EaDo revelers and residents have a new burger option — just in time for baseball and soccer seasons.
Rodeo Goat, the Fort Worth-based burger joint, opened its Houston outpost in the East Village development that’s home to SeaSide Poke, nightlife hotspot Chapman & Kirby, and three upcoming concepts from Coltivare owners Agricole Hospitality.
Co-owner Keith Schlabs tells CultureMap that the company, which also operates the Flying Saucer craft beer bar and a seafood restaurant called Flying Fish that’s coming to The Heights later this year, had been looking for the right Houston outpost for Rodeo Goat. They chose East Village for several reasons, including EaDo’s up-and-coming status as a dining destination and the free parking lots on St. Emanuel that are available for customers of the development’s tenants.
Located in a converted warehouse, the space has been designed by company president Shannon Wynne to resemble a stock show (hence the name). The industrial look features brick walls, concrete floors, and exposed duct work. Outside, the expansive patio seats about 200 people split between three levels.
An open kitchen features an eight-foot long flat top grill that allows diners to watch the cooks in action. Landon Amis, the general manager of the Fort Worth store who’s in Houston to help the new location during opening, notes the design has another benefit.
“It catches your attention and excites your sense,” Amis says. “You see the kitchen and hear the sizzle. You can tell someone put a lot of thought into the details.”
Of course, the most stylish decor doesn’t matter if the food isn’t good. Rodeo Goat’s burgers start with Texas-raised beef from 44 Farms that’s hormone and antibiotic-free. Patties are ground in-house daily and served on a bun that’s toasted with coconut oil. Sauces, dressings, and a dozen different aiolis are all made from scratch. First-time visitors can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the experience.
“Watching over the years, people’s body language changes. They’re not used to burgers tasting that good,” Amis says. “I’ve heard it too many times from folks. One person told me it reminds him of the burgers he ate growing up on a cattle farm. We season it right and we pair it with some fun and interesting flavors.”
Those fun flavors come courtesy of a wide variety of creative toppings. For example, the Sugar Burger comes with grilled peaches, candied bacon, caramelized onions, arugula, and jalapeno jam. A few are named after famous Houstonians, including the Marvin Zindler (bacon, cheddar, jalapenos, fried onion ring, tomato, lettuce, and barbecue sauce) and the “330-8004” (garlic-roasted cremini mushrooms, pickled onions, gruyere, soy caramel glaze). From those adventurous toppings to a basic River Oaks C.C., all of the burgers are cooked to order, which can occasionally cause a problem when the dining room fills up.
“Customers sometimes have to wait 30 minutes for a burger,” Schlabs says. “I hope when it hits the table that it’s delicious, and the service staff has gone to the table to offer some chips and salsa while they wait.”
Also helping ease the wait are a full range of craft beers, cocktails, and milkshakes made with Blue Bell ice cream. Local breweries like Brash, 8th Wonder, Saint Arnold, Sigma and Eureka Heights are all available, as are Texas and national craft options and even a few domestic lagers. Fries and potato chips (both cut in-house) are available on the side.
Houston doesn’t lack for burger options, but the crowds lining up for Hopdoddy and Shake Shack demonstrate that the city is always willing to sample a new option. A track record of success in other Texas cities doesn’t always translate into success in the Bayou City, but a restaurant that offers a welcoming space in a rising neighborhood, friendly service, and good ingredients prepared right should lure people to check it out.
Rodeo Goat, 2118 Lamar St., Suite 102 (corner of St. Emanuel St.); Sunday through Thursday, 11 am to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to midnight