I’ve been covering Texas-raised Wagyu beef over the last year, and one question I’ve heard from readers is: What makes Wagyu beef any different than, say, prime-grade Angus beef? It’s about the marbling, sure, but it’s also about the quality of the fat, the ease with which it melts, and the buttery flavor it provides. In burgers, which are generally at least 20 percent fat, Wagyu really shines.
Ground beef is the profit center of any cattle operation, but for Wagyu, it’s even more important. It’s easy to fetch high prices for steaks and roasts, but if producers can’t find customers willing to pay a premium for ground beef (which ends up being about a third of the animal), it’s hard to make the numbers work. I’ve highlighted some of the best burgers in the state made from Texas-raised Wagyu cattle that highlight the beef and show why it’s worth the price.
Son of a Butcher, Dallas
Wagyu X Sliders: $8.75 for two
A restaurant built on sliders might sound like an excuse to hide some cheap ground beef in squishy buns, but Son of a Butcher (three locations in the DFW area) has used Texas-raised Wagyu since it opened in late 2020. Its previous supplier, A Bar N Ranch, was sold in July, so SOB recently switched to using Wagyu X. The Classic slider, with cheese, comeback sauce, and pickles, really shows off the beef’s quality, but you can have some fun with options like the PB&J (American cheese, bacon, crunchy peanut butter, and blackberry jam) or the Burnt Ends (chunks of smoked brisket and barbecue sauce).
Luck’s Wagyu Burger Shoppe, Austin
Peeler Farms Wagyu Katsu Burger: $9.95
This burger shop is located within Zen Japanese Food Fast in North Austin, and its menu is mounted right next to the regular menu. As the name suggests, it only serves Wagyu burgers, and has several options for traditional grilled burgers. I was more intrigued by the katsu burger, in which the patty is panko-crusted and deep-fried. The Peeler Farms beef stays incredibly juicy inside the crisp coating, and the richness is cut a bit by the crunchy slaw on top. It’s a thoroughly unique burger experience.
Tris, The Woodlands
Legacy Custom Meats Gyulais double cheeseburger: $10 (with fries) during happy hour only, Tue–Sat, 4–6:30 p.m.
The steakhouse’s dinner menu is unsurprisingly beefy, but you won’t see this burger there. It’s only available during happy hour, and is priced well, especially considering the quality of the beef. Chef Austin Simmons is a partner in Legacy Custom Meat, which specializes in a Wagyu/Charolais cross dubbed Gyulais. All the trimmings from the steaks are turned into ground beef patties for this double cheeseburger served with iceberg lettuce and bacon jam on an English muffin.
Sour Duck Market, Austin
Peeler Farms double cheeseburger: $12.99 or $6 for a single cheeseburger during happy hour, Wed–Sun 3–6 p.m.
With a surface as smooth as glass, the smash-burger patty is something Sour Duck Market gets right. The patties are also quite thin, so the restaurant doubles them up and adds a slice of American cheese, creamy secret sauce, zingy pickle chips, and pimento cheese. A lighter version of the burger with just one patty is available during happy hour, but both come on a golden, soft, house-baked challah bun.
Homegrown Market, Ennis
Rosewood Ranches Wagyu Burger: $15 (with fries)
Kenneth Braddock is the ranch manager at Rosewood Ranches, just outside Ennis. In the downtown area, his daughter Lucy Braddock is the chef of Homegrown Market, a butcher shop and restaurant. Take home a Rosewood ribeye from the case, or get Lucy to put a hard sear on a thick patty of ground Wagyu for one of several burger options. A classic cheeseburger is dressed with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and three slices of Cheddar, or opt for house-made pimento cheese. The crisp, fresh-cut fries are a welcome bonus.
Crush Wine Bar, Amarillo
4B Meats Double smash-burger: $16 (with fries)
Talk about locally raised beef: the burger patties at Crush Wine Bar come from cattle that’s raised and fed at Morris Stock Farm, about an hour outside of town in Gruver. The well-marbled 4B strip steak ($60) shares the dinner menu with the burger, which is a whole lot of beef for the price. Two patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, Dijonnaise, and bacon come together on a brioche bun. Use two hands for this one.
Not a Damn Chance Burger, Austin
Iron Table Wagyu 1/3-pound cheeseburger: $16
Tucked in the back of Idle Hands bar on Rainey Street is a small window for NADC, where you can order an exemplary cheeseburger. The scant toppings of burger sauce, thin-sliced raw onions, and dill pickle chips allow the beef to shine. Melted American cheese oozes over and between the two well-seared Iron Table Wagyu patties, and the warm bun is buttered and squishy. Peeling off the paper wrapper exposes a burger meant to be devoured.
Cullum’s Attaboy, San Antonio
Peeler Farms Attaboy Burger: $16 (with fries)
The perfectly crafted omelettes are hard to forgo at this San Antonio gem, but one bite of the beautifully seared, well-seasoned burger will test your allegiances. The patty rests directly on the bottom bun, allowing it to soak up the meat juices. Try it during brunch ($23), when it comes with shatteringly crisp bacon and a fried egg, or order it simply dressed with a slice of Cheddar and a thick layer of aioli. Pair with the French fries or the crispy, cubed breakfast potatoes—you can’t go wrong with either.
Mercat Bistro, Dallas
hwd premium beef mercat Burger: $18 (with frites)
Harwood Hospitality (HH) operates sixteen restaurants and markets in the Harwood District, next to Uptown Dallas. Much of the beef for those restaurants comes from its own herd of Akaushi crossbred cattle. Dubbed HWD Premium Beef, it’s only available in HH restaurants, and several use its ground beef in burgers. I tried three, and the thicker eight-ounce patty at French-influenced Mercat Bistro was the winner (despite the severely over-salted frites). Caramelized onions, Gruyère, Bibb lettuce, and aioli joined the juicy beef in a nicely grilled brioche bun.
CM Smokehouse, Austin
Iron Table Wagyu Burger: $22 (includes one side)
There are plenty of burgers on CM Smokehouse‘s printed menu, but you won’t find this particular one unless you order online. Scroll all the way down until you find the Iron Table burger. Even though it has just one patty, it might be the juiciest burger on the list. The combination of caramelized onions and still-crunchy pickled onions bring sweetness and tang, respectively, to the pleasantly salty patty. It comes with a side of your choice, but I’d go with the underrated pinto beans.
R-C Ranch Dry-Aged Burger: $23
R-C Ranch has a retail store in Houston where you can see the shoulder clods in the dry-aging room alongside the usual strip loins and rib sections. After aging, the clods are sent to Bludorn, where they’re ground for what might be the best white-tablecloth burger in the state. A slice of Cheddar, mayo, and Dijon mustard are all it needs to sing, so ask the waiter to hold the unnecessary lettuce.
Rosewood Ranches X-Tudo Burger: $24 (with yucca fries)
Meridian is the flagship restaurant at the Village development in Dallas, which was overhauled in 2021. Reservations are recommended, and the burger matches the quality of the menu that brought a James Beard Award nomination to chef Junior Borges earlier this year. The juicy patty sits atop shallot marmalade and mushroom aioli. Gruyère cheese brings a nuttiness, and the pickles get some spice from malagueta peppers. The yucca fries on the side are a nod to the Brazilian-inspired fare, and are a nice change of pace from French fries.
Rosewood Ranches double smash-burger: $25 (with fries). The single smash-burger during happy hour (Mon–Sat 4–6 p.m.) is $10 (without fries).
During lunch at Douglas, you can order a single-patty smash-burger for $10 less, but I recommend doing the double to properly fill the griddled Martin’s potato roll. The patties are incredibly juicy, and get a couple slices of American cheese, slightly spicy pickles, and shredded lettuce. The barbecue-seasoned skinny fries are no afterthought, either.
Bonus Burger: Hopdoddy, Statewide
R-C Ranch and Dean & Peeler beef Primetime Burger: $15.95
Normally I don’t like a ton of stuff on my burger if it’s made with good beef. But—with two bold cheeses (Emmental Swiss and Gruyère), caramelized onions, arugula, steak sauce, and truffle mayo—the Primetime at Hopdoddy is the exception. The patty is thick and well seasoned with a great sear, and the fresh-baked buns are excellent. The chain has recently changed its beef supplier, and now uses a fifty-fifty blend of Angus from Dean & Peeler and Wagyu from R-C Ranch, and the Primetime has never been better.
Note: I loved the Peeler Farms Wagyu double cheeseburger at Dai Due in Austin. It was an obvious choice for this list until the restaurant recently changed to a 75/25 blend of ground nilgai and ground Wagyu beef, which I haven’t yet tried.