A Place Called Uncertain

I sometimes resort to an unconventional method when planning a road trip — unfold a Texas map, adjust my bifocals, and then look for the most interesting place names. That’s the way my East Texas road trip came about. Actually, my wife Cheryl found the spot on the map and suggested we head in the direction of Uncertain.
I was so happy to learn that there is actually a place in Texas named Uncertain. How cool is that. It was settled, then. The only thing we were certain of was heading to Uncertain. Any other stops along the way would be at our whim. When Cheryl and I do this kind of road trip we don’t make lodging reservations ahead of time so that we can be free to head in any direction we want.
There are a couple of stories about how Uncertain got its name. One story suggests that the place was once known as Uncertain Landing and got its name because steamboat captains often had a hard time mooring their vessels there. Another story suggests that the town got its name before the border between the United States and the Republic of Texas was finally established. Before that time residents were uncertain about their citizenship.
Uncertain is an incorporated community located deep in the heart of East Texas. Situated along the shores of Caddo Lake, the largest natural lake in Texas, Uncertain is a little place with a whole lot of stuff going on. Locals offer boat tours that take guests through the largest bald cypress forest in the world. These big old trees give Caddo Lake a unique and mysterious personality.
You’ll find several small businesses in Uncertain and a non-denominational place of worship understandably called The Church of Uncertain. But don’t let the name fool you. This little house of worship is certain about the doctrinal essentials that make it vital to the spiritual health of the community.
There are a few places to eat in Uncertain but we chose to stop at a place called Shady Glade Cafe. This little joint has a cool local vibe and offers a great selection of home-style meals, including burgers. The big guy seated next to us ordered a chicken fried steak that was bigger than the plate. I ordered the Baconator with cheese, seasoned fries, and iced tea.
As he was leaving the big guy turned, took a deep breath, and said to me, “I can put away a lot of groceries, but I could not finish that chicken fried steak.” I can understand why. It was huge! As for my burger, it was really good, especially the generous meat patty that had a great flavor. There was a steady stream of customers the whole time we were there. That in itself is a good endorsement.
Bottom line — we enjoyed our drive through this small community where folks make their livelihood from catering to tourists and fishermen to Caddo Lake. The folks we met while there were all very friendly and helpful. So, one thing is certain — we enjoyed our brief time in Uncertain and glad that this was our first stop on our East Texas road trip.

Comfort Cafe in Comfort

Comfort is just a tiny little dot on Texas roadmaps. Located west of San Antonio along Interstate 10, Comfort is a popular tourist area with great recreational access to the Guadalupe River. While traveling to Big Bend, my buddies and I approached Comfort just in time for lunch. Our hunger led us straight to the Comfort Cafe.
Comfort Cafe SignThe Comfort Cafe is small enough to be considered a hole-in-the-wall but, as we would soon discover, big enough to deliver on flavor. The place was clean as a whistle and the staff was more than eager to help. Friendly staff always helps make any dining experience that much more pleasant.
Comfort Cafe MenuI ordered a bacon cheeseburger with a side of onion rings and a glass of iced tea — my standard order on my burger adventures. From where I was sitting I could see into the kitchen area where my burger was being made to order. I could even hear the meat sizzling on the grill, releasing its burger perfume into the air.
Comfort Cafe BurgerWhen my order arrived I cut my burger in half and was pleased to see the generous portion of meat. The bacon was crispy, the cheese perfectly melted, and the bun lightly toasted. All of the ingredients were obviously fresh. The only thing that remained was to take a bite.
Comfort Cafe Burger HalfBottom line — the burger was unquestionably tasty. Everything about this burger worked well together. Someone had obviously given some thought to how a burger should be prepared and did not compromise at any point on delivering a delicious burger. I made it a point to thank the folks in the kitchen, something easy to do in a small place like this.
comfort-cafe-interiorThe Comfort Cafe has only been opened a short while, but I am confident it will be around for a long time. If I lived anywhere near Comfort I would surely make it a point to make my way to the Comfort Cafe as often as possible. I loved the whole dining experience, especially the ambiance that is unique to small town mom and pop eateries.
comfort-cafe-exteriorIf your road trips ever take you anywhere near Comfort, consider pulling off the main drag and making your way to the Comfort Cafe. Little stops along the way like the Comfort Cafe just add a magical element to any road trip. Embrace the experience. Enjoy the food. Make good memories with friends and family.

High Sierra Bar and Grill

Terlingua is a place like none other in the Lone Star State. Nestled between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park, this ghost town has a character uniquely its own. The name of the town is derived from the Spanish words “tres lenguas” meaning “three tongues” — a reference to English, Spanish, and Native American, the three languages spoken there in the days of the Old West.
Terlingua SignIf you have never ventured to the Chihuahuan Desert or to Terlingua, you owe it to yourself to visit this fascinating and mesmerizingly beautiful part of Texas. Terlingua was once a thriving mining town that was abandoned after the Second World War. Starting in the 1970’s, Terlingua became a destination for adventurers, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, and just plain folks who were bewitched by the old ghost town and decided to stay.
High Sierra Bar and GrillOn a recent visit to Big Bend Ranch State Park, my buddies and I ventured to the High Sierra Bar and Grill in Terlingua in search of a hunger busting burger. There are not a lot of places to eat in Terlingua so we were happy to find the High Sierra and even happier to learn that they had burgers on the menu.

I ordered my usual bacon cheeseburger with a side of onion rings and a tall glass of iced tea. We enjoyed the ambiance of the place while we waited for our burgers. The staff was friendly. The iced tea was cold. The mix of locals and outsiders made for some interesting people watching. And the music was perfect, especially because Johnny Cash was on the playlist.
High Sierra BurgerMy burger and hand-battered onion rings arrived hot and ready to eat. The generous-sized and cheese covered meat patty was cooked just the way I like. The bun was slathered with a combination of mustard and mayo, every ingredient was fresh, and the bacon was nice and crispy. I cut my burger in half and eagerly took my first bite.
High Sierra Sliced BurgerThe first bite always tells the story. And this first bite was delicious. Wow — it was so good. I savored every tasty bite. When I finished, my only regret was that I did not have the bandwidth in my stomach (nor the metabolism) to do it all over again. Without question, this was one of the best burgers I have eaten in the Lone Star State. And the onion rings were pretty tasty in their own right. All in all — a delicious meal!

No matter where you go in Texas, you can find a delicious burger. However, you must be willing to get off the beaten path and walk into places you might not otherwise visit. I’m glad we stopped to eat at the High Sierra Bar and Grill. This eatery will remain high on my list of places to eat the next time I venture west of the Pecos River. If you find yourself anywhere near the ghost town of Terlingua, check out the High Sierra Bar and Grill.

Champ Burger of Houston

Among the hidden treasures in the Lone Star State are off-the-beaten-path burger joints that serve up some of the finest burgers on the planet. This week I had an opportunity to venture from my suburban home in Katy to Houston’s Second Ward to eat a burger at Champ Burger — a fifty-plus year burger establishment on the corner of Sampson and Garrow.
champ-burgerChamp Burger is an old-fashioned walk-up burger place with plenty of shaded outdoor seating. They have a window where you can place your order and another where you can pick-up phone orders. Both had a steady stream of customers when I was there. That in itself is a great recommendation. And, to make things even better, the staff was very friendly and helpful.
champ-burger-exteriorIf there is such thing as a Burger Heaven, then Champ Burger is definitely in. The burger-aroma around the joint was heavy and heavenly. As usual, I ordered a bacon cheeseburger with a side of onion rings and a glass of iced tea. Within minutes of sitting down my order was ready. And then, the best part — eating!
champ-burgerI was immediately impressed with the size of this single patty burger. The bun was toasted to perfection, the cheese-covered meat patty was generous and juicy, the bacon was crisp, and the veggies were fresh. Everything looked delicious and inviting. As for my first bite — oh my soul. It was absolutely delicious. Within seconds I knew that this was one of the best burgers I have ever tasted.
chamop-burger-menuI know that fast food joints serve a purpose. But why, when you have options like this, would anyone want to eat a fast food burger. It’s definitely worth taking a few extra minutes to drive to a place like Champ Burger to make lunch a little more of an enjoyable adventure. Some regard Champ Burger as one of Houston’s Best Kept Secrets. I agree but want to do what I can to let the secret out.
champ-burger-signjpgI love finding places like Champ Burger. These guys have been around for more than fifty years for good reason. They have perfected the preparation of an unforgettable burger that keeps drawing customers back again and again. If you live anywhere in the greater Houston area, you owe it to yourself to give Champ Burger a try. If you are traveling anywhere near Houston and love burger adventures, then swing by and see the folks at Champ Burger. You’ll definitely be glad you did!

Brown’s Drive In

One of the best things about a Texas road trip is the opportunity to discover new places to enjoy a burger far from home. I have a no fast-food rule when I am trekking across the Lone Star State. I figure that since I have to eat anyway, I may as well make every meal an adventure. And that means discovering new places to eat.

On a recent trek from my home in Katy to the Guadalupe Mountains, a buddy and I decided to find a burger joint in Kerrville. As I have done on many occasions, I asked Siri to recommend “places to eat a burger near me.” Brown’s Drive In showed up on that list and so we turned on our navigation and headed that way.
Brown's Drive InHoused in a hard-to-miss red building with white trim on Sidney Baker Street South, we parked and then took our hungry selves inside. The building is modest in size and smothered in fragrant burger aroma. There is seating both inside and out and a drive-thru window that kept the staff hopping.

I ordered the smaller quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger on a jalapeño infused sourdough bun. Speaking of hamburger buns, God bless whoever had the brilliant idea of putting jalapeño bits into hamburger buns. You did all true Texans a great favor by going beyond in your creative culinary pursuits. I also ordered onion rings and a glass of tea.
Brown's Drive In BurgerSince the inside dining area was filled with customers, we sat at one of the picnic tables on the front porch. As for the burger, it was absolutely delicious. Everything about this burger worked well. All of the ingredients were fresh. The meat was juicy and cooked to perfection. The onion rings were crispy and tasty. All in all, this was a delicious meal.
Brown's Drive In Burger ProfileIf you find yourself traveling anywhere near Kerrville at lunch time (or anytime), make it a point to stop by Brown’s and try one of their delicious burgers. They have been around for a long time, know what they’re doing, and have a loyal customer base — perhaps the best recommendation of all.

Mig’s Burgers

After several days of hiking in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, a friend and I decided to travel west toward Salt Flat to explore some of the backroads in this vast part of the Lone Star State. There is a whole lot of openness out in the Trans-Pecos that has a calming beauty all its own. This is quintessential cowboy country for sure.

As we traveled west on US 180, the Guadalupe Mountains slowly faded from view and nothing but the horizon loomed in front of us. And I do mean nothing but the horizon. We eventually headed south on FM 1111 toward Interstate 10 — a long stretch of road that eventually led us to a little town called Sierra Blanca.

Sierra Blanca, translated White Mountains, is a Census Designated Place with a population of less than six-hundred people. This nearly invisible little town is located 30-miles from the Mexican border and 80-miles southeast of El Paso. It has the distinction of being the county seat of the sparsely populated Hudspeth County.
Mig's BurgersWe arrived in Sierra Blanca at noon and were hungry for a good burger. That’s when I noticed a Border Patrol vehicle parked in front of Mig’s Burgers. Since there are not a lot of places to eat in Sierra Blanca and because we did not want to drive to the next town on empty stomachs, we decided to check out Mig’s.
Mig's Burgers InteriorWhen we walked in I noticed the two border patrol guys seated at a table. I walked over and asked them if the food was good. They smiled and pointed to their empty plates and assured me I would not be disappointed. So, we sat down, checked out the menu, and placed our order. I ordered a jalapeño cheeseburger and onion rings with a glass of tea.
Mig's MenuWe were surprised to learn that Mig’s has only been opened for about four months. That’s why I did not find any recommendations when I checked my Yelp! and Trip Advisor apps. But, no worries since we had it on good authority — literally — that the food was good. And indeed it was.
Mig's Burger ViewMy bacon cheeseburger was prepared to perfection and was absolutely delicious — and not just because I had spent several days hiking and had an appetite the size of Texas. It was really good. The onion rings were store-bought and nothing to write home about, and that’s ok. The burger, however, met and exceeded my expectations.
Mig's SignI hope Mig’s gets enough drive by business to stay in business. The folks that run the place are friendly and attentive to customer needs. And they definitely know how to put together a good burger. I wish Mig’s the very best as they grow their business. Be sure to stop by if you ever find yourself in this far-flung region of the Lone Star State.

2-M’s Malt N Burger Mart

One of the things I miss the most when I travel internationally is a good Texas hamburger. After returning home from back-to-back trips to the Amazon and El Salvador, I hopped in my pick up and headed to Rosenberg in search of a burger dive. As I often do, I stopped to ask a local for a recommendation. I had already eaten at the first two joints but had not heard of the third — 2-M’s Malt N Burger Mart.
2-ms-sign2-M’s has been around since 1963. The drive-in style building features awning-shaded parking out front and a small dining area inside. I like places like this. Other than showing its age, this place looks pretty much the way it must have looked when it was first built. This was obviously a popular joint. Lots of folks ordered at the pick-up window while a few dined inside.
img_0662I ordered a cheeseburger with all of the fixings plus french fries and sweet tea. I sat my burger deprived body down and waited anxiously to hear the words I longed to hear — Order 72. Within minutes I picked up my burger basket and tea and sat down to enjoy the first burger I have eaten in weeks.
2-M's OrderI unwrapped my burger and took my first bite. Not disappointed. This was just an honestly good burger built around a modest on-the-thinner-side meat patty. All of the flavors blended together well. I enjoyed the burger, not just because it has been a while since I’ve had a burger, but because it was genuinely tasty.
2-M's Burger BasketThe sign out front boasts “Voted Best Burger in Fort Bend County.” Whether or not you agree with that assessment, you can’t argue against the fact that for the past 53 years the locals have cast their vote by keeping the doors of this joint open. That is the vote that matters the most. And, I’m glad that the place has retained its weathered vintage charm.
2-M's Burger w BiteThose of you who read my burger reviews know that I would rather eat at a burger dive any day of the week than to cross the threshold of a fast food joint. I love the adventure of stumbling across places like 2-M’s. You might not live anywhere near Rosenberg, but I’ll bet that you can find a burger joint near you that will win you over with taste and charm. When you do, be sure to let me know and I’ll add it to my list of places to visit on a future Texas road trip.

The Thirsty Parrot

The Thirsty Parrot has been on my list of places to visit ever since I first drove past the place a few years ago. Located on FM 359 in what remains of Monaville in Waller County, you can hardly miss the place.

As for Monaville, it’s been around for a while. In 1886, a fellow named Daniel C. Singletary opened the first post office and grocery store and named the community in honor of his daughter Mona. Monaville never made it big. As a matter of fact, it never even made it small. There is not much left to see in Monaville.
thirsty-parot-exteriorThe Thirsty Parrot has been around for a while. It is a favorite watering hole for bikers, road trippers, farmers and ranchers, and families. I was happy to learn that the regional chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse gather at The Thirsty Parrot. Love what these guys do to protect and champion the rights of abused kids.

I finally had the opportunity to go to The Thirsty Parrot when a friend invited me to lunch. “Have you ever eaten a burger at The Thirsty Parrot?” was all he had to ask. I was all in for the thirty minute road trip from Katy to Monaville to finally sample one of their burgers.
thirsty-parrot-menu-bWhen we arrived we met a friend, a Vietnam veteran who farms near Monaville. Love our veterans. I ordered my usual cheeseburger, a side of fries, and a tall glass of iced tea and then waited with anticipation. My friends and I were deep in conversation when our food arrived. Time to stop talking and start eating.
thirsty-parrot-burgerOk — so one bite and I knew immediately that this was one of the best burgers I have tasted since I started my search for the best burgers in Texas. Holy smoke it was absolutely delicious. The meat was cooked to perfection. The bread was moist and the veggies crispy. Even the fries were delicious.
thirsty-parot-interiorMy only regret was that I had waited so long to make the short trip from Katy to Monaville to eat at The Thirsty Parrot. Not only was my burger amazing, the service was good, the place was clean, and the conversation was great. Rarely do I put a burger joint or eatery on my list of places to visit a second time, but this place made it to the top of that list.

If you find yourself anywhere near Monaville at lunchtime, you owe it to yourself to stop by The Thirsty Parrot to try one of their delicious burgers. Don’t let the motorcycles spook you. This is a good place to grab a bite of lunch that you won’t soon forget.
thirsty-parrot-menu-aI have learned that you’ll find the best burgers in the Lone Star State in the most unlikely places. So, drive past the fast food eateries and discover an interesting burger joint near you. And please don’t wait as long as I did to discover a great placed to eat — like The Thirsty Parrot.

Dan’s Hamburgers in Austin

Avoiding fast-food burgers is high on my list of Texas road-trips do’s and dont’s. I mean, really! Since you are going to eat anyway, why not be a little more adventurous than pulling into a fast-food factory. With a smart phone in hand it has become easier than ever before to find off-the-beaten-path places to enjoy a good meal — especially a burger.
dans-hamburgersOn a recent road trip, my wife and I made it to Austin just in time for lunch. As we approached the capital city, we consulted Yelp for a list of burger joints along our route and decided to stop at Dan’s Hamburgers. The joint had a consistent four-star rating with great reviews. So, we headed to Dan’s to try one of their made-to-order burgers.

Dan’s Hamburgers was founded by Dan Junk and his wife Frances in January 1973, Prior to opening their first restaurant, Dan had honed his burger-making skills while working at another local burger joint. The first Dan’s Hamburger joint had a simple menu: a large or small burger plus fries. Dan later purchased a recipe for hand-breaded onion rings for fifty bucks — a really wise choice.

The location we visited was pretty busy. Lots of folks in the restaurant and lots of folks waiting for take-out orders. That was a good sign! I ordered a cheeseburger with a side of their hand-breaded onion rings along with a tall glass of iced tea. And then I waited anxiously for my burger.
dans-hamburgers-wholeThe burger looked and smelled great. As always, I cut it in two to look at how it was put together but also to make it easier to eat. The meat was moist and cooked to perfection. Dan’s uses only certified Angus chuck. The folks in the kitchen also prepare their lettuce, tomatoes, and onions in-house. No pre-packaged stuff.
dans-hamburgers-profileFirst bite was oh so good. As for the onion rings — a delicious testimony to Dan’s wise purchase of the hand-breaded onion ring recipe for fifty bucks. Way to go, Dan. Everything about this burger worked. Absolutely delicious! While Dan’s menu has grown significantly over the years, they have remained grounded to the thing that put them on Austin’s culinary map — the hamburger.

If you find yourself anywhere near Austin at lunchtime, make it a point to visit one of Dan’s Hamburgers locations. You won’t spend much more than you would have spent at a fast-food joint and you’ll definitely get a lot more value for your buck.

Bill’s Burgers Wings and Things

Nestled in the heart of the Texas Hill Country is the city of Burnet — the bluebonnet capital of Texas. Burnet is not a newcomer on the Texas map. The origins of the town date back to the mid-1800’s. The town was established in the shadows of Fort Croghan, a post established by the US government to protect settlers from Indians along the Texas frontier.
Burnet TexasOn a recent road trip through the Texas Hill Country, my wife and I arrived in Burnet just in time for lunch. Hungry for a burger, we asked the manager at our hotel for his recommendation. He told us that Burnet actually had two amazing burger joints, both of which just happened to be featured on the front page of that day’s newspaper.
Bill's BurgersAfter reading the news article we decided to head over to Bill’s Burgers Wings and Things, the local joint that had made the Texas Monthly top burger list. The restaurant is housed in a modest little building with ample parking. The first thing I noticed when we walked in was the huge menu displayed on the wall. So many great options, but I zeroed in on my favorite — the bacon cheddar burger with a side of onion rings and a cold glass of iced tea.
Bill's Burgers MenuMy burger arrived in a paper boat along with a jumble of some of the best-looking hand-dipped onion rings I’ve seen in a while. Everything looked absolutely scrumptious (a reader challenged me to use this word in my next review, so here you go). As always, I cut my burger in half to look at the strata (as if I were some kind of burger geologist). The moist hand pressed hamburger patty and fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles did indeed look scrumptious!
Bill's Burger Split ViewThe first bite generally tells it all for me. And this first bite did not disappoint. Wow! Moist and perfectly seasoned, this burger immediately impressed me. I told my wife that I would drive back to Burnet just to do this all over again. As for the onion rings, there are no words. Cheryl told me that these were the best onion rings she has ever tasted. I have to agree. They were oh so delicious.
Bill's Onion RingsBottom line: this burger definitely ranks among the top burgers I have eaten on my burger adventures in the Lone Star State — and I’ve tasted a lot of great burgers on my road trips. The onion rings are also at the top of my list. It’s experiences like these that have convinced me that eating a fast-food burger is not the best use of a buck. If you’re going to spend the money anyway, then look for a burger joint like Bill’s. You will certainly get more bang for your buck.