My First Taste of Bernie's Burger Bus

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Photos by Mai Pham
Are you salivating yet? My first Bernie's Bus Burger: The Homeroom.
What's bright yellow, has four wheels and could be mistaken for a school bus at a quick glance? In Houston, that would be the ultra-gourmet burger joint by the name of Bernie's Burger Bus. And if you haven't yet tried it, you're seriously missing out.

I'd heard great things about Bernie's, but what really got my attention was the fact that it took the top spot as this year's Houston Press Burger Bracket winner. (Which led to their recent invitation to participate in the World Food Championships in Las Vegas.) Still, it took me several months of hearing about Bernie's before I decided to chase it down, mainly because I was too lazy to figure out where I could find it.

That's the tough thing about food trucks. If you're one of those people who get cravings and follow those whims, like me, it's not as easy as going directly to a specific brick-and-mortar location whenever the craving hits you. If you don't know a particular food truck's schedule, you have to find them on Twitter, Facebook or their Web page and figure out exactly where the truck is parked.

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Looks like a school bus, but it's a gourmet burger joint on wheels.
For Inner Loopers, there are several locations where food trucks usually park: Bo Concept, Inversion Coffee on Montrose, Soundwaves, MFAH, the new H-E-B on Dunlavy and West Alabama, Agora Coffee House, Grand Prize Bar (inside the kitchen). The problem is, the trucks rotate locations, so just because you saw it parked in one spot on one day doesn't mean it will be parked there the next.

Luckily for me, on the night that I was craving burgers, I checked Twitter, then their Web site, www.berniesburgerbus.com, to find them parked at Inversion Coffee House. Inversion is convenient because there's usually ample parking, and you can eat inside the coffeehouse (and benefit from the air conditioning) or sit at one of the tables outside.

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Truffle fries. Uh, yes please!
Bernie's Menu is fun and catchy. Each burger has a school-themed name. The Principal is their classic American burger with all the trimmings. The Substitute has blue cheese, bacon, mushrooms and caramelized onions. The Bully is a big one, with two signature patties and all the trimmings, and so on.

It was a tough decision, but eventually I opted for the Homeroom, a single-patty burger topped with applewood bacon, cheddar, caramelized onions, chipotle aioli and a fried egg. My friend got the Substitute, sans blue cheese. We got a side order of truffle fries to share.

They said it would take about ten minutes for us to get the burgers, so we headed inside to get some coffee drinks, and came back outside to pick up our burgers.

My friend's Substitute was mouthwatering to look at, too.
I don't know what I expected when I unwrapped my burger, but I have to tell you that the glistening, fluffy bun and thick, heavy patty were a sight to behold, worthy of most sit-down restaurants and putting many to shame.

The patty looked to be about a half pound or more, and the toppings were applied generously. My friend's mushrooms oozed out of her burger as she took a bite. My egg- and bacon-topped burger was also bursting at the seams.

The very generous portion of truffle fries was also excellent. The thin-cut fries were crispy, the truffle oil applied with restraint so that the aroma was not overpowering.

As I got to the second half of the burger, it started to fall apart in my hands. The bun broke apart, the meat and insides were falling apart everywhere. My hands were a gooey mess of whatever condiments had been applied coupled with juice that had oozed from the patty -- and I couldn't have been happier. If only all burgers were that delicious.



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Location Info

Bernie's Burger Bus

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Inversion

1953 Montrose, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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28 comments
Careener
Careener

I've been trying a lot of specialty burger places lately and would say that neither of my recent trips to Bernie's Burger Bus were top tier. I prefer Langford Grocery, Hubcap Grill, Little Bitty Burger Barn, and the Burger Guys. Christian's Tailgate is good too.

eortz
eortz

Why do the buns look wet?  Usually means the bread is falling apart before you can finish the burger.

Trainer
Trainer

One of the few buses I go out of my way to find. I'm never disappointed.

 

Aggie_Kelli
Aggie_Kelli

You should try the Dirty Burger from Zilla Street Eats when they come back this month!

entroposloc
entroposloc

My favorite specialty burger bus. For awesome straight up burgers go to Stanton's on Houston Ave. 

 

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

If you spent more time eating the burger instead of thinking about it , the thing would be down your throat long before it began to fall apart!

Kagan34
Kagan34

....EOW....step up, here? 

Sounds like a fun event that would be educational to all, humiliating to some.

jimbo1126
jimbo1126

My last two Bernie's burgers have been absolutely atrocious. They start to fall apart before the first bite and become an unappealing, inedible mess. Sure do wish I lived closer to Hubcap.

del.martinis
del.martinis topcommenter

I know what you mean about having to find them when you need them!  I was about to go there and then I see this review that makes me want to hunt them down even more.  Yea..hold the not so real truffle oil ...there should be a fried in duck fat option instead. 

TosshiTX
TosshiTX

Probably my favorite burger. If I wasn't trying to lose weight I would probably be eating here every week.

ronsutton1776
ronsutton1776

I don't understand the appeal of drippy, sloppy burgers.

 

The whole point of a burger is that you can eat it with your hands without getting messy.  That is what the bun is for!  If your hamburger is falling apart it's due to bad bread or a burger stuffed too full with too many sloppy toppings.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

 @Careener I made a special trip to Christian's Tailgate after a whole table of guys at a scotch dinner told me it was their favorite place. I thought it was good, large, solid burger, but not as good as Bernie's. Burger Guys is a good burger. The sear on the akaushi patty is "magic" and the foie burger is crazy good. Mockingbird Bistro's burger is also excellent, imho, but right now my favorite is the Rainbow Lodge Wild Game burger, especially when they have avocado pico as a topping. Sadly, I have yet to try Langford Grocery, Hubcap Grill, Little Bitty Burger Barn. They've all been written about in the past -- but they are all on my "must try" list. 

del.martinis
del.martinis topcommenter

 @Careener  Thanks for the tip Careener!   I know it's almost always based on each other's preferences.. it's still good to hear what people say.  Was about to eliminate Burger Guys for example after this and the YELP reviews, but I keep hearing how good they are, so that's were my quest will begin after all!      

auslander
auslander

 @FattyFatBastard  sigh....you should read of the reactionary snobbism that's been pervasive for years now that many American foodies have discovered truffle oil. "oh, truffle oil--how declasse! bring me the real thing, I have a grater here in my coat pocket, by jove!"

Mai Pham
Mai Pham topcommenter

 @ronsutton1776 Everyone likes their burgers a certain way. If I had a choice, I like a medium rare patty, still dripping in juices. I like mine juicy. Bernie's bun was fluffy and obviously fresh, if a little more "bread-y" than I would have liked, but it was a good complement to the thick, juicy patty. It soaked up a lot of the juices and got a little soggy as I was chatting with my friend. I bet if I'd inhaled it, it would have stood up much better. Empirically, an all-around delicious burger. 

fidelio
fidelio

 @kshilcutt  @Kagan34 Sponsoring a tasting challenge, a throwdown of sorts, pitting a dish flavored with real truffles or truffle oil made with real truffles, against one flavored with truffle oil that's scented with 2,4-Dithiapentane. An interesting idea if one bears no resemblance to the other, as is claimed here.

del.martinis
del.martinis topcommenter

 @auslander  @FattyFatBastard 

Problem is, truffle oil isn't even made from truffles. It's made from an organic compound called 2,4-Dithiapentane—derived either naturally or from a petroleum base—mixed together with olive oil.

auslander
auslander

 @FattyFatBastard  @del.martinis I'm willing to defend the proposition that you couldn't tell the real thing from a good truffle oil using a synthetic scent agent. I'll bet you ten thousand bucks, as one phoney recently challenged.

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