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.

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.

Padre Island Burger Company

No matter where you go in Texas, you are sure to find a burger joint nearby — not the fast food assembly line variety but one of those honest-to-goodness one-of-a-kind burger joints. On a recent trip to Corpus Christi, I made it a point to visit a burger joint on Padre Island, a place appropriately named Padre Island Burger Company.
Padre IslandPadre Island bears the distinction of being the world’s longest barrier island, stretching from Corpus Christi all the way to the southern tip of Texas. Padre Island Burger Company is comfortably nestled in what looks like a beach shack near the intersection of Park Road 22 and the road that leads to Mustang Island State Park.
Padre Island Burger CompanyThe Burger Company offers a variety of custom burgers with names like First Date, the Hangover, and the Chronic. With names like these you can’t go wrong. The burgers are made with a half-pound of ground chuck served on a delicious buttered and toasted sourdough bun. The other ingredients are up to you. I ordered a cheeseburger with corn-cob smoked bacon and a side of onion rings.
IMG_9180My kids and nephews each ordered different custom burgers — some with mushrooms, fried eggs, a Dr. Pepper based bar-b-cue sauce, and other great tasting ingredients. We all bit into our respective burgers at the same time and came to the same conclusion. These were some mighty delicious burgers. I firmly believe that a bun can either make or break a burger. We all agreed that the sourdough buns were amazing.
Padre Island Burger Company BurgerAs for the sides of onion rings and sweet potato fries, these were also really tasty. Add to that the cool vibe of the joint and we had ourselves one enjoyable dining experience. I’m glad we stopped to eat at Padre Island Burger Company. Definitely one of the better burgers I have eaten in the Lone Star State. If you are on the hunt for a great burger and find yourself anywhere near Padre Island, then you owe it to yourself to check out Padre Island Burger Company. You’ll be glad you did!

Billy Bob’s Hamburgers

The folks who call Hondo home are convinced they live smack-dab in the middle of God’s Country. They love their little slice of heaven and frown upon any who drive through town like the devil. Thus their unusual Welcome sign that has cautioned motorists since 1930: “This is God’s Country. Please don’t drive through it like hell.” And they mean it!
Billy Bob's HamburgersThe Hondo Welcome sign is likely the most photographed site in town and the catalyst for many a conversation among folks passing through town. There is, however, something else to talk about when it comes to Hondo, and that is Billy Bob’s Hamburgers — a local burger joint that has been serving up some of the tastiest burgers in Medina County since 1990.
Billy Bob's InteriorSome friends and I decided to give Billy Bob’s a try on our way back to Katy from a week of adventuring on the Devils River. To say we were hungry would be an understatement. We had burned enough calories to justify eating any burger on the menu. And there are quite few offerings on Billy Bob’s menu.
Billy Bob's Menu
One of my buddies and I decided to order the Giant Heart Attack burger with two sides of beer-battered onion rings and a tall glass of tea. This enormous burger boasts one pound of meat, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, mayo, mustard, and ketchup. When the burger arrived at our table I could understand how it got its name. This thing was huge!
Billy Bob's Giant Heart AttackKnowing this would be a big burger, I asked to have it cut in half. There is something beautiful about cutting a big old burger in half and appreciating the layers of goodness — kind of like a geologist looking at the strata of a west Texas hillside. Four layers of meat, all the fixings, and a moist bun. This was burger geology at its best.
Billy Bob's Burger in HandAs for the first bite — amazing! Billy Bob’s lived up to its “nothin’ but excellent” motto. This was one exceptionally good burger. The onion rings were also delicious, a good balance of crispness covering perfectly moist onions on the inside. The entire meal was satisfying. Billy Bob’s has certainly earned a top ranking on my list of great burgers in the Lone Star State.
Billy Bob's CounterIf you love a good burger, look beyond the fast food joints to discover places like Billy Bob’s. We are fortunate to have so many places to eat great burgers in Texas. Life is too short to waste our lunch hours eating at fast food chains. I prefer the better and more adventurous options of eating at places like Billy Bob’s. And, honestly, I think you will, too.

Dog and Pony Grill

Searching for the best burgers in Texas is an enjoyable part of my adventuring in the Lone Star State. I have discovered that there are no shortages of places to find delicious burgers. I have visited some burger joints at the recommendation of friends, others because I read about them in some publication, and occasionally I just ask Siri to find me burger joints close to me as I wander down highways and byways.
Dog and Pony ExteriorWhile recently traveling from Katy to Big Bend Ranch State Park, I asked Siri to find me burger joints near San Antonio. Siri produced her usual list of fast food burger places as well as other options. That’s how I learned about the Dog and Pony Grill in Boerne. To be honest, my buddy and I decided to try this place just because we found the name so interesting. Google maps did the rest of the work and guided us to the parking lot.
Dog and Pony InteriorWe arrived a bit early for lunch but with enough of an appetite to eat a healthy-sized burger. At the recommendation of the young lady at the counter, I ordered the Bodacious Boerne Cheddar Burger, listed as “Our Favorite Burger” on the menu. This burger comes with a healthy one-third pound of pure beef and is topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, mustard and mayo. A side order of onion rings and a cold cup of sweet tea completed my order.

When I started writing about burgers on my blog I decided that if I did not have anything good to say about a burger I just would not write about it. So, I am writing about the Bodacious Boerne Cheddar Burger because it definitely outclassed a lot of burgers I have eaten and because it was pretty doggone tasty. Wow! I mean it was a really good burger.
Dog and Pony BurgerEverything about his burger worked well, from the amazing bun to the delicious cooked-to-perfection patty. And the onion rings were pretty good, too. After taking my last bite, I took a deep satisfying breath and determined that this is a place I want to visit again. And it’s a place I highly recommend to anyone passing through the area. In fact, it’s worth taking a detour to go to the Dog and Pony Grill if you are anywhere near this part of the state.
Dog and Pony Grill VanThe Dog and Pony Grill offers a lot more than their tasty burgers on their menu. The joint has a cool and comfortable vibe — the kind of place where you can have a good time with family and friends. The next time you find yourself near Boerne, set your map app to get you to the Dog and Pony in time for lunch. You won’t be disappointed!

Marco’s Burgers and Fries

Every road trip is an opportunity for me to continue my search for the best burgers in the Lone Star State. That means I stop and eat at a lot of burger joints. And just about the time I think that I can’t possibly find a better burger, it happens. I find a better burger!
IMG_8398On a recent road trip to the Rio Grande Valley, I visited Marco’s Burgers and Fries in my hometown of Mission. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made on my burger quest. Lots of places serve varieties of burgers distinguished by creative combinations of this or that added to a burger. Marco’s Burgers, however, takes the burger experience beyond the ordinary.
Marco's Burgers FlyerMarco Suarez, the owner of Marco’s Burgers, has done more than just add stuff to the basic buns and meat that make up a burger. Marco went to the heart of the matter — the meat! He figured that if you want to make a better burger you have to get the meat right. So, Marco decided to take ribeye and grind it daily. He offers his customers mouth-watering burger patties made of 100% fresh ground ribeye with nothing added to the meat.
Marco's MenuWhen I arrived at Marco’s Burgers located at 2507 East Griffin Parkway between Mission and McAllen, the first thing I noticed was how clean the place was. The young lady behind the counter offered a welcoming greeting and took the time to explain the various options on the menu. I am partial to bacon cheeseburgers so that is what I ordered, along with a side of onion rings and sweet tea.
Marco's Burger in HandMy first bite confirmed what I had hoped — that this was going to be one delicious burger. And, indeed it was. Adding bacon and cheese or anything else to a burger is ok. But the ground ribeye meat made everything about this burger stand out. The meat was lean, moist, full of flavor, and cooked to perfection. This burger puts to shame any burger made with a hockey puck patty pulled out of the freezer and tossed on a grill.
Marco's Sweet Potato FriesIn addition to onion rings, I sampled the sweet potato fries and regular cut fries. Both were delicious but I believe that I will order sweet potato fries on my next visit. These were really tasty. And, I have already made up my mind to go beyond my normal bacon cheeseburger on my next visit. Marco’s offers several tempting combinations of their ground ribeye burgers.
Marco's Burger CounterI visited another highly-rated burger joint in the Valley on this road trip. But, I have to say that I found that experience somewhat disappointing and have placed that burger on my list of places I will not blog about. Thankfully, Marco’s Burgers and Fries redeemed this road trip in regard to my search for a memorable burger experience. It’s no wonder that Marco’s Burgers was awarded Best Burgers in Texas on the Fall 2013 season of The Texas Bucket List.
Marco's Burgers ExteriorIf you happen to live in South Texas or just wander in that direction, I hope you will take the time to visit Marco’s Burgers and Fries. I am confident that you will come away more than satisfied by this burger that gets it right in every category. Thank you Marco and staff for a delicious and memorable dining experience. I hope to return again the next time I am in the neighborhood.

Sparkle’s Hamburger Spot

A friend recently encouraged me to eat at Sparkle’s Hamburger Spot — a tiny burger joint with a big reputation for serving tasty burgers in Houston. Sparkle’s is located at the corner of Leeland and Dowling, just east of Houston’s historic Eastwood neighborhood. Housed in a small building flanked by picnic tables and a shade tree, Sparkle’s has a very reasonably priced breakfast and lunch menu.
Sparkle's Hamburger SpotI ordered the bacon cheeseburger with a side order of onion rings at the walk-up window. The young lady who took my order was friendly and helpful. Everything at Sparkle’s is made-to-order, so the service is not fast. They wait until you place your order to start cooking. Once I placed my order, I joined the dozen other folks sitting around the picnic tables, patiently waiting to hear their number called. Those who had phoned in their orders did not have as long to wait.
Sparkle's Walk-Up WindowI have to confess that waiting was the hardest part because I was so hungry. When the gal at the window finally called out Number 74, she handed me my burger in a white styrofoam box. I settled into a comfortable seat at the picnic tables and opened the box. Inside I found a healthy burger swaddled in paper along with a generous portion of onion rings.
Sparkle's BurgerThe burger was big — at least a half-pound and inch-thick crumbly patty cooked to perfection and topped with a generous portion of cheese and bacon. The mustard and mayo slathered buns created the perfect embrace for the meat. When it comes to burgers, it generally doesn’t take more than one bite to conclude whether it’s good, bad, or downright nasty. One bite of this burger made every minute of the wait worth it all. Delicious, hearty, and flavor filled!
Sparkle's MenuIf you are looking for fancy, look elsewhere because there is nothing fancy about Sparkle’s. This place is about the food. They do burgers and they do them right! The folks on the other side of the walk-up window know what they are doing and they do it well. Sparkle’s has definitely earned its reputation as one of the best burger joints in their own neighborhood and beyond. And they have earned a spot on my own list of the best places to eat a burger in the Lone Star State.