Arguing about which restaurants serve Houston's best burgers is as much a part of life in the city as complaining about the Texans quarterback situation or double-checking that the premiums on your flood insurance are current. When an authority as well-respected as Texas Monthly selects eight Houston-area restaurants for its list of the 50 greatest burgers in Texas, people are bound to pay attention, especially since the magazine writes that its "team of 24 fearless, bordering on fanatical, eaters" sampled 367 individual burgers to compile the rankings.
As with any list of this sort, diners will find both pleasant surprises and outright, how-the-hell-did-they-leave-that-off snubs. Perhaps what's most striking is that none of the Houston burgers on Texas Monthly's 2009 list of the state's top burgers made this year's version. That means venerable Houston institutions like Becks Prime, Lankford Grocery, Max's Wine Dive, and Mockingbird Bistro no longer serve the state's best burgers.
On a more positive note, Hubcap Grill makes the coveted top five with its signature Philly Cheese Steak Burger. "There’s a special place in the hearts of burger fans for a juicy, char-y slab of ground beef topped with even more beef," the magazine writes about Hubcap's burger. "Such is the case here, with owner Ricky Craig’s redoubtable hand-formed all-chuck patties smothered in a promiscuous pile of thin-sliced ribeye soaked in a savory mayo sauce with Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and bell peppers. Despite the high level of ooziness, the house-made buns form a sturdy platform for easy eating."
For his part, Craig is thrilled to be included. "I'm very humbled and honored to be included in Texas Monthly," Craig told CultureMap in a text. "I don't consider myself the best . . . just one of the best because there are so many other great burger places. Congrats to all the other burger joints who made the list. I'm thankful and blessed."
Other no-brainers on the Houston portion of the list include the Homeroom from Bernie's Burger Bus and the Original Bacon Cheeseburger from Stanton's City Bites. New restaurants also did well, with Killen's Burgers, the Burger Joint and State of Grace all earning spots. Cottonwood and Moon Tower Inn count as pleasant surprises, as does Grafittis earning an honorable mention.
While capturing 16-percent of the list is a strong showing that ties with Dallas for the most from any individual city, Texas Monthly still misses many of the city's best burgers. Diners may notice obvious omissions like Hay Merchant's Cease and Desist burger or Down House's kimchi burger. Newer establishments like Southern Goods, Hunky Dory, and Kuma Burger may also be surprised to see they've been excluded. Did the magazine forget to visit The Woodlands? Neither Fielding's Wood Grill nor Hubbell & Hudson Bistro appear on the list either.
Price certainly isn't the reason none of those places made the cut. According to the magazine, the $18 brisket burger with pork belly served at Folc in San Antonio is the best burger in Texas.