August 2009 Issue

On the Cover

The 50 Greatest Hamburgers In Texas

On our first-ever quest for the state’s best burgers, we covered more than 12,000 miles, ate at more than 250 restaurants, and gained, collectively, more than 40 pounds. Our dauntless determination (and fearless fat intake) was rewarded with a list of 50 transcendent burgers—and you’ll never guess which one ended up on top.


Pitch Perfect

What’s the secret to writing a great country song? Which comes first, music or lyrics? Looking to answer these and other questions, we gathered a group of singer-songwriters—Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen, Sonny Throckmorton, Patty Griffin, and Jack Ingram—set out a couple guitars, and let the tape roll.


The Judgment of Sharon Keller

Her decision to close the door on a death row inmate’s final plea has earned the state’s top criminal judge lasting infamy and a misconduct investigation that goes to trial this month. But was she wrong?


How We Did It

Our 31 researchers were given rigorous training and dispatched to the field with packets of wet ones, bottles of Tums, and a scientific score sheet (the one pictured at right is from the Cove, in San Antonio, whose Texas Burger ranked number five on our list).As soon as the burger

Famous Texans on Their Favorite Burgers

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. Rebecca RobinsonMiss Texas 2008, Miss Congeniality in Miss America 2009Lives in Dallas Rebecca


Oscar Casares

Therapy Room

An exclusive excerpt from writer-at-large Oscar Casares's forthcoming first novel, Amigoland


How to Brew Sweet Tea

It seems simple enough—make tea, add sugar—but brewing a high-class glass of Southern champagne is “all about time, temperature, and quality,” according to Clayton Christopher, the founder of Austin-based Sweet Leaf Tea Company. He should know: In just over ten years, he’s gone from making batches of the stuff at

Jim Adler, Personal-Injury Lawyer

Adler, who grew up in Dallas, has been a personal-injury lawyer for 36 years. He is the founder of the Houston law firm Jim S. Adler & Associates and appears in television ads in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.I started out doing law enforcement work for the Texas State Securities

C. Andrew Doyle

“The complexities of the world are just now being tippy-toed into by churches, and that keeps us out of a place where people can find us, where they’re building community. It’s not that we’re locked out; it’s that we can’t find the door.”

Object Lesson

Liz Lambert’s Office

Lawyer-turned-hotelier Liz Lambert ushered in a retail and restaurant renaissance on Austin’s South Congress Avenue when she transformed the Hotel San José from a pimp-and-pusher paradise to a chic bungalow-style retreat. The 45-year-old Midland native (who also owns the hipster coffee hangout Jo’s) has become the authority on Texas

Book Review

Rhino Ranch

It was 1966 when Thalia high schooler Duane Moore, along with his girlfriend, Jacy Farrow, made his first appearance, in The Last Picture Show. Now, 43 years later, Larry McMurtry presents Rhino Ranch, a fond adieu to his most enduring character. This presumably final book in the trilogy

Book Review

Trust Me

With his eleventh novel, the slick techie thriller Trust Me, Austinite Jeff Abbott posits what everyone fears to be true: that crazies lurking on the World Wide Web will someday emerge from the cybershadows and make very bad things happen. University of Texas grad student Luke Dantry uncovers

Artist Interview

Nina Diaz

The 21-year-old lead singer and guitarist for San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma leaped onto the rock scene in 2007 after she and her bandmates (drummer and older sister Phanie, bassist Jenn Alva) were discovered by Joan Jett—who promptly signed them to her label—and invited to open concerts for Morrissey.

Music Review


Can a completely unpredictable rock band do something to surprise you? No one took The Mars Volta guitarist and producer Omar Rodriguez-López that seriously when he dropped hints that his band’s next album would be “acoustic.” The group’s relentless sonic assaults are legendary, with lonnnng prog-ish jams punctuated by

Music Review


The near-collapse of the record business has left us with fewer and fewer recordings by young, emerging jazz talent. For the most part, unless you (1) live in New York City and (2) hang out in its clubs, you’re out of luck. Thankfully, there are exceptions, and a notable one

Author Interview

Cecil Kuhne

Near Death in the Desert: True Stories of Disaster and Survival is the fourth and final book in a series of anthologies about high adventures that devolve into life-or-death situations (Near Death on the High Seas, Near Death in the Mountains, and Near Death in the Arctic). The editor, who


Web Exclusive

Living the Dream

For 35 years, the Big Burger and Coca Cola Museum was that nebulous wonder of Monahans—and that’s just the way its founders, Elaine and Dan Wetzig, wanted it.


Chop-House Burger With Parmesan Chive Fries

Chop House Burger1/2 pound fresh ground hamburger patty (we use a 77/23 blend) pinch of kosher salt and cracked pepper ciabatta bun 2 slices applewood-smoked bacon 2 slices cheddar cheese 1 1/2 ounces shredded iceberg lettuce 2 slices tomato 3 rings red onion 4 pickle slicesSeason hamburger patty with salt


Grady’s 3M Burgers

1 1/2 pounds coarse-ground chuck 1 1/2 pounds coarse-ground sirloin 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus some to taste 2 tablespoons coarse-ground pepper 4 tablespoons brown sugar 6 quality hamburger bunsPreheat grill to medium high and lightly grease the grate. In a mixing bowl, combine chuck, sirloin, salt, pepper, and brown

Soul Food

Julie Powell, the author, blogger, and inspiration for the film Julie & Julia, discusses living in New York, missing Austin, and seeing her life on the big screen.


Grilled Caprese Salad

If you thread this appetizer onto wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for 20 to 30 minutes beforehand to ensure they don’t burn on the grill.3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing 2 pints cherry tomatoes 1 twelve-ounce container fresh mozzarella, drained and cut into 1-inch

Mismanaged Care

A unique confluence of medicine, money, and politics is driving health care costs in the Rio Grande Valley. At the center of it all is a Democrat from Palmview, who is already under indictment for unreported income.

Kevin McCarthy, Jacob Schulze, and the author.


When the legendary Liberty Lunch club closed in July 1999, senior editor and musician Michael Hall came up with a way to say goodbye to an era—play “Gloria” for 24 hours straight.


Editor's Letter

Grease and Desist

To: Mr. John DeStefano Jr., mayor of New Haven, Connecticut; Mr. Thomas J. Moses Sr., mayor of the Village of Hamburg, New York; Mr. Kenneth Rottier, mayor of Seymour, WisconsinDear Sirs,It has come to our attention that the localities of which you are the elected representatives have for many years

Roar of the Crowd

The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse: Gary Cartwright

One can only guess at what motivated Gary Cartwright to write such a mean story about the state of today’s sportswriting [“Game Over,” June 2009]. I’m sure that he sorely misses those drunken days of debauchery at the heels of Blackie Sherrod, but to take cheap shots at today’s

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