The Rest of the Best: The Top Ten Burgers in Houston 2013

lankfordburgerr.jpg
Photo by Troy Fields
The Grim Burger at Lankford Grocery inspires thoughts of a delicious burger-y death.

Our 2013 Best of Houston issue is here, and in many cases, picking the best item in many of the categories was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we'll be rounding up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories during the next several months. Bon appétitt!

Speaking of no easy task, on to burgers.

When you search "burgers" on our blog, you get 2,615 entries. That's how much we love burgers. We write about them alllll the time. There are a lot of them in this town, too -- far more than ten -- but this list is comprised of the ten very best burgers around, from the plain janes to the totally out there.

I may have complained about gourmet burgers in the past, but that was before I encountered all that Houston has to offer, burger-wise. This city is a veritable playground for the wondrous and the whimsical in burger-making.

So, without further ado, these are our top ten favorites from around Houston. We know you have your favorites too. So come on, let us have it in the comments.

littlebigsburger.JPG
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
The sliders from Little Bigs are all fantastic, but the beef is the cream of the crop.
10. Little Bigs
Yes, the beefy treats here are sliders, not full-on burgers, but there's something to be said for a slider that gets it so right that even the most ardent burger fanatics will come around when they taste it. The hamburger slider (Little Bigs offers a number of other sliders as well, like pulled pork or black bean) is the picture of simple perfection. A three-ounce fresh-ground beef patty (never frozen) that's owner Bryan Caswell's own recipe is perched on a light, yeasty roll then topped with caramelized onions. If you want anything else on your slider, there's a condiment and topping bar with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mustard, sriracha and the like. But I doubt you'll even remember it's there once you bite into that juicy little slider.

delfriscosgrilleburger.jpg
Photo from Del Frisco's Grille
Best chain burger in Houston, mark my words.
9. Del Frisco's Grille
I know it's a chain, but hear me out. The Grille Prime Cheeseburger is far better than the average steakhouse chain offering. It's not what I'd call a gourmet burger, though, for the simple fact that there's nothing on it that you wouldn't find on a fast food burger. It's two thin and crispy (but juicy in the middle) beef patties made steak trimmings and ground prime brisket. Each USDA prime burger is topped with an oozy yellow cheese blend, lettuce, tomatoes and a homemade "sloppy sauce" reminiscent of Thousand Island dressing. I always thought that barbecue was the best thing one could do with brisket. Friends, I was so wrong. This is brisket at it best.

Location Info

Del Frisco's Grille

2800 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Little Bigs

2703 Montrose, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bernie's Burger Bus

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cottonwood

3422 N. Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Down House

1801 Yale, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Lankford Grocery and Market

88 Dennis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Hay Merchant

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Underbelly

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Plonk Beer & Wine Bistro

1214 W. 43rd St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
59 comments
jzweimar
jzweimar

Huskys Burgers and Subs should be on the list as they made the Houston Press Best Burger and Family Restaurant voting in 2013. You can build your own burger there by selecting your bread, meat and toppings. The classic burger is just the right combination of size and ingredients for a balanced taste but you can build it up big as you want. My personal favorite is the Hawaii Burger with pineapple and their special sauce.      

wardlarkin
wardlarkin

I know this sounds strange, but Kenny & Ziggy's New York Deli serves the best hamburger in Houston. I've been going to Kenny & Ziggy's for years, but a few days ago was the first time that I had a hamburger there -- absolutely amazing.

Loona_c
Loona_c

Stanton's should be on the list.  Great hole in the wall with terrific burgers.  The buns are awesome (and I'm a low carb kinda gal) and the juice drips down your arms.  Bubba's is also a great hole in the wall with buffalo burgers.   Little Bigs is a disappointment.  Dry, small, boring;shouldn't be on the list.

HoustonianFoodie
HoustonianFoodie

Little Bigs? Please! They used to be good. They used to freshly grind their own meat, now they buy it preformed. Caswell has lost his way, all in the name of money. He's a sellout!

imac2much
imac2much

Interesting list, but I'm surprised that there is no mention in the article of in the comments of Jonathan's The Rub.  They still serve my favorite burgers after trying dozens of different places in Houston.  I haven't tried most of the places on this list though, so I appreciate the diversity.  I generally don't agree with many of the choices in top ten lists, but that's why we all have our own opinions :)  I think some people just get offended because they see the article title and believe the list must be objectively "the best", which of course is impossible.

I do agree with other commenters that Burger Guys and Rainbow Lodge should be on the list!  I do feel Burger Guys has dropped in quality over the last couple years, but maybe that's because I go to the downtown location more now than the original location (which obviously will change now that the DT is closed)

My personal top 5:

1) Jonathan's The Rub (any burger!)

2) Rainbow Lodge's Wild Game burger

3) Lankford's Firehouse burger

4) Bernie's Burger Bus' Fire Drill

5) Burger Guys' Lancaster

HTownChowDown
HTownChowDown

Burgers are a big thing here, and everyone's tastes are different. But a few of your choices made me scratch my head.. 

Little Bigs sliders? They're OK, but not much different than what you can order at a dozen chain restaurants around town. Their milkshakes rock, though.

Lankford is doing what they've been doing forever, but they've not stepped up their game while the burger world has changed around them. (Same with Christian's). It's nostalgic, but it's not in the upper tier of Houston burgers anymore.

Also, expand your search a bit father beyond the Loop, and you'll find The Burger Guys, Hubbell & Hudson Bistro, Tookie's, the Shack in Cypress, etc. If you want to really cover the food scene in Houston, you're going to be doing some driving.

gregwalsh4
gregwalsh4

this list is way off. you got a couple right but for you to put del friscos grille on there proves your ignorance, that place alone makes the whole list illegitimate. how dare you put a place that obviously serves patties that are no different than sysco frozen patties!!! and im not convinced they arent!!! their lamb burger alone shows how much that place doesn't care about food. its nothing more than a meat market for the pathetic and wanna be famous, the food is an after thought  as long they sell plenty of pineapple vodka shots!!!! any person in this town who knows anything about food would never give that place any consideration. i've lived in this town and been in the industry for too long, and for you to promote that places food.... i would have to assume they are paying you on the side. that is another place that is really hurting the food scene in houston. sullivans (owned by the same company) did the same thing and thats why they closed the jazz bar because it attracted a crowd who took up tables and couldnt afford the menu or the tip. thats why the whole upper kirby district is taking a hit. once del frisco grille loses its allure to those who love those pineapple vodka shots it will go the way of katsuya. 

Kaitlin, 

i appreciate what you do but the fact that you arent even aware of the smoked burgers at guys meat market really shows you shouldnt be putting out a top ten list of burgers let alone anything. guys has been around for decades. saying some of the places you put on this list is above a houston institution that the fearless critics gave a 92 is like saying bucca di peppo is above tony's!!! please do your research and try everything this town has to offer in each category before you put out any lists. i have a feeling you are either new to houston or grew up in one of the suburban bubbles outside the beltway. remember the dirtiest places have money left over to buy and cook better product and they hhave too be good to pay rent.. those who spend millions on renovations and are owned by corporations like the lone star steakhouse out of north carolina who own del friscos and sullivans yet use a texan name for their business typically only care about the bottom line. NOT THE FOOD. i will say double eagle is yummy though. i only feel so strongly about this cause seriously the burger was the first thing i ate at the grille and it was absolute garbage, i tried two more times and ive never had anything over mediocre there. i will never go back because the crowd is just as bad as the food

Stuart48
Stuart48

Where is Ms Chilcutt? This column has gone down hill. Cheap shots with no resarch. Should be better.

himmad
himmad

M&M grill should have been on here

sg747
sg747

You really put Downhouse on this list? God I loathe that place... 

Amanda Port
Amanda Port

Hard to take this list seriously when The Petrol Station and The Burger Guys aren't on it...

Nicholas Dion
Nicholas Dion

I think you should have let someone, perhaps Mai Pham, who has spent more than a few months in Houston author this list.

Old_Crank
Old_Crank

Curious if Guy's Meat Market's smoked burger gets any love around here. I don't know that it belongs in a top ten, especially with all the new specialty joints that have rolled out burgers in the last few years, but it's such a unique experience it deserves at least some kind of honorable mention.

Joseph Tres Once Guevara
Joseph Tres Once Guevara

lankford groceries wasn't that good. i would try the green chile burger from whataburger rather than that place. you're welcome everybody

anil3618
anil3618

So stupid whoever the front end designer is of this article, post 1 restaurant each page to get more clicks. Just give me a list, lame.  Good list but what about Stantons city bites???

jennytulltx
jennytulltx

We saw Lankford Grocery on Diners Driveins and Dives and drove from far western Harris County to try it out.  At the end of the trip, our response was "Yep, that was a hamburger."  I swore then to never go out of my way for a hamburger again, because a hamburger is a hamburger is a hamburger.

ComicBookGuy
ComicBookGuy

My first impression of the Cease-and-Desist burger was, "why am I paying premium for a fast food burger?"

My second impression was, "WOW, this is a great burger!"  

It looks like fast food but the flavors and textures are terrific.  Top notch burger.

wadfw
wadfw

Am I alone in not being a fan of the extra thick meat patty, most of these sound pretty tasty but it's just too much meat.

willwalsh1
willwalsh1

Although it was admittedly a strike of brilliance, I'm glad you didn't take my suggestion to write about the Whataburger A1 Thick and Hearty Burger as a "your late-night masturbatory hamburger". Despite it's undeniable thickness and heartiness........ Muff-Burger. 

Nicholas Dion
Nicholas Dion

The following thought has been on my mind since the hiring of Ms./Mrs. Steinberg; it has been rather pleasant to watch you learn about the food scene in Houston. However, aside from Mai Pham, whom understands Houston's scene, Ms./Mrs. Steinberg clearly has some catching up to do. Houstonia writers > Allison Cook > K Steinberg.

robinkirby69
robinkirby69

Little Bitty Burger Barn , Millers, Mytiburger are my 3 favorites ;)

gregwalsh4
gregwalsh4

and you missed christians tailgate and stantons i mean hell they were on that travel channel burger show like 2 months ago

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Stuart48 It's Shilcutt, and she's now working at Houstonia magazine. Thanks for reading anyway!

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Old_Crank I actually haven't even heard of it, so thanks for putting it on my radar!

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@anil3618 Hey now, there are TWO restaurants per page! Studies show that people don't like to scroll, that's all. But I appreciate the input.

entroposloc
entroposloc

@anil3618 It's my understanding that after so many wins, restaurants get retired from these lists. 


Houstess
Houstess

@jennytulltx And those hamburgers are overrated.  We only went once also.  My last meal would be a burger from Christian's Tailgate.  It IS worth the drive.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@wadfw Try Little Bigs or Del Frisco's Grille. Both of those patties are on the more thin and crispy side. 

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@txjboy1 Number one will be revealed tomorrow. It was chosen by a freelancer before I started here, but I think it's a great choice!

pocoroba1
pocoroba1

And Houstonia got it right when Stanton's burger was recently featured on their cover, obviously benefiting from Shillcutt's arrival. The Press? A miserable failure with this list. Little Big over Stanton's? Please switch departments at the Press.

Rbentley
Rbentley

@Houstess 

Agree, Lankford was remarkable about 10 years ago. Now it's just cruising along on its mediocrity and oldsters finding something 'cool' inside the loop

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@willwalsh1 @KaitlinS Haha yes, I just discovered it while looking for my notes on another restaurant. 

"Whataburger: If it vibrated, it would be number one."

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