River Phoenix supposedly may have said, “I wouldn't eat a hamburger for 40,000 dollars”, but lots of us eat plenty of burgers for free. And we enjoy them. The abundance of hamburger joints attests to the popularity of a juicy, grilled beef patty on a toasted bun.
What makes a good burger? As a saying goes, “Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.” It all starts with the beef. The best burger chefs carefully select the highest quality of beef, typically a combination of sirloin and chuck, freshly ground that day, with just the right amount of marbling.
Then they add their closely guarded secret recipe of marinades and flavorings, create a hand-formed patty, grill it at just the right temperature, and serve the result on a bun, with lettuce, tomato, onions, mushrooms, and other toppings.
Of course, not every burger place goes to this much trouble, and the patronage they still receive is a testament to our willingness to settle. It’s hard to truly mess up a hamburger, and many of us are willing to accept a passable burger from the place just down the street.
But there are some burger restaurants in town that insist on quality, and it shows in the product they serve and the loyal following they claim. Here is our list of some favorite burger places.
807 W. 6th St., Austin TX 78703
An Austin icon for over 70 years, Hut’s has garnered national attention and been named by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse as one of his favorite burger joints in the U.S.
It has also been selected as the best burger in Texas by Official Best Of and chosen by Austin locals as the best burger for over 25 years running.
Huts offers seemingly endless different burger combinations, with grass-fed beef and buffalo, as well as veggie burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, and Po Boys. Any of the hickory sauce burgers are particularly recommended, as well as the huge, crispy, and slightly spicy onion rings. Here's a video about Hut’s by Official Best Of.
3010 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin TX 78704
Small, and a little hard to find, as it’s located inside a convenience store. Like the McDonald’s you sometimes find inside a WalMart or gas station, similar to that setup.
There’s also a new, second location on the southeast corner of 7th and Congress in central Austin.
They sell locally sourced, natural, grass-fed beef and locally produced vegetables.
The quality of the beef shows through in the burgers they sell. The person at the counter told me the cattle was raised by his uncle at a ranch in Fredericksburg (about 70 miles west of Austin). Besides burgers they also have beef sandwiches, Philly cheesesteaks, and reubens.
The burger I had was perfectly cooked well done and had a somewhat sweet taste. Whether that was from the tomatoes, catsup, the bun, or a combination I’m not sure.
Although not the biggest burger I’ve ever had, it was delicious. I’d swear I could taste the freshness in every bite. The fries, though a little on the bland and soggy side, were only $1 extra with a burger order.
Wholly Cow occupies one corner of a convenience store on South Lamar Blvd.
Wholly Cow's Pure Single with fries. Not the biggest burger we'd ever seen, but it was good.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
1400 S. Congress Ave. Ste. A190, Austin TX 78704
An extremely popular place, as evidenced by the long lines waiting for a table at lunchtime and on weekends. Order your drink while you’re standing in line, then place your burger order at the next counter.
Expect to wait up to 30 minutes at peak times. Better to get there around 5:30 pm, between lunch and dinner. But, as someone said, “after biting into your burger, the memory of the wait will be forgotten and forgiven.”
A wide variety of burgers to choose from, all good. The Magic Shroom (mushrooms and creamy goat cheese) is particularly popular. Fries have an herb seasoning and are good here.
Here’s a video about Hopdoddy that includes an explanation of the restaurant’s unusual name:
7525 Burnet Rd., Austin TX 78757
Another Austin icon, with Texas memorabilia adorning the walls that give the place a small-town Texas feel. The restaurant appeared in the 1993 cult classic Dazed and Confused, and memorabilia from that film also decorates the walls. Friendly service. Burgers have a fresh-off-the-grill, flame-broiled taste. Onion rings are also tasty. If you’re looking to get a flavor of what Austin was like 40 years ago, and have a good burger at the same time, this is a place to come.
Here’s a short video introduction to Top Notch:
4308 Manchaca Rd., Austin TX 78704
844 Airport Blvd., Austin TX 78702
5602 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin TX 78751
A plainly laid out place that simply serves a hot, fresh, tasty hamburger and fries or onion rings, at a very reasonable price. Not the largest burger patty, and not organic, but a satisfying answer to your next burger and fries craving.
Lots of choices, including three sizes of burgers, two order sizes of regular or curly fries, and onion rings, chips, and jalapenos. For flavor variety, they also offer hickory and jalapeno burgers.
Need more choices?
View the maps below for other burger restaurant choices around town.
Click here for a list and map of Austin Burger restaurants (opens in a new tab).
Austin Burger News
National chain Burger 21 plans first Austin location
Burger 21, a Tampa, Florida-based burger chain with 12 locations on the East Coast, plans to open its first Austin location in 2015, in the Arboretum area. The chain is expanding with 20 new locations nationwide, including several in Houston and Dallas.
The restaurant is known for unusual burger offerings such as chicken, tuna, shrimp, and turkey burgers. Burger 21 was recently ranked #5 on the restaurant industry's publication Fast Casual's list of 100 Movers and Shakers.
Do you have a favorite burger restaurant in Austin? Or do you have a story about such a restaurant, maybe one of the restaurants listed on this page? Tell us about your favorite burger restaurant, or share your story here.