An Ode to the Classic Texas-Style Roadside Burger

Categories: Burger Break

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Photo by Troy Fields
Mytiburger is about as classically Texan as it gets.
What's a roadside burger without a glass of Kool-Aid to wash it down? At C&D Burger Shoppe, you can have the uber-American kids' drink with your skinny, Texas burger and a side of Frito pie, too. The burger shop, open since the early 1980s, used to be a Dairy Queen before Joe Craddock bought it and turned it into a neighborhood hotspot. As noted in our review of the place, many Houstonians recall eating at C&D nearly every night when they were in high school on the southeast side of town. Though the menu has options beyond burgers and Frito pie, those are the best bets here.

There are a few other burger stands in town that, like the ones already mentioned, serve a mean roadside burger that makes you long to hop in the car and chow down as you head west toward some unknown destination. Places like Cream Burger, which has been open for "decades," though no one can say exactly how many. The burgers here taste half of beef and half of sinus-clearing vinegar, thanks to the heap of pickles and onions and generous smear of mustard that nestle between the patty and the top bun. And places like Shuttle Burgers & More, whose crumbly, hand-formed patties are served with a side of tacky, space-aged memorabilia like photos of shuttle launches and astronaut crews.

When I called to ask what year Shuttle Burgers opened, the person on the other end of the line laughed. "Ummm...no one really knows," she said, as if referring to something that was not a concrete event once upon a time, but a scientific mystery yet to be solved. "At least 30 years, I think. Probably. Yeah, no one knows."

That's the things about these historic burger shops. They survive when newer restaurants serving foie gras-topped burgers with artisan buns fail, but no one remembers the specifics. What's important are fleeting moments spent inhaling a burger while leaning against the building or in the car after a long, hard day at work. What's important are the families who still run the joints, and the way the thin, greasy patties haven't changed a lick since they made their debut so many years ago.

Here's to you, Texas-style, guilty pleasure burgers. May you never change.

Location Info

Champ Burger

304 Sampson St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Mytiburger

2211 W. 43rd St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Burger Park

6704 Martin Luther King Jr Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bellaire Broiler Burger

5216 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, TX

Category: Restaurant

C & D Burger Shoppe

10606 Fuqua St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cream Burger

3481 Elgin St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Shuttle Burgers & More

8405 Almeda Genoa Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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21 comments
markie19
markie19 topcommenter


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guurl
guurl

If you ever get to Clear Lake/Webster, go to Carlos Beer Garden for a burger...it is worthy of this list, just a good old-fashioned BURGER

rogerscorpion
rogerscorpion

What's the connection to the other MytiBurger, on Kempwood? Anyone know? Are they franchises?

CR250
CR250

Kaitlin, spot on.  I love Two M's Malt'n Burger in Rosenberg, a true roadside burger joint.  Yes,  Texas Burgers as we call them are awesome.  ( I am tired of gourmet hamburgers) Also throw in Someburger on 11th and Studewood and Roznovsky's on TC Jester and 34th.  And, I do miss me some Otto's Double Meat burgers. 

Mrs. Baird's bun, buttered and toasted on the grill, grilled thin patty, shredded iceberg lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle, mustard.   Simple, awesome. 

Anse
Anse

To the poster below who called McDonald's the "gold standard for cheap burgers"--pardon me while I retch. It's almost comparable to the hipster who drinks Lone Star, as if he is sincere in his love for beer that tastes like stale urine.


McDonald's is the gold standard for mass production. Their food is a marvel of technological advancement. Michael Pollan described their french fries as the "Platonic ideal". And therein lies the reality of McDonald's: their burgers aren't so much perfection, as they are the Xerox copy of perfection. It's like that movie Pleasantville, where the mayor bowls a 300 every time. At some point you get bored and you wonder if maybe you aren't being taken for a dope.


I will compare them to one of my favorite fast food burgers, made by the Someburger hamburger stand at 11th and Studewood in the Heights. There is something slightly slapdash about a Someburger, and yet at their best, they are careful constructions of toasted bun, crispy-on-the-edges thin patty, and an interplay of varying textures provided by the vegetables. I'm totally over-intellectualizing what is most emphatically not an intellectual experience. But that's one of the appeals.


Whatever people want to make of her brief history of the fast food burger, I do think it is worth making a distinction between the franchises and the neighborhood joints. Not every little independent shop is great, nor is every franchise terrible (I'm partial to Dairy Queen myself), but these aren't complex expressions of high cuisine. There's more going on here than just the burger. Given a choice between McDonald's or a local joint, I'll take the locals every time.



Konstantin Gelman
Konstantin Gelman

Bubbas Burger Shake under Westpark toll Rd and Rice. All day.

Philip Moore
Philip Moore

Johnna Rey you can't eat this in Hellifornia.

VenerableAsp
VenerableAsp

Bellaire Broiler Burger really dates back to the late 50s or early 60s -- It began as Brittain's Broiler Burger. Used to have a location at Westbury Square, too. Same basic concept, same basic menu.

Nate
Nate

"This is the Texas-style burger, the kind you used to get a drive-thrus and roadside stands before fast food empires took over the landscape, serving poor excuses for cheap burgers that eventually created backlash and led to the gourmet burger."


This is an interesting thesis, one seemingly unsupported by facts.  McDonald's was a huge presence by the 1960's and 1970's.  How many people reading this article have memories of getting burgers before fast food empires took over the land?  Certainly not the author.  And by "eventually", do you mean 40 plus years?  That is a long time for backlash to finally manifest.


I would also argue that McDonald's does not serve a poor excuse for a cheap burger.  They serve the gold standard for cheap burgers.  The McDouble is a good burger, especially for $1.19.


But foodies love to hate McDonald's (and chain restaurants).  McDonald's commerical success would indicate that McDonald's serves a good cheap burger, and that whatever backlash exists, is small and ineffective.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@VenerableAsp Oh cool, thanks for the info! The earliest I could find was 1972, but that makes sense cause of the name change.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Nate I actually do remember driving through small towns in Texas that only had roadside burger stands. They've now mostly been bought out by fast food companies who can pay more for the land.

bettyvatel
bettyvatel

@Nate The author is forever trying to "elevate" her writing on this site, and whenever she does she sounds ridiculous. 

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@KaitlinS @Nate You cannot find a small town in Texas without a Sonic or a DQ.  I experimented with trying to find a town without these 20 years ago.  It couldn't be done.


nate
nate

@KaitlinS @Nate Oh, you can still drive through small towns today without McDonald's or Wendy's or Burger Kings.  But fast food empires "took over the landscape" by the 1970's.  And why throw out the "pay more for the land" assertion?  Is there a land shortage in small towns with only room for a McDonald's or road side stand, but not both?  Or is there another reason why chains are more commercially successful beside their ability to pay more for land?

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@FattyFatBastard @KaitlinS @Nate My parents live in Canyon Lake, and there's no DQ or Sonic there. A DQ shows up on the map, but anyone from Canyon Lake or nearby Sattler will tell you that's Startzville, not Canyon Lake, contrary to what Google Maps claims :)

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@nate @KaitlinS @Nate I won't argue that people love their fast food restaurants, and that's what makes them successful. They can pay more and they bring in more money. But I maintain even our beloved Whataburgers don't stack up against the food at Mytiburger or Champ Burger, quality-wise. They're more successful because they're cheaper, and you get the same food at each one of them no matter where you are. I personally don't think it's as good, but it's consistent, and that's admirable.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@KaitlinS @FattyFatBastard @Nate Bet you there's one within 30 miles.  When you're in a small town, that kinda counts.  I always found that there was a large enough town every 30 miles that had the two.  But you're right, I should've stated that. 

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