To his wife, children, and friends, Noel Kersh is a mild-mannered computer forensics investigator who constantly slips out of the house on “burger runs,” camera in tow, and spends a lot of time blogging afterward. But to foodies across the state, the 34-year-old Sherman native is the leading authority on mom-and-pop hamburger joints: As the Texas Burger Guy, a self-styled food critic who maintains a Web site devoted to the greasy delicacy, he regularly scouts old-timey digs—and all manner of beef patties—anywhere from Abilene to San Antonio. In the five years since he began his quest, TBG (as he calls himself for short) has visited sixty-plus restaurants, received over five hundred review requests, traveled more than 8,096 miles, and even appeared on the Food Network. His Web site, TexasBurgerGuy.com, where his posts spark lively exchanges among fellow devotees, has now scored upward of 800,000 hits.
Though he claims he’s “just a guy who likes to eat and write about it,” TBG documents his findings with scientific zeal, even going so far as to create his own burger scoring system (categories include “Oooze Factor,” for greasiness; “Herd Killer,” for thickness; and “Handling,” for size). Restaurants he reviews must be no-frills—the more hole-in-the-wall-ish the better—and serve up his standard order: a half-pound cheeseburger cooked medium with mustard, no onions, and no pickles (“pickles should be outlawed,” he says). So which burger does this connoisseur believe to be the absolute best? “The Boonie Burger, at Boondocks Bar and Grill, in Amarillo,” he says. “It is a double-meat burger with huge patties—juicy, greasy, and big. It inspired me to create a new review category, ‘Gravedigger,’ because I actually feared I had shortened my life after eating it. That’s special.”