Burgers Off the Beaten Path: Blake's BBQ and Burgers

Categories: Burger Break

Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
I read somewhere once -- I'm pretty sure it was in Hamburger America, by George Motz -- that Blake's BBQ and Burgers was erected when the street it's on out here in west Houston was just a simple dirt road. I can believe that. Although Jeanetta is now fully paved, the restaurant still looks like a place removed from space and time -- like Blanco's, a honky tonk in a surreal River Oak setting, or as if someone dropped Greune Hall into an office park.

See also:
- Burgers Off the Beaten Path: Stomp's vs. Tookie's
- Burgers Off the Beaten Path: Taqueria Taconmadre
- Burgers Off the Beaten Path: Chief's Cajun Snack Shack

Inside, Blake's BBQ is equally reminiscent of a quieter, gentler time. A time when people painted murals of dusty West Texas towns inside their restaurants and decorated with old wagon wheels. It seems a given that great barbecue should come from such a place -- and from such an esteemed pitmaster as Don Blake.

But what about a great burger?

As the name would suggest, you can get that too. Along with a few scoops of ice cream from another local legend: Hank's Ice Cream Parlor, which sends over a few tubs of its best-selling flavors to Blake's each week.

I do suggest, however, that you follow the instructions laid out by former Houston Press food critic Robb Walsh when ordering a burger at Blake's.

"If you just walk up to the counter and order a hamburger at Blake's, you are apt to get a dried-out piece of meat," Walsh wrote in a review of the joint back in 2007. " The secret was specifying my burger 'medium rare to rare.'"

I failed to complete this crucial step and was presented with a burger that was cooked past the point of well done. This dampened my enthusiasm but -- oddly -- didn't prevent me from enjoying the burger regardless. The well-seasoned meat was to thank for that, thick with black pepper and crusty with a char that reminded me of a finely smoked brisket. Salty strips of bacon and Cheddar fused to the patty, which was placed on top of several layers of cool, crunchy produce. Texturally speaking, it was a joy to plow through.

I was less impressed with the mealy steak fries served on the side, but the Frito pie I'd ordered as a standby did the trick -- complete with two bags of the corn chips served on the side for extra crunch. It didn't save me room for ice cream, unfortunately, but that's what the next trip out to Blake's is for.

That, and to finally try the barbecue.

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Location Info

Blake's BBQ and Burgers

2916 Jeanetta, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Unless those are grass-fed, the place is overcooking them in the first place.  Grain fed burgers are far too greasy at anything less than medium wellness, and this comes from someone who loves medium rare on my other beef fare.

Bruce_Are topcommenter

Whataburger also cooks the bejeezus out of their burgers but people still like them. I mention this because I recently did my annual Whataburger taste test. Conclusion: dried out burger, pink tomato, cubes of lettuce, minimal onion, all of which play second fiddle to yellow mustard. Strengths: Better bun than most fast food places.


@FattyFatBastard  I find your generalization about grass fed v grain fed and cooking temperatures rather pedantic. What are you talking about exactly?

timblack2 topcommenter

@Bruce_Are Sooooooo true. I've said this for decades. Whataburgers are dry as hell but people look at me like I've blasphemed. And Walsh is right, you need to get it rare or medium rare at Blake's...and I think the extra 25 cents for the grilled onions is totally worth it too.

FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@essenvolljetzt Your use of the word pedantic is wrong, but good for you for trying!

 I'm guessing you've never had grain-fed beef to ask such a question.  Please find one when you can.  i know elevation burger has them.



And you're certain that it was the diet of grain v grass that was the difference? You've isolated that one variable, among all the other possibilities. You're a true man of science!

FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@Bruce_Are @FattyFatBastard @markS22 @essenvolljetzt  Stating, or hell, even thinking that grain fed beef is essentially the same as grass fed beef is wrong.  And anyone who has ever tried the two side by side would know this.  Especially at a medium rare temperature.  The grain-fed is far fattier and simply soaks into the bun and then falls apart as you eat it.  Grass-fed beef gets a perfect pink hue in the center and yet holds firm on the exterior without the tendency to crumble or ruin the bun.  The last time I tried these side by side was at Tesar's, which now is closed, unfortunately.  I am willing to find a place in town that I'm sure would have good variations of both, if anyone would like to challenge this assessment.

Bruce_Are topcommenter

@FattyFatBastard @markS22 @essenvolljetzt 

Fatty, you lost this one. I don't see what's wrong with the way "pedantic" was used.  But that's not why you lost. You lost because you accused them of being wrong, but never stated your reasons.  Same for the dif about grass v grain fed beef. You can do better than that, I think.


@FattyFatBastard @essenvolljetzt  

Actually your reply is equally pedantic, and incorrect about the word being misused. And your explanation about grain-fed beef v grass-fed is equally amorphous as your original post. 

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