The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Burgers

El Real Burger 003 c.jpg
Does that burger have Fritos and refried beans on top? Yes. Welcome to Texas.
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.

Houston has a lot of burgers. A lot. We could do a dozen different Top 10 posts on just the different styles: gourmet, steakhouse, fast-food, burger stand, veggie, old-fashioned -- you get the drift.

Instead of that, we've picked 10 of our favorites from around the city that all represent the many different styles you can find in Houston. If you like burgers, you're guaranteed to find at least one burger that's "your type" on the list.

If not, you know the drill: Yell at us in the comments section until you feel better.

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10. Cream Burger

The burgers at this Third Ward drive-up can most accurately be described as the kind of stuff that Whataburger would make if it were still a one-restaurant operation in Corpus Christi. The buns and patties are thin and slightly crispy. The cheese is gooey and melty. And the burger is slathered with healthy amounts of onions, shredded lettuce and mustard. This is a true Texas burger. And in true Texas style, don't forget to order a Frito pie on the side.

9. Petrol Station

Petrol's burger would be higher up on the list if it didn't take so damn long to get the bartenders' attention there to order it, and if it didn't take so damn long to come out. Burger and a pint night on Mondays are the most popular time to order Petrol's huge, craggy burger topped with salty Cheddar cheese -- which also means you'll be in for a hell of a wait. The craft beer bar gets bonus points for also offering one of the tastiest lamb burgers in town.

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Photo by Troy Fields
8. Green Seed Vegan

Unlike bean- or tofu-based patties, the Dirty Burque burger is mostly buckwheat, a pseudo-cereal that's high in protein and better known as kasha (as in kasha varnishkas), the base of Japanese soba noodles. The patty is made from scratch -- like everything else at Houston's only vegan food truck -- and is naturally gluten-free. The buckwheat patty is studded with colorful chunks of vegetables, from orange bell peppers to green flares of bright cilantro. On top you'll find buttery slices of avocado, peppery arugula, raw white onion, a tangy spread of egg-free mayonnaise and a New Mexican-style green chile sauce that's tart and slightly hot.

7. Down House

Down House doesn't do everything right, but it does make a mean burger. Its Longhorn burger is the stuff of sweaty-foreheaded, dilated-pupil, burger dreams. The patty tastes of nothing but sweet, buttery beef with a hint of salt, served on a fresh, yeasty bun. And instead of interfering with that driving, meaty flavor, the other ingredients simply complement it like a chorus of backup singers whose sole purpose is to make the star shine even brighter: Longhorn cheddar, peppery arugula, ripe tomatoes and house-made mustard thick with whole grains of mustard seeds that pop and sizzle against the beef.


Location Info

Venue

Map

The Petrol Station

985 Wakefield, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Green Seed Vegan

2305 Wheeler, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Down House

1801 Yale, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

El Real Tex-Mex Cafe

1201 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Hubcap Grill

1111 Prairie St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Branch Water Tavern - CLOSED

510 Shepherd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Little Bitty Burger Barn

5503 Pinemont Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Burger Guys - CLOSED

12225 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Plonk Beer & Wine Bistro

1214 W. 43rd St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
63 comments
SoftShellCrabJunkie
SoftShellCrabJunkie

Katherine, thanks for your great lists! Here's a suggestion for future lists of sandwiches or burgers: Include a sharp photo (for each restaurant!) showing the sandwich/burger cut in half. As you mentioned, there are a variety of burger "categories" - photos would immediately show what type of burgers you were reviewing. Thanks!

channelview25
channelview25

All of you people r full of shot....didn't.nobody mention the best.burger spot in Houston....damn shame......all I can say is champ burger is down right bestburger spot taste.and for your.money!

David Zhu
David Zhu

No Bernie's Burger Bus.....?  Are you kidding me?  This list is a joke

Maed75
Maed75

 It is disappointing to see soo many  people wanting to be food nerd, foodie, food critic, etc. Yet they miss out so many other places that can easily be superior. I wonder how some are able to get a spot writing an article, i wonder even more seeing a lot of comments from other people as well. There will always be disagreement, but lack of sampling research around town should be a big NO before publicly making comment or critic,..."The Burger Palace and Block 7" have by far better burger than the places mentioned here. (i have sampled already all the places in the list and more).

Meh
Meh

The sliders on the bar menu at Le Mistral are some of the best hamburgers in town.As much as we love the dining room the sliders are calling to us on a regular basis.

Guest
Guest

You forgot Christian's Tailgate and Lankford's, so this list fails. They will be here, still making great burgers when most of those on the list are looooooong gone.

Also, El Real? Seriously? FFS!

SirRon
SirRon

Block 7 burger > BWT burger. Bone appetite that.

Bigtommyb
Bigtommyb

Did you include Robb Walsh's joint in order to keep up the comp tab of ritas and enchilladas?  Your list is as bad as your personal fem hygene.  Do you have 8x10 glossies of your boss in compromised positions?  You need to leave now!

herb
herb

peep the meat wagon's roasted poblano and chevre burger. blows them all outta the water.

Amy
Amy

Thanks for including a veggie burger in the list. However, I think Houston is almost ready now for a "best vegetarian burger" list now.

Yardstrutter
Yardstrutter

Thanks Katharine for the kind words about our Guanciale Burger. For those of you who have not been to Plonk!, I invite you to try us & introduce yourselves. Chef Erin & I are always anxious to meet & serve new guests and listen to what they think. We'll even give you a tour of the kitchen and explain in detail how we make our burgers (it's a drinking tour). With so many great burgers in the area, we are honored to be mentioned (and we look forward to trying them all)! Cheers! Scott & Team Plonk!

furioso ateo
furioso ateo

It's new on the scene, so I get why it wouldn't be on there, but a burger I had from the Meat Wagon, the Moontower Inn food truck, was the best goddamn burger I've ever had in my entire life. TRU FAX.

Buccatini
Buccatini

Rudyard's Pub in Waugh has a great burger!

chely
chely

WUNSCHE BRO. IN OLD TOWN SPRING

Moni1996
Moni1996

TOOKIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You forget TOOKIES Squealer & 99 Burgers.

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

I definitely have to add Mel's in Tomball - North Side, Remember us - to the mix.TA

Chance
Chance

The Burger Palace (Sage and West Al) deserves mention as well. I have been twice and both trips have yielded an outstanding burger.

Well done on the parks and rec reference. Ron swanson is one of my favorite tv characters of all time.

H_e_x
H_e_x

The veggie burger isn't as good as many of the others people have mentioned. Its not fair to lower the standards just to let a veggie burger in.

Grocerylist
Grocerylist

I 2nd the burger at Ninfa's on Navigation

CameronByars
CameronByars

Ditto on Bernie's Burger Bus. They are my favorite! Can't believe they are not on this list.

Carlos Closinhtown
Carlos Closinhtown

Ittty bitty burger barn is seriously overrated. Plain jane dry patty's. Wasn't impressed. You could have put 5 Guys in their place.

Jennifer Groves
Jennifer Groves

Red Lion's burger is fantastic, especially with stilton. Yum.

David laRock
David laRock

Kathrine, You owe it to yourself to check out two more burgers that I am sure will hit your list for 2012!  1. Lankford Grocery has a great burger - 88 Dennis St. and 2. The Hideaway  @ 3122 Dunvale Rd. has a great bacon cheeseburger.

Aaron
Aaron

Christian's in the Heights has a new bacon bacon burger - a must try! And yes, the Buffalo Burger at Bubba's - the best "thin" burger in Houston.

Leeanita13
Leeanita13

You forgot Pappas Burgers and Christian's

Mike Burcham
Mike Burcham

NO BURGER BUS!? Are you outta your mind?

JarrodJM
JarrodJM

Missing notables: Buffalo burger at Bubba's Texas Burger Shack, Bernie's Burger Bus, Happy Hour burger at Mockingbird, Jonathan's the Rub, Fajita burger at Ninfa's. (think of this list as honorable mentions)

Potlicker
Potlicker

Bravo to the Houston Press Food Critic for including a veggie burger in this list. You are a brave woman and are to be commended for your willingness to think and write differently.

Eric S
Eric S

Glad to see the immediate commenter reaction mirrors my own. Bernie's Burger Bus makes one of my absolute favorite burgers, and they deserve to be mentioned in any burger ranking. 

Also, the chorizo burger at Xuco Xicana is really tasty. If you haven't tried it, it's worth checking out.

Finally, color me amused that Houston Press burger bracket winner Jonathan's the Rub didn't make the cut.

SoftShellCrabJunkie
SoftShellCrabJunkie

Maed75, Thanks for your suggestions! So envious you've sampled all these places!

furioso ateo
furioso ateo

Dude, have you actually had the El Real burger? I'll admit the food there is hot/cold in quality normally, but that burger is damned awesome.

Hugh Ramsey
Hugh Ramsey

Lankford kind of sucks these days.

There, I said it.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Block 7's house ground rib-eye burger was awesome when I had it, so I second your mention, SirRon! So was RDG's burger on Slow Dough bun dusted with chestnut powder. So was Burger Palace's akaushi with Slow Dough challah bun, so was Down House's Sabra Ranch burger with Slow Dough challah bun. Interesting there is no mention of Max's Wine Dive Burger (reportedly excellent if you want a fancy burger though I still have yet to try it) but I also noticed that there is a wide price range of burgers in this list. Maybe next year you can do a Top 10 under $10 and Top 10 under $20...the burger prices have been creeping up lately into the 10+ range with these akaushi, kobe, grass-fed beef patties (which are all in the $12-13-15 range), which makes the Burger Guys $8 akaushi burger and Mockingbird Bistro's $9 happy hour kobe burger a steal!

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Just a reminder to keep comments as polite as possible, on topic and without reference to any of our writers' genitals. Thanks, guys.

J_son0823
J_son0823

Yes indeed. I used to crave Bernies burger until I had theirs

Corey
Corey

Was better when it was a serious hole in the wall, like back in the 80's.. Grew up around the corner, good times..

Jerry Edward Hamric
Jerry Edward Hamric

I ate at Tookie's just the other day, and as a long time fan of the place, I was disappointed after anxiously waiting for the reopening. My standard burger there has usually been the salsa and jalapeno burger, advertised as "hot" on the menu. My burger was bland, the tasteless salsa only made the bun soggy without adding any flavor, and the jalapeno condiment used was anything but hot. Bland, soggy, flavorless and disappointing ... what more can I say?

Guest
Guest

Yep. What he said! I can think of at least 5 - 6 other places not mentioned that should have been on the list, but were not included just to put in some "rabbit burger". HERETIC!!!!!

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

One person's opinion and all that, but I genuinely love that Dirty Burque and would put it up against a meat-based burger any day. Some meat-based burgers will definitively beat it, Ron Swanson-style, but many more wouldn't. There are lots of regular ol' beef burgers in Houston that couldn't take down the Dirty Burque...for my money, at least.

Matthew
Matthew

their monday cheeseburger deal is maybe the best burger deal in the city.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I've eaten at Lankford nearly my entire life, and am an admitted fan of its Grim Burger. And its biscuits and gravy on the weekends... But I've never been to The Hideaway -- I'll give it a try soon!

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Damn.  You petty much added everyone I thought was missing on the list.  I'll just throw in Christian's Tailgate because I would think it would also be in any sane person's top 10 in Houston.

wms
wms

Bubba's Buffalo Chili Burger = YUM!

Matthew
Matthew

LOVE the fajita burger

Star
Star

You must remember the bracket winner was picked by the people who attended the event. 

Maedlarez
Maedlarez

Good comment + observation, it is disappointing to see soo many  people wanting to be food nerd, foodie, food critic, etc. Yet they miss out so many other places that can easily be superior. I wonder how some are able to get a spot writing an article, i wonder even more seeing a lot of comments from other people as well. There will always be disagreement, but lack of sampling research around town should be a big NO before publicly making comment or critic,..."The Burger Palace and Block 7" have by far better burger than the places mentioned here! Your observation in price range also good fact to considering,.....Touche! on your comment......Glad to see there is actually honest objective  food people out there.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Sorry, but if you go to Max's and order anything but the fried egg sandwich, you are doing yourself a disservice.

stwilhelm
stwilhelm

Katherine -- please do!  Not only do that make a rockin' burger, but they have a great chicken fried rib eye steak!!!  Their steak night is the best in town. 

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