Famous Texans on Their Favorite Burgers
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Yes, even famous people have favorite burgers. And since the hamburger was invented right here in Texas, we decided to ask a few famous Texans to tell us their stories about their favorite burger experiences.
Miss Texas 2008, Miss Congeniality in Miss America 2009
Lives in Dallas
I grew up on a ranch in East Texas—we raise Angus—and my dad is a cattle rancher. We call burgers at the Robinson house “Robbie burgers.” They’re about two and a half inches thick, and I love mine with a big, rare-to-medium-rare patty, top bun with mustard, bottom bun with mayonnaise, two or three slices of red onion, crisp lettuce, and cheese, of course. You put it together and it’s just a stomach popper.
Now, in my travels across Texas, I’ve eaten at many, many burger joints, and I have favorites in more than one city. In Dallas, there’s Jakes and Burger House, and in Austin, I like Hut’s. If I’m ever going through Waco, I like Health Camp. In Fort Worth, Fred’s is a total dive where you get, like, ten pounds of fries with your burger. It’s on Currie near Seventh. But really, my top-ranking joint is in College Station, where I went to school. It’s the Chicken Oil Company. The little house I lived in is literally two blocks north of it, and we would go about twice a week. Needless to say, I got my hefty share of burgers in college. [Note: Midland oilman Clayton Williams, another Aggie, also recalled the Chicken Oil Co.: “The very best burger is their Death Burger. It’s “death” because of the jalapeños on it, and it is good. Whenever I’m in College Station, it’s understood that I’ll have one.”] As Told To David Courtney
Retired Texas Ranger
Lives in Alpine
A good burger has to have a thick, juicy patty, some fresh tomato, onion, mustard, and sliced dill pickles. No mayonnaise for me. The bun has to be warmed up and toasty on the inside. I like my burger to have pickled jalapeños and a slice of American cheese melted on top. When you put all that on there, it’s like a Dagwood-style burger. You look at it and think, “Can I fit all that in my mouth?” You shouldn’t ever bother with those chain restaurants. When you get down to it, none of them make a burger like some little old cafe in a small town somewhere, like the Fusion or Alicia’s, here in Alpine. As Told To Pamela Colloff
Little Joe Hernandez
Lives in Temple
Little Joe Hernandez
I grew up on the R&B circuit: rice and beans. And some potatoes. A hamburger was a luxury. But there was a spot here in Temple, on the alley by Cheeves Bros. Department Store, that I remember from going downtown with my mom. It was next to a loan office run by a nice old gentleman who the Chicanos all called El Pelón, because he was bald, and my mother would take me when she went to make our payment. I was ten years old, and I didn’t understand the hardship of having to pay that money. I’d just get excited about that burger. It was cheap, greasy, and good, maybe 15 cents, and I’d order mine fully loaded. There was always a line to get in. The place was small and narrow, and it maybe sat ten to twelve people, on stools at a long counter. There weren’t but a few Chicano families in Temple then, so it’d be mostly white people. There were some places in town that said “No Mexicans,” but not there. People in ties, people in jeans, it didn’t matter. Everybody loved those burgers. As Told To John Spong
Texas Railroad Commission member
Lives in Austin
Growing up in Midland, I went to the Polka Dot for burgers. It was on the south side, across the street from Carver High School, and it was great. It was where all the big kids went. The burgers had ground pepper. That’s what I remember: the ground pepper. Now my favorite place is Al’s Hamburgers, in Arlington. They serve an old-fashioned burger, with a good-sized slab of beef, and for me they load it up with onions and lettuce and tomatoes. Soft bread. I don’t feel strongly about toasting the bun, but it does have to be soft. Mustard, no mayo. I just love it—it reminds me of when I was little. I’m not supposed to be eating meat much these days, but I actually just ate there yesterday. My wife doesn’t know that. As Told To Katharyn Rodemann
Lives outside Fort Worth
When I was in school at Monnig Junior High, in Fort Worth, we would all go to Goff’s on Camp Bowie Boulevard after football games. Oh, my God, those were the best bacon burgers. People don’t have any idea of what burgers used to be. Now my favorite place is Tommy’s Hamburger Grill, because they have a great veggie burger. I haven’t eaten red meat since my twenties, but I have lapsed on occasion. I ride cutting horses, and one time at a show in Oklahoma, my trainer, Bill Freeman, said to me, “How can you be a cutter and not eat meat? This is all about the cattle business.” I ended up eating a burger that day. Shortly afterward, I had to go to Kincaid’s to eat another one. [Note: Actor Bill Paxton, who also grew up in Fort Worth, was another fan of Goff’s: “All Fort Worth westsiders of baby boomer age have a fond childhood memory of that place. Charbroiled with all the fixin’s!”] As Told To Katharyn Rodemann
Former coach of the Houston Oilers
Lives in Goliad
When I was coaching the Oilers, we used to go to a place in Rosenberg that put avocado, cheese, and bacon on its burgers, and that was pretty good. It was near where I kept my cutting horses, on FM 359. It was called Friends, which was the right name for it, because that’s what the people there were, friends. A fast-food place just fixes a burger; they just want to sell it to you. Friends wanted you to enjoy it. So we went all the time, and we took anybody who we were close with: Dan Pastorini, Kenny Stabler. They had steaks and everything else you could want, but I wanted a hamburger. As Told To John Spong