Houston has an unusually strong burger culture that has entered a sort of golden age, with fine new joints popping up every other month. Here’s a guide to the city’s top burger specialists, followed by a short list of restaurant burgers worth seeking out.
Hubcap Burger Grill
Big old hand-formed patties, fantastic ciabatta-like buns and owner Ricky Craig’s wild combos make this a must-stop for connoisseurs. Terrific hand-cut fries, too. Two locations: A downtown hole in the wall (1111 Prairie, 713-223-5885) and a more spacious beer-garden setting in the Heights (1133 W. 19th, 713-862-0555). The downtown location is cash only, but there’s an ATM on-site; debit cards and cash are accepted in the Heights.
The Burger Guys
Almost everything is made from scratch at this chef-driven west-side spot. Hand-formed patties from Texas-raised Akaushi beef, duck-fat French fries, hand-spun shakes in ingenious flavors, and a dizzying array of dipping sauces and condiments, 12225 Westheimer, 281-497-4897.
Bernie's Burger Bus
This bright new school bus turns out wonderful, charry, grass-fed Angus burgers and what may be the city’s best hand-cut french fries. Blue-cheese burger kills. Condiments are made in-house by chef-owner Justin Turner. Find the bus by calling or texting 281-386-2447 or following the bus on Twitter: @BerniesBurgers. Location varies, 281-386-2447.
Sparkle Hamburger Spot
This robin’s egg blue stand just east of downtown offers sprawling, soulful cheeseburgers (try them with chili) and massive onion rings. Walk-up only, with a few tables for outdoor seating. 1515 Dowling, 713-225-8044.
Classic Texas funk. Purists adore the original Washington icehouse for its monumental burgers and onion rings, but the more central Midtown location makes a mean open-faced chiliburger, too. 7340 Washington, 713-864-9744; 2000 Bagby, 713-527-0261; 2820 White Oak, 713-863-1207.
Bubba's Texas Burger Shack
Just south of the Galleria, this hidden gem makes a juicy buffalo cheeseburger. Small-town icehouse atmosphere, local Saint Arnold beers and outdoor seating add to the appeal. 5230 Westpark, 713-661-1622.
Outstanding burgers at restaurants with wider menus:
Sit at the bar for the magnificent Kobe-style blue-cheese burger with Parmesan fries to dip in garlicky aioli. It’s perfect. 1985 Welch, 713-533-0200.
This casual South American spot does an outrageously delicious half-pound burger trimmed with silky provolone, smoked mustard, jalapeño mayo and a dice of pickled red onion and tomato. Great skinny sweet-potato fries or yucca fries, plus all the chimichurri you can eat. 5114 Kirby at Bissonet, 713-522-5888.
This homey Texas roadhouse makes fine half-pound Angus burgers, hand-cut fries and onion strings. Shakes are of regional favorite Blue Bell ice cream; frozen margaritas are cheap and surprisingly good. 9041 Katy Freeway, 713-827-1811.
Perry & Sons Market & Grill
This trim southeast-side meat market features in-store dining and a gloriously oozy house-ground Angus burger that’s among the best in town. Try the Texas burger with pickled jalapeños, cheddar and sautéed onions. Skip the fries in favor of onion rings. 12830 Scarsdale, 281-481-5214; 614 S. Friendswood Drive, Friendswood, 281-482-2842.
A sleek wine bar setting for a very pure dry-aged burger with artisanal trappings: mustard-spiked aioli, onion-bacon jam, Gruyère cheese, brioche bun and arugula. Twelve bucks and worth it. Have it with herbed fries and a good red wine. 720 Shepherd, 713-572-2565.
Max's Wine Dive
The Wagyu cheeseburger on a brioche bun sheds juices everywhere. Get it with Texas cheddar, caramelized onions and fresh-cut fries. It’s 22 bucks and kinda-sorta worth it. Lively, roll-up-your-sleeves Texas wine bar setting. 4720 Washington, 713-880-8737.