Just days before the opening of Trill Burgers in June, rapper and newly minted restaurateur Bun B was double-checking the soft drinks. With the deftness of a sommelier, he insisted I enjoy my burger with one of his favorites, Hawaiian Punch Lemonade.

“We focus on every part of the experience,” he told me. While the brick-and-mortar—located in a bird-yellow former James Coney Island near Upper Kirby in Houston—is the first for the restaurant, it has been gaining steam since 2021. First as an occasional pop-up, and then as a kiosk in NRG Stadium. The hype increased once Trill Burgers won the title of Ultimate Burger Spot, according to Good Morning America, last summer. That led to guests often standing in line for five-plus hours wherever the truck appeared next, including Coachella, where rapper Tyler, the Creator gleefully expressed his adoration for the burger on TikTok.

Lest you think Trill Burgers—co-owned with restaurateur Andy Nguyen, chefs Mike Pham and Fernando Valladares, and publicist Nick Scurfield—is a vanity project engineered to rake in more cash for the former member of rap group UGK, you should know Bun really cares about these burgers.

“This was a calculated effort to create a dining experience,” Bun said. “There is so much that was put into this burger, in terms of how long do we smash it? What is the right sauce mixture? How many slices of pickles? Should the onions be thin-sliced? The thick-sliced, caramelized ones are wrong. All of these different things went into creating this burger, from the texture of the patty being crispy to the softness of the bun.”

But it shouldn’t surprise those paying attention that Bun B is one of the minds behind “the best burger in America.” This magazine once called him the “unofficial mayor of Houston,” and he is a true Renaissance man. In addition to releasing eleven studio albums, he taught at Rice University, collaborated on a coloring book, and ran a food blog.

If his dedication to this venture is still in doubt, just look to its name. “Trill” is a major theme in Bun’s work—it’s in the title of every solo album he’s put out. A colloquialism in hip-hop and Southern culture for over thirty years, “trill” is a word that signifies ultimate respect, and, according to Bun, is the essence of what it means to be a Houstonian.

“I literally put my name on this company, my reputation on this,” he said. “I put blood, sweat, tears, and equity in this company. And it’s paying off.”

Above all, Bun is a craftsman who walks the line between storyteller and entertainer. When he’s spotted at the restaurant, he’s accessible. He takes pictures with fans, chats up self-proclaimed foodies, and reminisces about the glory days of Houston rap with peers (Drake and Ludacris have recently made appearances at the restaurant). Bun has managed to curate respect as both a culinary and musical vanguard.

Fans don’t mind waiting in the block-wrapping line, which Bun ascribes to how good the burger is as opposed to his frequent presence. Bun says the team focuses on flavoring the patty (the exact flavoring agents are protected with cloak-and-dagger safeguards), which is then smashed to ideal crispness and placed between a cloud-like potato roll.

“I think that part of what catches people off guard is, when people try a burger, they’re expecting something that should be very similar to something they’ve had,” Bun says. “And [the Trill burger] couldn’t be further from that.”

Aside from that, it’s a fun, jubilant place to eat, where you don’t know which celebrity will pop up next. Drake’s visit is just the most recent example, but he follows a bevy of hip-hop and entertainment royalty. Former Houston Texans player Andre Johnson praised the burger during a recent visit; singer Kam Franklin of the Suffers made sure to pop by opening day; and Slim Thug, another legendary Houston rapper, is a regular.

The scene is evocative of Fatburger, the Los Angeles burger joint where the city’s hip-hop artists communed over burgers, fries, and milkshakes. For Bun, owning a contemporary community hub for the entertainment world is not a second act but a chance to pursue something new on his terms.

“It’s a point of inspiration because I’m getting older, but I’m not really necessarily giving up on life,” he says. “I’m still willing to try new things and just be open to new opportunities.”

Restaurateur Andy Nguyen, whose relationship with Bun dates to 2010 when Nguyen was working in fashion, used his extensive chef background to design a burger that stands up to the concept of “trill.”

“That’s why this burger was designed to be so simple,” Nguyen says. “So it feels like you’re eating it in your backyard, and it feels like something you can eat again and again and again.”

And the burger is excellent. It’s a startling contrast of textures, connected with an understanding of the delicate flavors needed to elevate a burger, but nostalgia still shines through.

And a nostalgia for Houston is evident in the decor. A prominent yellow, black, and white mural features images honoring the late Pimp C, Bun B’s partner in UGK; DJ Screw’s classic song “Ridin Dirty;” and the Houston Astros. The restaurant is inextricably linked to the city, which is known for its scrappy roots and culture-defining exports.

“Trill,” Bun says, “is something that people don’t take lightly. So anytime someone attaches something to that trill moniker, it’s living up to an even higher standard than normal.”

It’s central to being a Houstonian, and central to the burger joint, no matter where it ends up. (Trill Burgers will be in its current location for six months but hopes to stay longer.)

“We want to be here for a while,” Bun says. “This is not a gimmick, by any means. We expect Trill Burgers to be just as much a part of Houston as anything else.”