One of Houston's most acclaimed chefs has unveiled his new burger restaurant. Chris Shepherd's Underbelly Burger is now open at the Houston Farmers Market (2520 Airline Dr.).
With just 14 seats, the restaurant has an intimate feel that captures the retro vibe of a '50s-style diner. Its decorated with hand-painted graphics and vintage burger memorabilia.
As the name implies, Underbelly Burger has a straightforward menu: two different beef burgers, a veggie burger, a fried chicken sandwich, and Chris Shepherd's signature bacon sausage served as a hot dog. Burgers are made with beef sourced from both 44 Farms and R-C Ranch, the Texas wagyu purveyor that recently opened a butcher shop next to Underbelly Burger.
The restaurant's standard burger will be familiar to anyone who's tried the Cease and Desist Burger at Hay Merchant. It's a double-patty cheeseburger topped with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and sauce on a seeded potato bun. Fried chicken sandwiches are seasoned with black pepper buttermilk (similar to Hay Merchant), while the bacon sausage is split down the middle, griddled, and served as two halves in two buns.
Pair any entree with an order of sidewinder fries, which are a thick, spiral cut fry that's crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Kale salad and drinks — sodas, shakes, wine, and beer — round out the offerings.
While the interior seating is limited, Underbelly Burger is located next to the market's expansive green space. A to-go window makes it easy for diners to pick up their sandwiches and eat them outdoors. Online ordering is available through the restaurant's website.
Underbelly Burger is the first of several openings for Chris Shepherd and Underbelly Hospitality. Later this month, Everlong Bar & Hideaway will debut in the former UB Preserv space. On January 23, Georgia James and Hay Merchant will both have their final services in their current home at 1100 Westheimer Rd. Georgia James will relocate to the current One Fifth space for a couple of months until its new home in the Regent Square mixed-use development is ready, while Hay Merchant will close permanently.
The chef has two other new projects in the works: Wild Oats, chef Nick Fine's ode to Texas cuisine that will join Underbelly Burger at the market, and Pastore, an Italian restaurant inspired by One Fifth Red Sauce.
Underbelly Burger's hours of operation are 11 am-6 pm Tuesday through Sunday.