Dig into the recipe for this Houston burger bar's success
In a state that's saturated with good burger joints, Grub Burger Bar has found a way to set itself apart. The community-minded company — which started in College Station and calls South Texas home, but now has locations across Texas, along with Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and one each in Delaware and California — puts emphasis not just on its food, but also its culture.
For example, nine employees (or Grubsters, as they're known) have been with the company since Jimmy Loup founded it in March of 2012. Why do they stay? Because Grub stands for Good people, Real food, Unique vibe, and Big flavors.
That "neighborhood hangout" atmosphere isn't manufactured at Grub; if anything, its employees work hard every day to integrate the restaurant into its community. One way they do that is with the Buns Benefiting program, when all the leftover bread is bagged up the next day and donated.
Another is with the Grub Gives Back campaign. Schools, student organizations, and charities can partner with their local Grub for a day, a week, or even a month, so that each time a guest mentions your group at check-out, the program gets a percentage of the order's profits. Grub is also all too happy to donate auction items and prize donations for a worthy cause — all you have to do is ask.
Buns baked from scratch every hour. 100-percent fresh ground beef for the burgers. All sauces (more than 14 and counting) and dressings made in-house. Yeah, you could say that Grub doesn't cut corners. The executive chef is also a perfectionist and is constantly tweaking menu items, from the waffle-cut sweet potato fries to the guacamole, until they are just right. The Bacon Love secret sauce, for example, took nine tries to find its groove, and that's why it's now named Secret Sauce #9.
Grub believes that you should do you. What does that mean? It means dress up, dress down, have a girls' night out or a business lunch, stop in post-workout or come for your next date night — Grub welcomes all of you.
And one way to spend more time soaking up the Grub goodness thanks to a happy hour that runs 11 am-6 pm and 8 pm-close every day. Nibble on items from the special $5 menu while sipping on wine and local drafts, plus all the restaurant's signature cocktails. Hint: Don't miss the Back Porch Punch (a classic Bacardi rum punch with fresh juices) or the Smoke and Mirrors (a bourbon concoction with a hint of orange habañero shrub). Need something heartier? Splurge on any of the handcrafted shakes, all of which can be spiked with alcohol.
It's not just fresh ingredients that make Grub's menu so delicious, but what they turn into. Obviously burgers are the star, with the Lockhart Legend (applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, Dr Pepper barbecue sauce, onion rings, sliced dill pickles) and Mac 'N' Cheeseburger (what more do you need to know there?) leading the pack.
But don't count out the juicy Jive Turkey (ground and seasoned with pesto), the Hippie Chickpea (a combo of chickpeas and eggplant), or the California chicken sandwich (grilled chicken breast, bacon, Swiss, sprouts, avocado, and chipotle aioli on a wheat bun).
And since you can't live on burgers alone, the diverse menu also features stacked salads and bold bowls — think wild-caught salmon, bacon, a black bean and corn medley, lettuce, campari tomatoes, sprouts, queso fresco, and ancho-lime vinaigrette in one bowl, or mixed greens, arugula, goat cheese, strawberries, black mission figs, toasted almonds, and hazelnut vinaigrette filling out another.
And don't forget about such loaded sides as Shiner Bock-battered onion rings, tabbouleh, ancho-lime Brussels sprouts, and both skinny and waffle-cut fries to round it all out.