On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Justin Turner joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Bernie's Burger Bus, his food truck-turned-restaurant. In the next month or so, Turner will open his fourth location in Missouri City.
Turner brings an obsessive focus on quality to each Bernie's burger. The restaurant makes all of its own sauces, including ketchup, as well as pickles and burger patties. That attention to detail has allowed Bernie's to thrive in Houston's competitive burger market. Sandler asks Turner about his restaurant in The Heights where Bernie's competes with Becks Prime, Hubcap Grill, Hopdoddy, and others. How does he stand out when diners have so many choices?
"It's not a competition. Like I said, those guys, Matt Pak (The Burger Joint), Ricky Craig (Hubcap Grill), I have a lot of respect for them, local Houstonians that are putting out great products," Turner says. "They do a different product than I do. I set out to make my own condiments to be different. If you come to Bernie's, it's a Bernie's burger. It's not a Hubcap burger, it's not a Burger Joint burger. But you are supporting local Houstonian business owners and fellow Houstonian employees instead of going to Shake Shack and Hopdoddy...As Houstonians, we should be proud of the products we have here, and we should support those."
Later, he adds, "I can only concern myself with what I do. We concentrate on putting out our product the best we can."
Prior to Turner joining the show, Urban Swank blogger Felice Sloan joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include Cuc Lam's sudden departure from Sing, Shake Shack's plans to open a new location in downtown Houston, speculation about what Agricole Hospitality might be up to with the former Blue Line Bike Lab space, and Pinkerton's BBQ's plans for San Antonio. In the restaurants of the week segment, they discuss why people should order Mexican instead of Tex-Mex at Killen's TMX and the highs and lows of Ishin Udon.