At Thrillist, we think it’s an understatement to call us “burger lovers,” and we have no doubt that Houstonians feel the same way about their favorite fast food. The residents of this “beef town” are spoiled for choice when it comes to satisfying their burger cravings, so we took it upon ourselves to scour the streets in search of the finest examples of the genre, from classic burger diners serving sloppy masterpieces to ultra-hip burger bars serving up the latest Smashburger craze and everything in between. If you’re in Houston, this is the place to go for the best burgers.
1. Good Vibes Burgers & Brews
Beginning as a burger business in 2023 and evolving into a full-on seaside kitchen, this newcomer is the brainchild of executive chef and owner Eric Nelson (previously of Galveston’s Prime 13). It’s a bit different from the original idea, but it still serves great burgers and has a great atmosphere. You’ll have to make a tough decision between the Kraken, a fan favorite with its cracked pepper coated patty, gooey onions, Muenster, shrooms, and silky peppercorn Cognac sauce, and the half-pound Good Vibes Signature with wagyu, pepper bacon, Gouda cheese, vibing sauce, and a cheesy garlic bun.
2. Hangar Kitchen
Planning to depart from Hobby Airport? This burger and beer mecca, located in a converted airplane hangar near the airport and set to debut in the latter half of 2020, is worth planning for. It offers a sturdy roster of big, juicy beef bombs accompanied by housemade sauces like Bulldog sauce, a mashup of ketchup, mustard, mayo, and barbecue that dresses patties of all sorts like the no-nonsense house-ground chuck Straight Up burger as well as the more adventurous Notorious P.I.G., which cradles beef and bacon patties beneath a dollop of “super melty” beer cheese. The Billionaire Tots, stuffed with goat cheese, smoked cheddar, truffle butter, additional bacon, and a sunny egg, are the ideal side dish.
3. FM Kitchen and Bar
The only thing missing from this shack-style burger is a slab of good ol’ American cheese to complement the FM Kitchen and Bar Secret “shhh” sauce, the toasty potato bun, the lettuce, tomato, and onion, and the wonderfully griddled patties. The signature FM Burger is included in the late-night-only food and drink specials at the burger joint’s second location in Montrose, along with other house favorites including loaded tots, fried pickles, and shakes.
4. Hubcap Grill & Beer Yard
Hubcap’s hand-formed, crisply seared patties are a hit with burger aficionados, and they look great between buns designed to handle the inevitable drips of grease. We recommend the Hubcap Decker, a behemoth with twice as much meat and cheese for double the enjoyment. The ingredients are piled high on a slice of fresh bread with special mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles in a club sandwich configuration. You can go HAM by piling on the chili and cheese, or you can get a side of double-fried, fresh-cut fries.
5. Stanton’s City Bites
Visit this local burger champion for a delicious meal and a taste of yesteryear. The family-owned grocery store has been serving Houston residents since the 1960s, so it must be doing something right. The Original Bacon Cheeseburger should be your starting point, even if you want to go all out and stack candied bacon and hash potatoes on top of your nicely crusted, loosely packed patties.
A few years ago, our in-house burger specialist raced throughout Houston in search of the finest classic cheeseburgers. The notion of him sprinting after consuming nine meat sandwiches makes us sick to our stomachs, but you get the idea. The wonderfully spicy, pristinely crusted, and tastefully smashed patties at this long-running bayside institution won his heart in the end. Take it to go if you don’t feel like sharing a picnic table with a bunch of motorcyclists and old men in Tommy Bahama shirts, or eat it there.
7. Lankford’s Grocery & Market
Want to ruin your hard work getting into summer shape? Grab a beef joint from this amazing greasy lunch-only place that is extremely unhealthy for you but so worth it. Lankford was started in 1939 as a grocery store, and since the 1970s, it has been steadily amassing a loyal following of burger lovers. Fans of blistering heat should choose the Firehouse Burger, which is flaming hot thanks to the addition of cayenne butter, jalapenos, and habanero sauce. A pimento cheeseburger, a Patty Melt, and a Grim Burger dripping with mac and cheese and a sunny egg are a few of the other options.
This fan favorite has outgrown its Greenway Plaza food court booth and has moved on to greater things. Single, double, or triple layered and adorned with toppings ranging from pickled habanero and fried egg to house sambal aioli, the Galleria neighborhood now has access to aggressively griddled, umami-packed burgers. The newer, larger patty is also an option. Don’t overlook the little ones with your selection.
9. Hopdoddy Burger Bar Vintage Park
Despite the band’s Austin roots, Houston fans are raving about its all-natural lineup. Go traditionalist with The Classic, dressed simply with the usual suspects (AKA LTO) and feisty sauce, a mind-blowingly excellent combo of mayo, mustard, and horseradish that gets that beef into gear. Choose from house specialties like the Goodnight/Good Cause burger topped with jalapenos, caffeinated BBQ sauce, and a gift to a local charity, or the Impossible burger, a meatless option so delicious you won’t even miss the meat.
10. The Burger Joint
This local joint, which has expanded to two locations, is known for its hand-formed 44 Farms patties that sit nicely atop pillowy buns. BBQ burgers with bacon and onion rings; Mexi burgers with jalapenos, avocados, and queso fresco; Kimchi burgers with fried eggs, cheddar, and kimchi; and Smoke Stacks with pulled pork, slaw, and mac and cheese will all satisfy your burger desires. The Traditional is also an excellent option.
11. Tejas Burger Joint
Burgers are the focus of a new business from the smoke masterminds behind Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue. Tejas is known for its famous smoked burgers, which are given a heavy dose of salt and pepper before being smoked over wood and served on a buttery potato bun. Get the Smokehouse Burger, a half-pounder topped with smoked cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions, and green onion aioli that gives the flavorful Angus beef an extra boost.
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