The Great Burger Quest

It’s about time I make my burger quest official. And by official, I suppose I mean write a blog post about it. The following list is in no particular order, other than alphabetical.

Enjoy…slash, provecho!

8 oz. Burger Bar – Seattle, WA

Upon exiting the jetway at Sea-Tac, I pulled out my laptop and Googled “best grass-fed burger Seattle.” 8 oz. Burger Bar received excellent reviews & was in the direction I was headed toward, so off I went.

I ordered regular cheeseburger and it did not disappoint. The beef, bun & toppings all tasted so fresh. The ketchup rocked my world like no other condiment has ever done; I’ve never tasted a ketchup so flavorful and pure. The ketchup is from Portlandia Foods and comprises all organic and all recognizable ingredients.

The only downside of the burger is its behemoth stature. This burger is HUGE and the bun:burger ratio is a little off. AKA, the bun & toppings without a doubt played second fiddle to the gargantuan bun. The burger itself was delicious, just really difficult to keep together after the first bite.

8_oz_burger

All Star Burger – Bee Cave, Texas

This particular burger is called “The West.”  Let this be known: the garlic cilantro cream cheese spread on this burger is a small slice of heaven. It really transforms the burger from great to 350% fantastic. The ratio of bun:burger is on par. The meat tastes fresh & comes from artificial growth hormone and antibiotic free 100% vegetarian-fed cows. All Star also uses local farms and vendors which is oh so lovely.

The only critique I have regards ambiance. For being located in a strip mall, the overall ambiance is not bad; however, the restaurant is consistently chock-full of  kids/families/teens. I imagine this is right on par for the Hill Country Galleria demographic, but for a 20 something duo, it’s not a perfect fit.

Ambiance aside, this burger is without a doubt in the running for the best burger. (: Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 11.29.47 PM

Annie’s Cafe & Bar – Austin, TX

Each year I pass through upward of 25 airports. And when you spend that much time in airports (slash, anywhere), you begin noticing trends & formulate observations.

Because I’m pretty anal about nutrition, food is one of the things I spend the most time observing. One of the main reasons that I love the Austin airport is because there are a number locally sourced and organic options – Annie’s being one.

My only “complaint” (if you could call it that) is the size of the burger. The burger is massive and my heart broke a little when I had to throw 1/2 of it away. The size would have been fine if I was heading home afterward, but attempting to cart a drippy 1/2 eaten burger on an airplane seems like a recipe for disaster.

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 7.35.13 PM

Black Star Co-op

The delicious taste of the beef is what immediately stood out. Black Star uses locally sourced no hormone no antibiotic beef. The burger includes house-made beer mustard, which was a little too salty for my taste, but otherwise, this burger was fantastic. Great burger:bun:ingredient ratio, the fries were fantastic and the ambiance had a very laid-back-Portlandia-crunchy-granola-let’s-grow-heirloom-tomatoes-in-our-backyard type vibe.

black_star_coop

Common Roots Cafe – Minneapolis, MN

In terms of presentation, I think this grass-fed burger takes the cake. Honestly, words can’t do the burger justice, so I’ll let the picture do the talking. (:

Like many of the other restaurants mentioned, I really liked that CRC uses local produce/ingredients from local farms whenever possible for a number of reasons, including nutritional and economical.

common roots cafe

Counter Cafe – Austin, TX

I like that Counter Cafe uses many local & organic ingredients, such as the beef and the lettuce on this burger. What I didn’t like about this burger was that they used the white part of the lettuce. No matter how local or how organic, no one likes the white part of lettuce.

Overall, the burger was satisfactory. To be completely honest, my overall Counter Cafe experience was scarred (figuratively and slightly literally) when the waitress spilled piping hot coffee on me and pretended like nothing happened, even after my “OMG, Ow! Ow! Ow!” reaction. It was a bizarre interaction that I have to image was isolated but…probably won’t be back soon.

counter_cafe

County Line – Austin, TX

This burger tasted ok, but the meat isn’t grass-fed, and consuming grass-fed, not grain-fed meat is really important to me.

That aside, I’ve always really enjoyed the County Line ambiance – a nice mix of charming, old-timey and Austin weird.

county_line

Drink.Well. – Austin, TX

This burger was by far the skinniest and tallest of them all. While I guess you could say it looked kind of cool, it was a logistical nightmare. As soon as the burger was brought out, I immediately thought of this commercial and wondered if there was any way I could adapt the “taco neck” into a “burger neck” strategy. (…the answer turned out to be no).

drink_well

Eastside Cafe – Austin, TX

A farm-to-table cafe located in a renovated east Austin house. Everything about the ambiance – the homey feel, the lighting and the chatter volume was just perfect.

The burger: The beef was all natural and tasted moist but not drippy. The balance between condiments, toppings and burger was good as well.

If I could change one thing, I’d make the patty and bun thinner because the burger was about 27 feet tall and, well, tall burgers can be a logistical nightmare.

Eastside_cafe

Homemade – Austin, TX

Well…seeing as we made it, I don’t have any major critique as, well, we chose all of the ingredients. Everything on the burger is grass-fed and organic. The icing on the cake is the absolute hands-down best cheddar cheese in the entire world: Tillamook.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 11.28.48 PM

Hopdoddy – Austin, TX

On the note of Tillamook cheese, let’s talk about Hopdoddy! Hopdoddy is one of the few restaurants down here in Austin to use Tillamook and for this alone, 100 bonus points shall be granted. (:

A little drippy for my taste, but otherwise, Hopdoddy’s burgers (comprising all natural and fresh ingredients) never disappoint:

hopdoddy

Jack Allen’s Kitchen – Austin, TX

I think this burger can mostly speak for itself. Wowsa.

One thing I really like about Jack Allen’s is the tactful yet obvious stress on fresh, locally sourced food (i.e. not in an annoying foodie hipster way.)

jack_allens

Justine’s Brasserie – Austin, TX

Honestly…it was a “meh” burger. The burger was extremely drippy…as in, to the point of soaking through the bun. The meat tasted much more like ground beef for a meatball than meat for a hamburger.

Justine's

Root Down – Denver, CO

I simply love airports that offer restaurants with high quality organic, natural and local food. These types of airports are few and far between but DIA, shoutout goes to you for having options. Root Down is a “field to fork” restaurant with a mission too neat to not directly quote:

“Root Down aims to connect the neighborhood to a dining experience in the same way ingredients are connected to food. There should be a seamless bond between the elements and experience, which stimulates the senses and draws people in.”

For whatever reason, I opted to try the veggie burger. While it tasted great for a veggie burger, I think I’ve learned that between a veggie and regular burger, the regular burger without question always wins. The toppings tasted flavorful and fresh. Sweet potato fries were served with the burger. Like the veggie vs. meat situation – they were good, but if given the option, I prefer regular fries over sweet potato fries any day of the week.

root_down

Sandy’s Hamburgers – Austin, TX

You’re certainly not going to get a quality burger in terms of ingredients or taste, but what you will get is the experience of an old-timey, borderline janky hamburger stand.

sandys

Where have you found your favorite burger?

Summer Days

Un poquito mas of verano en Austin.

1 lb. of veggies topped with 1 lb. of potatoes, topped with 1 lb. of fried chicken, topped with 1 lb. of gravy. Dinner at ZTejas:

Jack Allen’s makes an insane burger:

Lunch at Frank:

Whip In:

Texas-sized frog.

At first glance, I thought this frog was a rock, so I figured I’d kick the “rock” out of the way of traffic/bikers… About 2 inches before my shoe made contact with the “rock”, I heard a loud “RIBBIT!!”. As if to say: “WTF are you doing?! I’m a frog! Don’t hurt me!!!” The frog jumped about 2 feet in the air, which caused me to jump about 27 feet in the air, screaming: “jesus christ! oh dear god. that is NOT a rock!!”.

Rudy’s:

Sno-beach:

Time with my piano:

Early AM walk/run. No other way to do it in this insane Texas heat:

Once Upon An Adventure To Boerne, Texas

After just being in Reno for a week, anything involving fresh air and natural light sounded good in my book. Plus it was David’s birthday…what better way to celebrate but submerge ourselves into the earth?

There are a number of cavern tours around central Texas – I decided on Cascade Caverns. The other ones seemed a bit more commercialized, whereas this one seemed most down to earth (I am so punny).

On the way there, guess what we passed?

If you guessed “a Greek monastery!” welp, you are correct!  I have absolutely no idea how there is a Greek monastery in the middle of nowhere Texas, but there is. And here’s proof:

η αγάπη ζει Ελλάδα!

After our quick Greek monastery detour, we arrived:

Watch out, he’ll getcha:

The tour was great and we really lucked out – the tour before us had about 10 people and the tour after had about 246 boyscouts. Our tour had David and me. FTW!

See that cement looking hole in the middle of the picture below? That is a hole leading down to another cave. They offer a tour in which you must SWIM out to that hole, then lower yourself down the hole to cave. Did I mention the water is freezing? (Obviously I am not the target audience for this escapade).

Y ya! One our later and we surfaced from the cave (the tour was awesome!). This was the first thing we saw when exiting the cave. I wonder how old this sign is? If I owned that sign, I might consider taking it on Antiques Roadshow.

Part 2 of the day involved eating a burger. Something you might or might not know about me is that I love hamburgers. Luckily, David also loves hamburgers. After much Texas hamburger research, I found the perfect place to go. It’s a little cafe, literally in the middle of nowhere, called Alamo Springs Cafe:

Here’s what I ordered:

Ha. Totes kidding. As much as I love burgers and as much as I love challenges, I just can’t be ok with eating my weight in / vomiting my weight in hamburgers. Gross? Perhaps. True? Absolutely.

So we settled with this bad boy:

I would not consider myself a foodie/food snob, but I’ve got to say, this burger was pretty out of this world. Out of all the burgers I’ve consumed, this one makes the top 5 list. In fact, I am getting hungry, right now at 4:14 am, for one of these burgers. They are that good.

Back to Austin we went – time for the grand finale – birthday cake! And by birthday cake, I mean peanut butter mint paradise bakery cookie ice cream cake.

Interlude: David’s favorite cookies in the entire world are from Paradise Bakery. Unfortunately, there are no PB locations in Texas. Fortunately, I was in Phoenix the day before. There is a PB in the Phoenix airport. I had exactly one hour between flights to make it through the terminal, find PB, get the cookies, go back through security, back through the terminal and to my gate. Let’s just say I amazing raced my way through Sky Harbor. Success ensued. 

Back to the cake. Here is it! Sadly, I forgot to grab a picture before digging in. Thankfully, it was because the cake turned out so well, we couldn’t wait to dig in!

Pun-Offs & Burgers

This weekend, I attended my first pun-off.

This round’s topic was a category involving the solar system:

And this round’s topic was bedroom furniture:

This dog was wearing a candy necklace:

After leaving the pun-off, we stopped by Downtown Burgers, a burger-selling food trailer!

The burger was good… The bun wasn’t too thick. The tomatos were freshly cut. The burger wasn’t so packed, it fell apart 1/2 way through.

And the staff at Downtown Burger was awesome. In fact, the guy making the burger, slash the guy whom I believe owns DB, came out and chatted with us for about ten minutes. And by chatted w us, I mean, he was cracking us up for about 10 minutes straight.

Anyway, here’s a beautiful picture of the burger, followed by a beautiful picture of the french fries: