I'll tell you a secret that could get me run out of Texas: I'm not much of a burger person. At least, it’s never been my go-to menu choice. Most of the time, I want my food in a tortilla, and not on a bun. I'll only order a burger when it's a total showstopper. (And even then I bliss out over it so much that my fellow dinners are probably glad I don't order burgers more often.) The entries on the list below meet that high standard. With each one, you'll get a distinctively Austin burger, made with care, in a distinctively Austin setting, from a dark Sixth Street dive to a buzzy downtown bar to a really old-school burger stand. Suddenly, I'm craving like all of these. Maybe it's time to rethink that “not a burger person” stance. Read on for the best burgers in Austin.
Casino El Camino
My favorite burger—indeed, one of my favorite things on this Earth—comes from this dark bar on Sixth Street. It's three-quarters of a pound of fresh-ground Angus beef, cooked medium, with plenty of punk rock joie de vivre. I get it with hot sauce (which they don't skimp on) and blue cheese.
El Sapo Botanas y Burgers
New from the folks behind the popular El Chile Mexican restaurants, El Sapo serves a lineup of burgers with Tex-Mex flavor—thanks to toppings such as roasted jalapenos, refried black beans, pico de gallo and chorizo—not to mention a healthy sense of humor. (To wit: The fiery red Diablito cocktail with chile-mango "horns.")
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
OK, so they have kind of a weird line system, but there's a reason there's always a line. Hopdoddy crafts burgers from Angus or Texas Akaushi beef, as well as bison, lamb and ahi tuna, and serves them with craft beers. If you can save some room for them, shakes include creative flavors such as Nutella-and-chocolate-pretzel.
Second Bar + Kitchen
Second, the less-formal (but still sharp) sibling to the acclaimed Congress restaurant next door, has earned plenty of accolades of its own, including for its Congress Burger, made from house-ground brisket and chuck. Get the black truffle fries as a side. To drink? Beer from a Texas brewery such as Live Oak, Austin Beerworks or Independence Brewing.
Dirty Martin's Place
Ready for some of the most history-rich burgers you can get in Austin? This little stand near the University of Texas has been serving up burgers, shakes and more for almost 90 years. These days, you can even get veggie burgers, something founder John Martin probably couldn't have imagined way back in 1926.