First Look at Hubcap Grill and Beer Garden in the Heights

IMG - Cheeseburger.jpg
Photo by John Suh
The cheeseburger: how I judge a burger joint
I'd never had a taste of Hubcap Grill before, so when they opened up their new grill and beer garden in the Heights last week, it moved to the top of my list of places to try.

A few days ago, the temperature was over one hundred, and when I realized I'd have to stand outside in line to order, I was skeptical the food would be worth the sweat. Luckily, the line wasn't too long, and we managed to put in an order after about seven minutes. Not bad, but I can only imagine how long the lines are on weekends.

IMG - Fries.jpg
Photo by John Suh
Hangover fries without the hangover are just as good.
Immediately after ordering, we ducked inside with our drinks to soak up some A/C and wait for the food. The inside, which seats about 20, is a rather stark room with fluorescent lighting and mostly bare walls.

The layout of the whole place is a little strange -- the interior is not visibly connected to the kitchen, so you'd have to re-exit to retrieve your food at the pick-up window located next to the order window. The music broadcasted out to the diners on the patio deck is nowhere to be heard indoors; sitting inside not only means feeling disconnected from the camaraderie going on outside but also possibly missing your number being called and thus your food.

The picnic tables outside are definitely the place to be, but I appreciate that Hubcap Grill offers an indoor air-conditioned alternative. Come fall though, everyone will be fighting for a spot on the deck.

Not only does Hubcap Grill serve tasty all-American burgers (and some not-so-American, like the Greek burger with olives and feta), they have a selection of bottled craft brews. And if beer isn't your thing, there are old-fashioned sodas in a bottle, from Stewart's root beer and orange 'n cream to Coca-Cola Classic.

A order came out in about ten minutes. The Hangover Fries came recommended to us by an employee: hand-cut potatoes smothered in chili with an over-easy egg on top. Each forkful was delicious, although I couldn't help wishing I had caramelized onions and some sharp cheddar in the mix.


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Hubcap Grill

1133 W. 19th, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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34 comments
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Markbaker0720
Markbaker0720

Very good Hamburgers. Unfortunately they are very arrogant and not at all service oriented. Being sick with Hepatitis C I tend to not have much of an appetite; In addition it frustrates me and makes me mad to see homeless people digging in the trash for food. As a result of both of these things I have made a habit out of asking that my Hamburgers be cut in half (so I can offer a clean un-chewed up piece of food to someone who is hungry). Well, don't try that at the HubCap Café! Without mincing words they will tell you that they DO NOT CUT THEIR HAMBURGERS. When asked for justification they will tell you that someone complained once about the ingredients falling out; so their solution is to not give service to anyone (Clever business strategy!). If you have any problem with all this they will just tell you to not come back (Literally, that is exactly what he told me)!!! Well, I have never in my life done this but I and fed up with this so I intend to spend as much time as I can exposing their arrogance to anyone who will listen. I will continue to do this until they understand that good food is just half of the game

John Seaborn Gray
John Seaborn Gray

I had a Sticky Monkey Burger while I was hung over and it helped. It was also delicious. (I also had the Hangover Fries. They were fantastic.)

Bart
Bart

I live like 3 blocks away from the Heights location and decided to give it a try last Saturday (might have been Friday or Sunday) at around 2:30 p.m.  Somehow, I'd never heard of the downtown location, but I was still excited to have a local burger joint close to the house. 

When I showed up, they were closed.  There were people inside, clearly prepping food and doing all the other things you need to run a restaurant--even a couple of managerial types were running around.  I stared at them, in vain, for about five minutes (eye contact!), until it was obvious they were ignoring me.  There was no sign indicating their operating hours--no way to tell when they would re-open.  So instead I drove 100 yards to Cedar Creek and ate a very mediocre sandwich.

Now, I get it...most employees of most businesses aren't going to rush out to tend to a customer when they're closed.  But, it was the middle of the afternoon on a weekend.  I'm not asking for much, but how about letting the public know when you're actually selling shit?  I want to come back.  I want to eat your supposedly delicious burgers.  Just tell me when.  I live around the block.  I will consume your goods.  I will patronize your establishment.  Please, tell me.

This is my supporting evidence that the refusal to accept credit cards is a refusal to prioritize customer service--although I understand the arguments for not accepting them.  What most businesses do (quite reasonably) is raise the price of their products to cover the 3% rip the CC companies charge them.  Considering how much people seem to like the burgers at Hubcap, I don't think anyone would mind paying an extra eighteen cents per burger.

ec
ec

The meat looks dried out to me.  The one time I went, the bread was soggy and fell apart.  That is a BIG turnoff.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

So, I a burger from the Hubcap Grill burger truck outside of Liberty Station one night. Do they use the same buns on the truck? Is it the same burger? It's the only Hubcap Grill Burger I've had. I tried it because everyone was tweeting about how great Hubcap is, but when I had it, it was just an average burger at best. I don't remember anything remarkable about the bun or the patty, and it wasn't juicy. Tell me what I'm missing.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

I had a burger from the truck as well, with similar results.  And then I had their burger at that final 4 thing.  I think there's a reason they ousted the truck.  I suggest you try the Heights location.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Fair enough. Would you echo the sentiment that the Philly Cheesesteak is the one to try? 

Eric S
Eric S

Philly Cheesesteak is good. The important thing is NOT to get a single patty burger or cheeseburger. It's too thin for the bun. Hubcap really shines when there's a double patty, hot dog or some other component to enhance the meat.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

I haven't had that one, but it looks damn good.  I suggest going with a friend and ordering two different ones, and then splitting them.

Azheatcpl
Azheatcpl

how over rated whos gonna  eat out side at 100 and credit cards are the cost of doing buisness him and his dad are cheap!

csoakley
csoakley

Isn't this the point in the comment thread where you are supposed to shill for the Little Bitty Burger Barn? You're letting us down, sir.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Slightly off-topic, but if you ever do decide to go back for a JITB Ultimate cheeseburger, get it on sourdough bread.  Trust me.

Cowgirlblues2
Cowgirlblues2

Another thumbs up for Ricky Craig, who has been thoughtful enough to put recycle bins everywhere for our use.  

Jay Francis
Jay Francis

Hubcap is the only place I will have a burger in town. Ricky's hamburger bun recipe is the best.  One thing I hope that he does. Right now, the back yard is unprotected from the afternoon sun and I think that may hurt future business.  I'd love to see him take a cue from Cedar Creek and Onion Creek, research into some fast growing trees (ash ?) and plant a whole mess of trees around the perimeter and inside the back yard. It will be so nice there in a year or two if he does this.

Archie Leach
Archie Leach

Off topic-I noticed a sign that reads EAT has been added to the new empty building on the corner of 11th and Studewood.  Any idea on what this is going to be?  I miss the tamale place it used to be some years ago cause I could go for a tamale but without all the work.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

That's going to be Liberty Kitchen, from the same team that did Glass Wall and BRC.

csoakley
csoakley

Their Philly and Greek burgers are the best. Didn't like the Sticky but that's just me. This place is the best in town. Hubcap is the J-Lo of Houston burger joints; their buns put them over the top.

TQro
TQro

Like!  Agree regarding the buns.  Philly, Greek, Frito Pie!

Brian Poirier
Brian Poirier

I've been a fan of the DT location - if I am in the area for courthouse work and they are open, I hit them for the Philly Cheesesteak burger.  I'd like to see a comparison on how the new location burgers compare to the original.

BP
BP

I found the bacon cheeseburger at the Heights location to be exactly the same as the one downtown.

trisch
trisch

Where's the cheese on that cheeseburger? And for real they wouldn't serve your pickles on the side? That seriously gives me pause about trying this place (what if I just really prefer to eat my pickles on the side?). But those thick juicy-looking patties have me salivating. Need. Burger. Soon.

Christine Ha
Christine Ha

You know, now that I think about it, I think they forgot to put cheese on my burger. I was too busy tasting the meat and bun to even notice, though, so I guess that's a good sign for Hubcap. Maybe they were pissed I asked for pickles on the side and threw out my cheese altogether.

William
William

Start taking credit cards. This is the 21st century and if you are skirting the issue because of tax reasons, that shit will catch up to you.

Guest
Guest

Maybe he should buy an ATM and put it in in his new digs? There, now he makes money on cash transactions and then some. Don't shoot me! 

Scott Lynch
Scott Lynch

...he takes debit transactions at 19th and has an ATM at the downtown locale. :facepalm:

barleyvine
barleyvine

They aren't skirting the issues becuase of tax reasons they don't want to lose money. Well unless every customer paying with a credit card is willing to pay more money per burger.  That would work.

Scott Lynch
Scott Lynch

Except that wouldn't work, because the credit card processors specifically forbid that sort of thing. Spec's gets away with it by advertising it as a "discount for cash", but generally... that's a grey area. The rate on credit card transactions (unless it's changed) is around 3%. Might not sound like much, but that's a 3% cut into your profit margin, no matter how you look at it.

Besides... unless Ricky is having trouble bringing in enough customers (and it sure as hell doesn't seem like he is), what exactly would he gain by accepting credit cards?

s3mh
s3mh

It is actually against the law to charge a credit customer more than a cash customer.  I wonder who lobbied for that rule?

I kind of like cash only restaurants.  Keeps the expense account types away and has an old timey feel. 

barleyvine
barleyvine

Good clarification Scott, didn't know that about the credit cards.  Agree, not accepting credit cards hasn't hurt them at all.

Scott Lynch
Scott Lynch

My go-to order for a while (at the Downtown location anyway) has been a sticky burger with sweet potato fries, but if I'm feeling particularly ravenous... Frito pie burger and cheese fries. I've never had a bad meal at Hubcap, and have no problem waiting 30-40 minutes for a burger there.

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