign advertising fish tacos with mango slaw. It demanded a visit.

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Once inside, with my car getting its oil changed and its interior scrubbed, I took a seat at the grill and asked Harper about his favorite item on the menu. To my surprise, he didn't say "fish tacos," but rather the turkey, Swiss and avocado sandwich or the spinach, bacon and avocado burger. The man likes his avocado, so I decided to go with the latter.

It was a surprisingly good combination, with plenty of baby spinach on the sourdough bun tasting far better than standard lettuce ever thought to. And I found myself wishing I hadn't ordered the burger with mayo; the avocado was so slick and buttery that the burger didn't need any condiments. Who needs cheese on a burger when you can have sweetly unctuous avocado? What I was most impressed with was the way the entire thing held together, though I could have gone for a rarer center to my patty and a bit more juice from it...but that well could have been the burger structure's undoing.

The sweet potato fries on the side were standard stuff, but you can get regular fries, onion rings, chips, mashed potatoes or a whole host of other starchy stuff on the side instead if sweet potato fries aren't your thing.

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The daily dessert, however, was an outrageously good red velvet cupcake from Dessert Gallery. Harper said that if and when Facundo expands, he wants to start baking his own desserts. For now, though, I'd say that ordering from Dessert Gallery is a pretty good compromise (not to mention a great show of support for a fellow small business).

And while I'm counting the hours until I can get back to Facundo, I'm debating whether to make it a lunch visit or a breakfast visit. Yes, Facundo serves breakfast as well. And the croissant with bacon and the French toast are both calling my name today.



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Location Info

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Facundo Cafe

3103 Ella, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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17 comments
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Planb214
Planb214

The food is awesome and now you can have a nice cold beer or glass of wine with your food.

Angelam
Angelam

Love that place!!!! - Great Service and Great Food!!!

Me
Me

Im here. Danny is cool. I told them I read the review. They remembered you, but didn't know the blog dropped yet. I said they should print it and hang it...oh! My burger is here. Mmm I gtg, this looks wicked g00d!

Auldlangirl
Auldlangirl

...and they said they'd can the corny Christian music; that they only played it for the Huckabee dudes with the bumperstickers on the Suburbans.

KP
KP

I've been intrigued by the mango fish taco sign too, but by the time I see it, my taste buds have already committed to Petrol.

Mitzivonerp
Mitzivonerp

Having imbibed the petrol, you might treat yourself to a fish taco with fresh onions instead of mango. That way, some internal combustion will be all yours, as your car sputters and fades, indebted to your for drinking its gas.

OK
OK

Thanks for the heads up on the religious nuttery. Guess this is a burger I'll have to miss.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I specifically didn't mention it in the post because I don't want that to turn people on or off of the food. The food is independent of that. And I honestly believe that choosing a place based on the religion of the owners is awful, base discrimination.

Meagandough
Meagandough

Sorta like dismissing the mediocrity of Taste of Texas because they are wing nuts....

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Such a random place! Love it!

DensmoreAng
DensmoreAng

Yeah, prob wont find it at CultureMap or the Chon... so random!

Jamie
Jamie

If you like Jesus, then you'll love this place.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Yeah, the religious epithets and signs were a bit much, even for me. But they don't seem as in-your-face in the grill/restaurant area. Although I wished to God (heh) they would play something other than KSBJ over the speakers.

jacktyler
jacktyler

I'll have to admit that I would have missed that one.

Consuelo
Consuelo

Worry not Jack: Christie's on Westheimer now does oil changes and brake service and even some body work...all while you eat!They even offer a discount on fryer oil if you have a Willie Nelson type vehicle...and trust me, they have a lot of fryer oil.

jacktyler
jacktyler

OOOOH!.... Broiled flounder, Oysters Rockekeller and an oil change... and only a short distance from my house. Thanks, Consuelo.

Cheflambo
Cheflambo

OMG ... I can walk to this place from my house. Thanks for the heads-up! There's a BK and a McD in the same block -- I hope Facundo kicks their butts. If you ever need help checking out the other items on the menu, let me know.

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