The 50 Greatest Hamburgers In Texas

A gastro-scientific inquiry into the finest burgers in the state that invented the burger, including the Toro (#4), the Stodg (#6), the Miss Hattie (#28), and, in our top slot, a miracle of meat served only on Sundays. No wonder they call it the Lord’s day.

August 2009By Comments

Bacon and Bleu Cheese Burger, Dutch’s, Fort Worth
Photograph by Matthew Rainwaters

Barbecued brisket, chicken-fried steak, and tacos aside, there is no more iconic Texas food than the hamburger. Not only was the most famous American sandwich invented here, but every day, we Texans consume burgers by the millions. Which is why Texas Monthly concluded some six months ago that it was high time we published the definitive story celebrating this indigenous food and identifying the fifty greatest examples currently being served. That such a story had never before greased, er, graced these pages seemed inexplicable.

Almost immediately, we understood the omission. The task was impossible! Everybody who wrote, called, or stopped us in the hallway had a different favorite burger. (For fun we also asked a bunch of notable Texans for their top picks.) Sure, the names of classic joints kept popping up, but basically people nominated their neighborhood favorites. It was as if we had asked, “Who’s the best kid in Texas?” The answer’s always “Mine, of course.” (Editors’ note: To be clear, “The Fifty Best Kids in Texas” will not be featured in an upcoming issue; please do not send nominations.)

We boiled down these recommendations, plus everything else our research turned up, into a list of candidates ranging from the ultrasimple to the über-swanky. For patriotic and aesthetic reasons (and to maintain our sanity), we eliminated national chains and urban steakhouses. Our 31 valiant tasters covered 12,343 miles, visited 253 restaurants, and gained a cumulative 45 pounds.

The results were startling. Legions of legendary places—Dirty Martin’s, Nau’s, Kincaid’s, Chris Madrid’s, Adair’s, Bellaire Broiler Burger—had failed to score in the top fifty. Though plenty of old-school joints did appear, the thin-patty, no-nonsense burger of bygone days was routinely upstaged by a buxom, tricked-out twenty-first-century iteration.

The conclusion? This is what happens when you go for quality over nostalgia. In seeking burgers that stopped us in our tracks, we left some hallowed names in the dust. Undoubtedly, burger-loving readers will be outraged at a few of our picks and misses, but so be it. Here begins our list of the fifty best hamburgers in Texas. PATRICIA SHARPE AND JAKE SILVERSTEIN

No. 1
Classic Cheeseburger
$12 (Fries are included in this price.)
The Grape, Dallas

Not to take the Lord’s name in vain, but if ever there were a burger that could sitteth at the right hand of the Almighty, this would be the one. We sweareth. This is a celestial sandwich in every tiny detail. The meat, ground in-house, is ten ounces of high-quality chuck-eye (renowned for having the best fat-to-lean ratio). The peppered bacon is cured on-site. The slightly sweet bun hails from a local bakery. Are you getting the picture? Are your salivary glands in Pavlovian mode? Let us rave on: The lettuce is Texas hydroponic Bibb, just the tender inner leaves; the Lemley tomato has achieved ideal ripeness. White cheddar cheese oozes across the meat patty, melding irresistibly with the Dijonnaise blend that has been swiped across the amply buttered, crisply toasted bread. Is there a drawback? Just one: Unless your mouth is the size of Julia Roberts’s, you’ll need to press this tower down to a manageable height before attempting to stuff your face. The Grape’s creation does not attempt any radical maneuvers, but in its simple perfection it achieves the pinnacle of burgerdom: It makes you wonder why you would ever eat anything else. That it’s offered only during Sunday brunch makes it even more desirable. Granted, some curmudgeons might balk at eating a burger in a wine bistro on Sunday morning, but they’d be missing the very best burger in Texas. 2808 Greenville Ave., 214-828-1981. PS

No. 2
Counter Burger
$9 (Fries are included in this price.)
Counter Cafe, Austin

During any given lunch hour, more than half the customers are having burgers, despite a menu with first-rate crab cakes and fried oysters. That’s what happens when you have a monster hit. This simple, flawless burger is like an expertly composed three-minute pop song: There are no wrong notes. The hand-pressed patty is six ounces of plump and succulent Niman beef from Colorado, cooked to order. The sweetness of the bun plays treble against the meaty bass line, and the toppings all contribute excellent backup. The lettuce is Boston, the onion is Bermuda, the cheese is very good cheddar, and the tomatoes are ripe. Elegant, uncomplicated, addictive. 626 N. Lamar Blvd., 512-708-8800. PS

No. 3
Cheeseburger (with green chiles on a jalapeño-cheese bun)
$7.50
Alamo springs Café, Fredericksburg

There are burgers that go quietly and then there are those that must be wrestled to the mat with both hands and a pile of napkins. At the top of the latter category sits the green-chile cheeseburger at this little roadhouse ten miles south of Fredericksburg in the middle of beautiful nowhere. This burger is like a roller coaster: You have to hang on for dear life, and you can’t get off in the middle. Scrumptious beef juices drip from the humongous, hand-pressed patty (no two alike!) and mix with the roasted green chiles, cheese, mayo, and mustard to create a kind of divine burger roux that soaks into the cloud-soft jalapeño-cheese bun without ever making it soggy and runs down your hands (both of them) as you bury your face over and over again in this meaty marvel. 107 Alamo Rd., 830-990-8004. Closed Tue. JS

No. 4
Toro Burger
$8
Toro Burger Bar, El Paso

The moist, fresh Angus patty came just slightly burned and ragged at the edges, exactly like the ones Mom used to make. But Mom never made anything like this sesame brioche bun. Good God! Toppings include pepper jack, avocado, and a reddish chipotle-mayo blend called Toro Sauce. We like how the avocado mushes into the bun, surrounding the tender patty in a cocoon of boggy, yummy richness that the slight heat from the cheese and the sauce cut right through. This burger looks uptown but tastes homemade. How’d they do that? The bar’s dark and stylish mixture of swank and funk hints of sinful delights. Glenlivet with your burger, perhaps? 2609 N. Mesa, 915-533-4576. CL

No. 5
Texas Burger
$8.50 (Fries are included in this price.)
The Cove, San Antonio

“Chompability” is the word that came to us as we bit into the Cove’s juicy, two-inch-tall Texas Burger, a memorable variation on the classic San Antonio bean burger. Our teeth sank effortlessly through the lightly toasted buns, then encountered a texture explosion of corn chips. Creamy slices of fresh avocado melded seamlessly with the meat patty, which had a robust, grass-fed flavor. Grilled onions and a layer of tomato-and-jalapeño salsa played cameo roles. Factor in the setting—a muy funky eatery/laundromat/car wash—and the whole experience is unforgettable. 606 W. Cypress, 210-227-2683. Closed Sun. PS

No. 6
The Stodg
$14 (Fries are included in this price.)
The Porch, Dallas

Oh, you can order a fine roast beef sandwich at this upscale yet casual bistro/tavern in the bustling Knox-Henderson area, but you’d have to live with the regret of skipping the Stodg. Its beauty lies in the fact that it’s sophisticated without being exotic while still embracing the inherent messiness that makes a burger so darn wonderful. Squeezed between a foie-buttered bun (yes, you read that right) and a hefty beef patty are applewood-smoked bacon, aged cheddar, and a food-show-perfect fried egg. As one friend succinctly put it, the Stodg is like manna from heaven—only with an egg on top. 2912 N. Henderson Ave., 214-828-2916. BDS

No. 7
Hamburger Steak On A Bun
$8.95
Perini Ranch Steakhouse, Buffalo Gap

Do the words “Certified Angus beef” get your full and undivided attention? What about “USDA Choice”? Still not coming into focus? Consider “grilled over glowing mesquite coals.” Now we’ve got you. Listen, if high-quality cow meat is your thing, it simply doesn’t get any better than this. The excellence of the burger at this rustic Texas steakhouse is an eternal verity. It’s cooked a mouthwatering rosy pink on the inside and a deep mahogany on the outside and shot through with the prickly flavor of mesquite. Top the chin-dripper with your choice of cheddar, provolone, grilled mushrooms and onions, or green chiles. 3002 FM 89, 325-572-3339. Closed Mon. PS

No 8.
Bacon and Bleu Cheese Burger
$6.85
Dutch’s, Fort Worth

The nicely seasoned half pound of meat is smothered with a pile of blue cheese and a tangle of bacon. A goodly spread of chi­potle mayo bridges the flavors, and fresh toppings seal the deal. The fries are fresh-cut and sprinkled with sea salt, and that just never, ever gets old. The high-ceilinged cafe and beer bar is named after Leo “Dutch” Meyer, a TCU grad who became the most successful football coach in Horned Frog history. 3009 S. University Dr., 817-927-5522. BP

No. 9
Bacon Cheeseburger
$8.25
Beck’s Prime, Houston

The zaftig beauties you get at this Houston-area mini-chain are gorgeous. The quarter-pound patty, from chuck ground daily, is grilled over mesquite coals. The slightly sweet bun is pale yellow and lightly toasted. Each element is stacked with care. But wait! Before chowing down, you must slather on Beck’s Prime Sauce, a silky, tomatoey mayonnaise. The final bonus is that Beck’s, though comfy and informal, is no dive; you could take your grandma here. 1001 E. Memorial Loop, 713-863-8188. Ten other locations in the Houston area. PS

No. 10
Cheeseburger In Paradise
$7.99
Orlando’s Lubbock

Orlando’s is an Italian restaurant, but don’t count that against the Cheeseburger in Paradise. It might as well be a burger restaurant that happens to sell great spaghetti. Two tasty four-ounce top sirloin patties come crowned with cheese, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. The bun is a toasted Italian roll brushed with butter and mayonnaise. It’s got a crunchy exterior and a warm chewy interior. As Jimmy Buffett would say, “Well, good God Almighty, which way do I steer?” 2402 Avenue Q, 806-747-5998. TP and LW

No. 11
Buffalo Burger
$17 (Fries are included in this price.)
White Buffalo Bar, Gage Hotel Marathon

Ample, rich, and downright carnal, this burger is not so much a meal as a gastronomic challenge to the entire modern cattle industry. About two bites into it we started to question the wisdom of exterminating the native herds of American Bison and repopulating the plains with cows. The tender, less fatty buffalo seemed sweeter than beef, and the taste (order it medium-rare) melded perfectly with melted Gruyère, sautéed mushrooms, and a superbly yeasty bun. It arrives at your table looking a tad overstyled, but the first brawny bite will excuse its citified appearance. 101 U.S. 90 W, 432-386-4205. FM

No. 12
Chop-House Burger (with cheese and bacon)
$10.25 (Fries are included in this price.)
Cover 3, Austin

Can this really be a sports bar? The joint’s too classy, and so’s the burger. Half a pound of freshly ground beef cooked to rosy perfection rests regally on a square ciabatta bun. The bread is toasted, and if you lean in close, you can sniff the buttery aroma. The cheese is good Longhorn cheddar, and the bacon is just about as supreme a sliver of pig as we’ve ever encountered. Shredded lettuce and slices of ripe red tomato and purple Bermuda onion round out the plate. The fries—delicate potato shoestrings dusted with Parmesan and chives—underscore the better-than-it-has-to-be philosophy here. 2700 Anderson Ln., 512-374-1121. PS

No. 13
1/2 Pound Hamburger
$5.79
Burger Fresh, Conroe

We feared a place called Burger Fresh would be the work of health nuts, the kind of folk who perish if alfalfa sprouts are not made available. Instead we found a classically good Angus burger: hand-formed; kissed by a hot griddle; oozing plenty of artery-clogging juices; carefully but not pretentiously dressed with mustard and a ripe tomato slice above and mayo, lettuce, and slices of white onion below; and resting on one kick-ass sourdough bun flecked with bits of jalapeño and cheese. 804 Gladstell Rd., 936-756-4414. SH

No. 14.
Bulgogi Burger
$4.99
Burger Tex II, Austin

Sometimes you want a burger that’s just a little bit different, and the Korean owners of this humble restaurant cook up a delicious twist. The tender beef has been audaciously marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil, but what really makes it unique is that it’s thinly sliced rather than ground. Sure, there might be some grumpy purists out there who insist that ground meat is a constitutive part of hamburgers. To these scrooges we say, your loss is our (weight) gain. The bulgogi sauce is a hot, coral-colored blend featuring roasted garlic and onions. At the fixin’s bar, you dress the shaved meat yourself with fresh tomatoes, crisp lettuce, and homemade condiments. 2912 Guadalupe, 512-477-8433. Closed Sun. PC

No. 15
Hamburger
$4.99 (Fries are included in this price.)
Twisted Root Burger Co., Dallas

Don’t worry if your first visit to this spot on the edge of Deep Ellum ends in despair. The line often spills out the door, so you might consider returning at an off time (e.g., the instant the restaurant opens). Yet crowds confirm quality. The beef patties—or buffalo, elk, and other game in season—are thick, the sweet-potato chips are fresh, and the spicy pickles are homemade, along with the root beer, ice cream, and chi­potle ketchup. Lots of burger shops are filled with signs and stickers, but here one certainly stands out: “Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.” 2615 Commerce, 214-741-7668. Two other locations in the Dallas area. BDS

No. 16
Kobe Beef Burger
$18 (Fries are included in this price.)
Max’s Wine Dive, Austin, Houston

It arrives at your table on a brioche bun with Belletoile triple-cream brie melting by the second. The ensuing food orgy will be something you remember for the rest of your life. On your deathbed (to which, unfortunately, you will be hastened by this burger), you will find yourself recalling the meat juices that oozed From the patty, through the cheese, and soaked drop by drop into the fluffy, sweet bread. If your doctor has a fit, tell him that Kobe beef is supposed to actually be good for your heart. Triple-cream brie, however . . . 207 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, 512-904-0111; 4720 Washington Ave., Houston, 713-880-8737. PS

No. 17
Dirty Love Burger
$5.77
Love Shack, Fort Worth

Lest you forget that a burger is above all a beef product, there’s the Dirty Love Burger at the Love Shack, a weathered open-air music and people-watching venue located in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Only in Texas would anyone grind together tenderloin and brisket, but the blend yields such an excellent ratio of fat to lean that it will gladden your taste buds. The whole barnyard participates in this mouth-pleaser: It not only comes with crispy applewood-smoked bacon but also a fried quail egg clinging to the patty. The tangy, house-made Love Sauce fuses the whole thing into a glorious mess you won’t soon forget. 110 E. Exchange Ave., 817-740-8812. BP

No. 18
Ref Burger
$5.99
Fatty’s Burgers & More, San Antonio

They rush it to your table with the meat still sizzling. Old-school to the max, this burger is the perfect construction of sweet, toasted homemade bun and hand-pressed ground beef patty that’s just greasy and juicy enough to disintegrate in your mouth. Driving south of downtown, watch for the yellow, two-story cinder-block building with “Fatty’s” in black letters. 1624 E. Commerce, San Antonio, 210-299-8110. Closed Sun. Two other locations in the San Antonio area. WM

No. 19
Momak Classic Burger
$4.99
Momak’s Backyard Malts & Burgers, San Antonio

Shirtfront alert: We saw more than one patron with burger juices dripping down his chin (and, it should be noted, a smile on his face). The patty is thick and comes sandwiched between two toasty, buttered sesame-seed buns accompanied by the usual fresh veggies. Plus, the backyard tree house and turfed play area make MoMak’s an ideal stop for Mom and Dad Burgerlover. 13838 Jones Maltsberger Rd., 210-481-3600. KNP

No. 20
Southwestern Burger
$8.99 (Fries are included in this price.)
Kelly’s Eastside, Plano

Strap on your crampons and head for this Everest of excess. The mountainous open-faced burger is anchored by eight ounces of hand-pressed, flame-grilled meat capped with melted pepper jack cheese. Perched above the cheese are steaming layers of roasted poblanos and grilled red onions, plus creamy guacamole and pico de gallo. Take a deep breath as you spread the toasted top bun with sour cream (insider tip: salting it makes a big difference) and press it into place. When you come to, you may need a Sherpa to help you find your car. 1422 Avenue K, 972-424-9200. BDS

No. 21
Big’z Famous No. 1
$4.50
Big’z Burger Joint, San Antonio

Customizing your burger is the shtick at Big’z, so go ahead and pay a buck to “make it dirty” with a fried egg on top—the warm, golden yolk trickles into the crevices of the steaming Certified Angus beef patty. Other extras—fresh avocado or a sweet jalapeño-cheddar bun—are worth the modest tariff too. Even if you didn’t know that this barny place is owned by Andrew “Le Rêve” Weissman, you could guess by looking at the squeeze bottles of fancy-schmancy sauces and ketchups. 2303 N. Loop 1604 W, 210-408-2029. Closed Mon. PS

No. 22
Snuffy Burger
$5.49
Chicken Oil Co., Bryan

Admittedly our expectations were not high for a burger that achieved fame by filling bottomless student bellies, but after one bite of the Snuffy Burger we almost let out a fightin’ farmer whoop! The Snuffy is complemented by a soft and toasty bun, crisp iceberg, fresh chopped onion, sliced tomato, and pickle. Considering the high quality of this burger, the fact that the plentiful mayo and mustard were combined on the bottom bun—a no-no in some books—was forgiven. 3600 S. College Ave., 979-846-3306. DC

No. 23
Tiki Burger
$6.49
Café Michael Burger, Galveston

Our Tiki Burger arrived under a layer of Swiss cheese, loaded with mushrooms and onions. The sturdy wheat bun barely contained a blissful aroma that whispered of beach cookouts following long days of surf and sun, but the mingling of complex flavors was beyond anything we’d experienced alfresco. Beach balls and multicolored floats overflow a hammock suspended from the ceiling and elbow for decor dominance with street signs in the proprietor’s native German. 11150 FM 3005 (San Luis Pass Rd.), 409-740-3639. Closed Mon & Tue. SS

No. 24
The French Connection Burger
$6.15
Burgers, Fries And Cherry Pies, Midland

If béarnaise sauce is great on a steak, might it not also elevate a hamburger? The answer—a resounding oui—has led to one of West Texas’s most unusual culinary inventions, the singular French Connection. Swathed lightly in a tart, thin homemade béarnaise, the eight ounces of cooked-to-order meat demands a careful choice among three house buns: white, wheat, or jalapeño-cheddar. Wisely, management recommends omitting mustard, ketchup, and pickles. If only the bright but boxy building looked a little less commercial. 5210 W. Wadley, 432-617-2327. LJG and RR

No. 25
American Kobe Beef Burger
$29 (Fries are included in this price.)
Mockingbird Bistro, Houston

Lovingly patted from eight ounces of American Kobe beef and crowned with an indulgent slab of seared foie gras, this pampered prince of burgers is fantastically juicy, ridiculously expensive, and just plain outrageous. Not only will you discover that goose liver makes everything better, you will have cocktail-party chatter for years. Now, for you pikers, here’s a secret: You can get a fab burger on the bar menu (with Stilton in place of foie), fries included, for a mere $9. 1985 Welch, 713-533-0200. PS

No. 26
Cheeseburger
$9.50 (Fries are included in this price.)
Parkside, Austin

Undoubtedly some people will resist ordering a boring burger from a menu that boasts twelve kinds of oysters flown in daily from all over creation, but, well, those people are fools. This extra-juicy patty comes covered with white cheddar and perched on a toasted, house-made bun. The meat is so well seasoned you’ll scavenge the little beef nubbins that fall on your plate. If there’s a drawback to this burger, it is that it’s petite (6.5 ounces), which seems downright cruel when you’re licking the plate. Crispy potato slivers powdered in chopped garlic, shallot, parsley, sea salt, and black pepper will ruin you for all other fries. 301 E. 6th, 512-474-9898. RB

No. 27
Black Buffalo Burger
$6.99 (Fries are included in this price.)
Black Sheep Lodge, Austin

If, like us, you have a deep and abiding love of both buffalo wings and hamburgers and have often wondered if together they would not produce something greater than the sum of their parts, this is the burger for you. The tangy vinegar-and-Tabasco sauce is hot but not overpowering, and the richness of the blue cheese is complemented by the thick tomato slices and a delicate spring mix of arugula and spinach. We know that sounds a little sissified, but balance is provided by the sports bar’s pool table, dart boards, waitresses in short shorts, and abundant flat-screen TVs tuned to ESPN. 2108 S. Lamar Blvd., 512-707-2744. KNP

No. 28
Miss Hattie Burger
$8.95 (Fries are included in this price.)
Miss Hattie’s Café And Saloon, San Angelo

When a restaurant’s theme pays tribute to a historic local brothel, it doubtless wants its customers to leave satisfied. And they do: No one has ever ordered the Miss Hattie—a brazen, open-faced number consisting of a plump, Worcestershire-spiked, char-grilled meat patty and a surfeit of garnishes, including pepper jack cheese and crisp bacon, plus jalapeños, roasted red peppers, and chipotle aioli—and been less than sated. Enjoy the Gay Nineties atmosphere as you await the inevitable question, “Daddy, what’s a bordello?” 26 E. Concho Ave., 325-653-0570. Closed Sun. LJG and RR

No. 29
Double Hamburger
$4.20
Mel’s Country Café, Tomball

Mel’s is not on or even all that near what could be considered the beaten path, but a burger experience well worth your trouble awaits. The handmade patties are so juicy and flavorful it’s as if they were treated to some sort of gravy bath. They come medium-well on a toasted bun, accompanied by the de rigueur shredded lettuce, tomato, pickle, bulky chopped onion, mustard, and mayo. What are you waiting for? 24814 Stanolind Rd., 281-255-6357. Closed Mon. DC

No. 30
Half Ass Burger
$10 (Fries are included in this price.)
Roaring Fork, Austin

A highly personal question must be asked before you order: Are you a Big Ass or a Half Ass? It’s cool if you’re a Big Ass, but happily, even the eight-ounce Half Ass is plenty. The hand-formed patty of 100 percent ground chuck is accessorized with aged cheddar and three crunchy strips of excellent lean bacon. Chipotle mayo (infinitely superior to plain mayo, IOHO) comes on the side. The one drawback is that the inevitable gusher of meat juices soaks the bottom bun, causing the sandwich to begin falling apart about halfway through the meal. Frankly, the Half Ass doesn’t eat all that well, but, as Mom used to say, everything gets mixed up in your stomach anyway, and would that all catastrophes tasted so fine. (Plus, the dainty eater could always—gasp!—use a fork.) 701 Congress Ave., 512-583-0000. Two other locations, one in Austin and one in San Antonio. PS

No. 31
Frisco Burger
$3.99
Gene’s Tasty Burger, Wichita Falls

The pure outrageousness of a classic chili cheeseburger is epitomized by Gene’s legendary Frisco Burger. The chili spills lavalike onto the plate; the cheese caps it in gold. You’ll want to hose down afterward, but it’s worth it. Celebrating its fiftieth year of flipping burgers and serving shakes, this loud, popular joint is a household name in North Texas, and the number of tourists who have snapped pictures in front of its neon sign, in the shape of an ice cream cone, must now number in the millions. 2310 Holliday, 940-767-1921. Closed Sun. KC

No. 32
Brie And Granny Smith Burger
$10 (Fries are included in this price.)
Cliff Cafe, Dallas

Putting fruit on a burger? Why, that’s like putting Willie Nelson on a reggae record! Oh wait, that happened. And it kind of made sense, didn’t it? Well, the Brie and Granny Smith Burger at this joint next to the Belmont Hotel is no different. The apple is tart, offsetting the savory cheese with an air-clearing crispness and providing a stage on which the plump beef patty can perform. If you like your burger swanky, you won’t be disappointed. (The restaurant will be closed for renovations until September, but the burger will still be served at the hotel bar.) 901 Fort Worth Ave., 214-393-2300. BP

No. 33
Bean and Frito Burger
$4.95
Bracken Store Café, San Antonio

A Tex-Mex combo plate on a bun—that’s the way to think of this iteration of a San Antonio bean burger. Slathered with refried beans and stuffed with crisp, salty corn chips, the behemoth is further dolled up with an american-cheddar blend, chopped onions, and sliced pickled jalapeños. Crazy as it sounds, everything coalesces into one glorious, chin-wiping, shirt-splotching meal. Between bites, stare at the array of vintage knickknacks and old license plates adorning every surface of the off-road country cottage’s rock walls. 18415 Bracken Dr., 210-651-6515. Closed Sun. WM

No. 34
Hamburger
$3.10
Sam’s Deli Diner, Houston

Watch out. If you’re not careful, you could get your photo on the wall and a nickname like the “two-a-day kid.” But who could blame you? The burgers are delicious and cheap (our whole meal cost less than $10). Nestled between a toasty buttered bun and camouflaged by crisp chopped lettuce and glowing red tomatoes is the prize: a thick, juicy patty with just enough grease to make you do the hand jive. Combine it with a Byron Freeze (blended vanilla ice cream and root beer) and you’ll be dancing all the way home. 11637 I-10 (Katy Fwy.), 281-497-8088. Closed last Sunday of the month. MG

No. 35
The Regular (With Asadero Cheese)
$9 (Fries are included in this price.)
Dry Creek Café, Houston

There are voluptuous-burger people and slim-burger people. If your taste in burgers runs more to Scarlett Johansson than, say, Audrey Hepburn, go eat this sandwich now: the half-pound patty of freshly ground Black Angus beef arrives all shimmering and juicy on a toasted whole-wheat bun. The lettuce is crisp, the thin-sliced pickles are tart, and the tomato is a ripe red instead of a pale green. For a small fee, you may have your choice of one of six cheeses—adding the rich, creamy asadero results in custom-made gloppiness where every flavor still stands on its own: perfection on a bun. 544 Yale, 713-426-2313. MS

No. 36
Build-Your-Own Burger
$3.99
Hamburger Store, Jefferson

The walls of this humble eatery on the edge of Jefferson’s historic downtown are papered with dollar bills left by previous patrons. such Gimmicks are commonly used to deflect attention from so-so food. But this beauty of a burger has all the right stuff: a pillow-soft bun toasted on the inside, a tomato slice that nearly rivals the bread in diameter, four pickles placed just so, a judicious separation of mayo and mustard, and an asymmetric patty bearing the savory splotches of a greasy, flavor-enhancing griddle. Turns out there’s an endearing story behind that expensive wallpaper: In 2005, after the owners served up more than two thousand free meals to Katrina evacuees, grateful visitors started leaving the bills as a love offering. 101 S. Market, 903-665-3251. JB

No. 37
Hamburger
$4.95
Mighty Fine, Austin

This sleek new fast-food franchise—which boasts sanitizing “hand Jacuzzis” in the dining area—looks too squeaky-clean and corporate to produce a good burger. Luckily, it serves up chow that has the heart and soul of a greasy spoon. The mouthwatering made-to-order half-pounder is hand-formed from all-natural beef that’s ground in-house daily. The hand-squeezed lemonade has just the right balance of sweet and sour, and the crinkle-cut fries, which are dusted with sea salt, are homemade. 5601 Brodie Ln., Ste. 1300; 512-735-2800. Two other locations in the Austin area. PC

No. 38
Jalapeño Cream Cheese Burger
$8.95 (Fries are included in this price.)
Roadhouse, Bastrop

In Texas, many people rightly contend that any dish can be improved upon by adding jalapeños. Elsewhere, others hold similar beliefs concerning cream cheese. This masterful sandwich brings these two camps together with spectacular results. The peppers lend fire while the big slices of cheese melt soothingly over a juicy beef patty on a sourdough bun. Somehow the spiky heat and the creamy richness bracket the beef to create a taste bomb that will knock you out of your chair, or at least leave you slumped half-conscious over the table in some gastronomical delirium. 2804 Texas Hwy. 21 E (across from Bastrop State Park), 512-321-1803. BP

No. 39
Old-Fashioned HamBurger
$4
Lankford Grocery and Market, Houston

Here’s a burger you could take to a Fourth of July picnic: hand-patted, half-inch-thick meat patty; sesame-seed bun lightly toasted; tomato sliced thick; iceberg lettuce shredded for that essential bit of texture that keeps everything from going mushy. Nothing fancy about this hamburger, and that’s why we like it. It is what it is, and so’s the comfy, rumpled, Mayberry-esque cafe itself. One friend’s observation says it all: “Anybody who doesn’t like the Lankford Grocery—there’s something wrong with them.” 88 Dennis, 713-522-9555. Closed Sun. PS

No. 40
Cheeseburger
$6.89 (Fries are included in this price.)
Classics Burgers and “Moore”, Kerrville

While not huge, Classics’ cheeseburger requires a two-handed grip to be properly managed. Its patty is handmade from beef freshly ground that day and nestled under crisp condiments on a butter-toasted bun. They’ll respectfully cook it to your specs (a rarity in smaller-town burger joints, we’re sorry to report), and even the “medium” stayed nice and tender till the last bite. The lightly battered fries crowding the plate define “addictive.” 448 Sidney Baker South, 830-257-8866. Closed Sun. ER

No. 41
Jalapeño Cream Cheese Burger
$9.59 (Fries are included in this price.)
Koffee Kup Family Restaurant, Hico

We gave the Koffee Kup a nod in our best small-town cafes roundup last December, and if you want to know the truth of it, this entire best burger story came about because we couldn’t stop thinking (or yammering on and on) about this incredible burger and needed an excuse to return to Hico and eat another one. Seriously. It’s that good. Texas Hwy. 6 & U.S. 281, 254-796-4839. PS

No. 42
Cheeseburger
$3.75
Hruska’s Store and Bakery, Ellinger

Midway between Austin and Houston on Texas Highway 71 lies the tiny hamlet of Ellinger. It is here, at a gas station with a funny name, a top-rate Czech bakery, and an out-of-this-world grill, that a burger without flaw resides. The patty is flavorful, juicy, and plentiful, the bun is toasted to perfection, the tomatoes are ripe, the rings of fresh-sliced onion and pickle are all they should be, and the iceberg snaps. With Platonic dimensions, it’s all bound together with Miracle Whip on top, tangy yellow mustard on the bottom, and silky cheese between. 109 Texas Hwy. 71 W, 979-378-2333. DC

No. 43
Rosco Burger
$6.05 (Fries are included in this price.)
Rosco’s Burger Inn, El Paso

The double-cheese, double-meat Rosco burger is a sock-it-to-me assembly of smoky beef patties that are seared on the outside yet juicy in the middle; slabs of melted good ol’ American cheese; and a warm bun that tastes as if it were made fresh that very morning. All of this is framed with crisp lettuce and nice ripe tomatoes. Plus, the constantly sizzling grill gives this old-timey burger joint a lovely, come-hither cheeseburger scent. Rogelio Carrasco first opened the place in 1955 in a converted house; three generations later, it’s chugging right along. 3829 Tompkins Rd., 915-564-9028. Closed Sun & Mon. LBH

No. 44
Stopher Burger
$7.75 (Fries are included in this price.)
Port Aransas Brewing Company, Port Aransas

O frabjous day! A beachy brewpub that sells great burgers! Our ice-cold mug went beautifully with the Stopher—a handmade peppery patty on a slightly sweet homemade bun that was toasty-buttery-crunchy on the outside and just-right chewy on the inside. The classic condiments were fresh, and the sweet-potato fries were crispily delicious. Unwind while you listen to the seagulls and nurse another beer under a shady umbrella on the deck. 429 N. Alister, 361-749-2739. PBM

No. 45
Mesquite Burger
$5.50
Goode Company Hamburgers and Taqueria, Houston

Don’t forget the fries. At Goode Company they’re hand-cut and as appealing in their salty-peppery goodness as the sunny vibe in this neighborhood restaurant. The burger comes on a sesame-studded buttery bun with sprightly iceberg leaves, generous slices of onion, and juicy red tomatoes. You add jazzy fixin’s like salsa and guacamole from the condiments bar. The slightly fatty charbroiled beef patty recalls family backyard cookouts of yore. Luckily, Dad wasn’t around this time to make us share. 4902 Kirby Dr., 713-520-9153. MG

No. 46
Green Chile Swissburger
$6.99
Snuffer’s Restaurant and Bar, Dallas

This is a classic Dallas place to grab a burger after work, watch the game, and drink a beer, and it’s also great for families. The laid-back Greenville Avenue original opened in 1978; since then more locations have sprouted around Dallas. But what remains the same is the quality of that big, mouthwatering burger, particularly the cheesy-tangy Green Chile Swissburger piled high with crisp shredded lettuce and fat tomato slices. And while it’s tough to beat the great fries, you’d be crazy not to order the cheddar fries at a place that’s bold enough to claim it invented them. 3526 Greenville Ave., 214-826-6850. Seven other locations in Dallas. BDS

No. 47
Diablo Burger
$10.95 (Fries are included in this price.)
Fred’s Texas Café, Fort Worth

Half a pound of ground beef is grilled and topped with taste bud–searing chipotles, heaped with Swiss cheese, and crowned with onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce, and mustard. The spicy elements play off perfectly against the cool and leafy ones; melted cheese provides the glue that holds it all together. Note: Don’t even think about wedging yourself into this popular, boisterous cafe and bar at rush hour. 915 Currie, 817-332-0083. Closed Mon. ER

No. 48
Hamburguesa Mexicana
$4.39 (Fries are included in this price.)
Speedy’s Burger, Houston

This sandwich is a brilliant example of Tex-Mex fusion: Take a patty and bun, blanket the meat in queso blanco, add a glossy slice of salty ham and a scattering of sliced jalapeños, and keep piling on with slivers of ripe avocado along with—wait, let’s do this in Spanish because it sounds so much better— tomate fresco, mayonesa, mostaza, lechuga, y cebolla. The result is a spicy, border-crossing delight that completely befits this homey pink-walled spot on Houston’s north side. 6303 Irvington Blvd., 713-692-4435. MS

No. 49
Hamburger
$6.95
Gourmet Burger Grill, San Antonio

You bite gently, and the patty’s grill-striped exterior yields to a moist, medium-rare center. Fashioned from eight ounces of Certified Angus, the meat is seasoned both inside and out and served on a toasted, fresh-baked sourdough roll. Customize it with weird and wonderful toppings (grilled pineapple or roasted red pepper, anyone?) and cheeses (American for old-schoolers, Camembert for Francophiles). The setting is more strip center than venerable burger joint, but close your eyes and the burger will convince you otherwise. 18414 U.S. 281 N, Ste. 116; 210-545-3800. KNP

No. 50
#1 Jakes Special
$5.49
Jakes, Dallas

Noticing the billboards for Jakes scattered across the Metroplex, you might be tempted to give the place a try. Good decision. The #1 Jakes Special is big—two thin but juicy and well-seasoned patties topped with American cheese and Thousand Island dressing (you’ll be shocked at how well the sweet tomatoey flavor complements the meat). Also unique to Jakes: buttery toasted poppy seed buns from a local bakery. 6606 Skillman Rd., 214-349-1422. BP

Read these additional stories from The 50 Greatest Hamburgers in Texas:

Famous Texans on Their Favorite Burgers
Rebecca Robinson, Joaquin Jackson, Little Joe Hernandez, Michael Williams, Betty Buckley, and Bum Phillips dish.

Whatastory
How a modest Corpus Christi burger stand became a Texas icon.

The World’s First Hamburger
It was served in Athens, Texas, no matter what Mr. Cutlets says.

How We Did It
Our 31 researchers were given rigorous training and dispatched to the field.

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