I recently did the unthinkable in my quest to find the best bacon cheeseburger in Texas — I ordered a burger at a Mexican food restaurant. Yes, I was that guy. I have seen others do it and wondered what they were thinking. I mean, who orders a burger at a Mexican food joint.
I don’t know what possessed me but it was a spur of the moment decision. With Mexican food on the brain, when the waitress came to our table I blurted out that I wanted a hamburger, more specifically a bacon cheeseburger with fries.
Fortunately, this is one decision I would not regret.
Alicia’s Mexican Restaurant in Alpine has been around for a while. I had stopped at McCoy’s lumber earlier in the day to buy some supplies for our off-grid cabin in Big Bend. While there, I asked folks to recommend a good Mexican food restaurant. More than one person recommended Alicia’s so that settled the matter for me.
Alicia’s is housed in a modest-sized old building that has all the earmarks of a dive. Nothing fancy on the outside or inside but inviting nevertheless. One thing you don’t want to miss is the signage — scrawled out on white paper with a black marker — that alerts customers that this is a cash only (and local checks) establishment.
My bacon cheeseburger with an ample serving of home-cut fries arrived in a plastic paper-lined boat. At first glance I noticed that the meat was not a warmed-up frozen patty but rather hand pressed with ragged edges. The bacon was crispy, just the way I like it, and the cheese perfectly melted. The buns were moist and lightly toasted on what could only be a well-seasoned grill.
The first bite was amazing. The meat was seasoned to perfection. This burger had a symphony of flavors that worked in perfect harmony. Tasty does not even begin to describe the flavor. It was beyond that. This burger was absolutely delicious — the kind of delicious that moved the meter and convinced me that I would have to make this a regular stop on my treks to the cabin.
Alpine is somewhat off the beaten interstate path but if you are ever anywhere near this home of Sul Ross University, make it a point to head to Alicia’s. Just make sure you have cash in your wallet. If not, stop at an ATM because this burger is worth the eating.
Round Top, a popular tourist destination, is one of the smallest incorporated communities in the Lone Star State. This tiny town has a rich history influenced by English and German settlers. The family of Stephen Townsend was the first to settle in the area in 1826. This family bears the distinction of having sent more men to the Battle of San Jacinto than any other family.
Joel Robinson, a resident of Round Top, also fought in the Battle of San Jacinto. After the Texan army defeated the Mexican forces on the plains of San Jacinto on March 21, 1836, the Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna was nowhere to be found. Robinson was assigned to the small detachment of men who searched for and captured the defeated general on the day after the decisive battle.
In the 1840s, a German man named Alwin H. Soergel, settled in the Round Top area. This talented author, musician, and historian built a white house with an octagonal tower — giving rise to the name Round Top. Soergel’s home served as the United States Post Office for the tiny community as early as 1847.
Today, Round Top has a population of fewer than one-hundred residents. Even so, this tiny community draws visitors from around the world. Round Top is an internationally recognized cultural center for the arts with a 1,200-seat concert hall at Festival Hill, the permanent home of the Texas Festival Orchestra.
Round Top’s vintage downtown is also a tourist draw. Henkel Square features a variety of shops and galleries housed in restored structures originally built by English and German pioneers to the area. Of course, the heavy tourist traffic explains why there are so many historic bed-and-breakfasts in Round Top.
On my continuing search for delicious hamburgers in the Lone Star State, I visited Royers Round Top Café — “a Texas country bistro serving gourmet comfort food.” This café is famous for their delicious handmade pies, which have made their way to the White House. How cool is that! But, I visited Royers to sample their burger and then to chase it all down with a tall glass of iced tea and a slice of pecan pie.
I ordered the Café’s Burger — a handmade burger boasting a half-pound of local beef served with all the trimmings between a toasted sourdough bun with a side of hand-cut fries. All it took was the first bite to convince me this was one delicious burger. As for the pecan pie, I think it was made in heaven. No wonder folks come from all over the place to eat at Royer’s. Not only was the food great, the wait staff was very attentive and helpful.
If you have not yet visited Round Top, add it to your list. You’ll enjoy strolling through the various interesting shops with their eclectic wares. And, be sure to time things so that you can stop by Royers for lunch. It’s a popular place so you might have to wait for a few minutes on the front porch. But, don’t be impatient and drive off. This place is definitely well worth the wait.