JULIE SOEFER PHOTOGRAPHY
Food & Drink

The Very Best Burgers in Houston

Updated On 04/19/2017 at 05:42PM EST

The Detention

Bernie’s Burger Bus

Address and Info

Bellaire (& Katy)

These burgers -- made with Black Angus beef ground daily -- are worth the late slip to work. You can’t go wrong with anything in the lineup, but get the Detention if you’re feeling anything like that bully who used to give you wedgies in third grade. That’s two beastly patties smothered with cheddar, bourbon-glazed “tipsy” onions, and all the fixins. Oh, and all of that is stuffed between made-from-scratch buns fashioned out of bacon grilled cheeses. Obviously.

Kevin Alexander/Thrillist

The Hubcap Decker

Hubcap Grill

Address and Info

Heights (& Downtown & Kemah)

Burger purists can definitely get behind Hubcap’s hand-formed, crisp-seared patties that sit pretty between buns made specifically to withstand the inevitable drips of grease. They are near-perfect as is, but to double the pleasure (and the fun), we suggest going with a twice-the-beef, twice-the-cheese monstrosity. The decker gets stacked in true decker style, with a slice of crisp bread, special mayo, and lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles layered throughout.

The Cease & Desist Burger

The Hay Merchant

Address and Info

Montrose

This burger is so ridiculously good, it’s almost criminal. No, but really, it’s actually kinda criminal. When Underbelly started serving a "UB Double Double", the resto was served a cease & desist letter courtesy of In-N-Out. A quick name change later, this double-cheese, double-beef burger, now found full time at The Hay Merchant, is as juicy and legally delicious as ever. That’s because the beef is ground fresh straight from UB’s in-house butchery. With LTO and house pickles, we’d choose this guy over the one from a certain uptight chain every time.

Phaedra Cook/Thrillist

Original Bacon Cheeseburger

Stanton's City Bites

Address and Info

Heights

For a damn fine burger with a little side of nostalgia, hit this neighborhood champion of all things beef. The family-run grocer has obviously been doing something right, because it's been keeping Houstonians well-fed since the '60s. While you can go full throttle by loading your loosely packed, properly crusted patties with stacks of candied bacon and hash browns, you should really start by getting a taste of the burger that started it all.

The Rancor

Petrol Station

Address and Info

Garden Oaks/Oak Forest

Like the reptilian Star Wars beast for which it's named, this 10-napkin burger’s only desire is to FEED... feed you, that is. Made with half a pound of aggressively seasoned Angus, this beef-bomb is crowned simply with cheddar, smoked bacon, and a fried egg, because in today's crazy world, that is simple. Take the Rancor down alongside one of the city’s more impressive lineups of craft brew.

Kevin Alexander/Thrillist

Cheese Burger

Tookie's Hamburgers & More

Address and Info

Seabrook

Our burger expert, the venerable Kevin Alexander, ran around Houston eating a bunch of classic cheeseburgers in order to find the best of the best. Well, he didn’t actually run, because the thought of doing that and eating nine burgers makes us physically ill, but you get the point. In the end, he crowned the long-running bayside burger institution’s perfectly thin, peppery crusted & smashed patties the winner. The burger is best enjoyed out on a picnic table next to bikers and old dudes in Tommy Bahama shirts.

The Grim Burger

Lankford Grocery & Market

Address and Info

Montrose

Trying to destroy your diet? Look no further than this insanely bad-for-you, but oh-so-worth-it beef bomb. We’ll lay it out for you: one mouthwatering beef patty; a pile of crisp, fatty bacon; some sliced jalapeños; an oozing fried egg, and a mountain (not a Hound) of macaroni and cheese. Bring cash and make sure that roll of paper towels is full before you sit down.

The Shack Burger Resort

Grease & Weasel

The Shack

Address and Info

Cypress

Since they’re fresh-formed, expertly seasoned, and locally sourced, allllll the burgers at this meat resort have that Texas beef swag (even when smothered with mac & cheese). Get what you please, but if you want to go balls-to-the-wall, the Grease & Weasel is the way to go. Why? Because the half-pounder with seriously thick bacon and melty cheddar cheese comes sandwiched between two griddled honey buns. Since you’re obviously watching your weight, you’ll also want some pickle chips on the side.

Kimberly Park/Killen’s Burgers

SPICY!!! Burger

Kuma Burgers

Address and Info

Greenway/Upper Kirby

Despite its hidden location (hint: It’s inside the Greenway Plaza food court), Kuma Burger is a city-wide favorite. The fresh, umami-packed burgers are pure pleasure thanks to a crisp griddle and schmear of soy and shiitake sauce. Take things to the next level by going SPICY!!!, which means your burger will be made with three kinds of jalapeño, house sambal mayo, pepper jack cheese, and soy-marinated serrano chiles, plus additional add-ons like bacon and egg because this is Texas and we like gluttony.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar (Houston)

Cheeseburger

Killen's Burgers

Address and Info

Pearland

Smashed 10oz all-natural chuck and brisket patties are cooked to a just-pink center (unless you request otherwise) at this newly opened burger joint from the king of all things beef, chef Ronnie Killen. The beautifully salted, aggressively seared burgers don’t need much more than American cheese, crisp lettuce, dill pickles, and off-the-vine tomatoes. What they do need, though, is a side of JJ Watt-approved fried cheese curds and impeccable house-cut fries.

Jake Toler

Terlingua

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Address and Info

River Oaks

Because when an all-star burger shop moves in from Austin and offers all-natural burgers topped with all the adornments of a Frito pie, you get it. Such is the case with the Terlingua -- an Angus beef bomb smothered with chile con carne, cheddar, Fritos, and “sassy sauce,” which is a mind-numbingly good combo of mayo, mustard, and horseradish that sings alongside all that beef. You may need to get this one during off hours, because the burger bar is known to draw a crowd.

Lockhart Link Burger

Shake Shack

Address and Info

Galleria

This NYC import’s classic cheeseburgers are damn near perfect as is. But this is Houston, where everything is legitimately bigger, and therefore, better. Take the Texas-exclusive Lockhart Link Burger, which is ostensibly a Shack Burger topped with pickles and an entire griddled jalapeño cheese sausage link from the indelible Kreuz Market.

Jamie Smith

The Ritual Burger

Ritual

Address and Info

Heights

When one of a restaurant’s operating partners is a successful restaurateur with concepts spanning the city (Ken Bridge of Delicious Concepts), chances are said restaurant is going to be a hit. When the other partner (Felix Florez of Black Hill Meats) has his own ranching operation that supplies the country’s finest chefs with humanely raised meats, things get even more exciting. Tack on the fact that the restaurant reps an in-house dry-aging locker and masterful butchery program and you end up with not only a damn good restaurant, but a damn good namesake burger. The 1/2lb Ritual Burger gets the deluxe treatment with a bone marrow glaze, a big ol’ pile of smoked brisket, velvety Deep Ellum blue cheese fondue, and caramelized pit onions. Order it medium rare and don’t forget to break out the napkins.

Adovada Burger

Kitchen 713

Address and Info

The Heights

With new digs and a much-welcomed liquor license, Kitchen 713 is a way hotter iteration of its former self. With the upgrade comes some brand new burgers, made sloppy with 8oz of Angus, white Cheddar, and slaw. The pièce de résistance is, of course, the hunks of tender and succulent green chili pork generously piled on top. The burger is available during lunch hours only, so come prepared for a late-afternoon nap.

Julie Soefer

Jimmy’s “Texas Red” Beef Chili Cheeseburger

State Fare

Address and Info

Memorial

If there was ever a time to knife and fork a burger, it’s now. This chili cheeseburger at State Fare might be a colossal mess, but it’s worth every bit of necessary cleanup. Ancho and pasilla chiles bring life to the earthy Texas red -- no tomato or beans, here, just a slow-burn from the chili paste, aromatics, and hand-cut chuck beef. A healthy glug of hatch chile queso blanco, some extra shredded Cheddar, and crispy fried jalapeño strips make you almost forget there’s an 80/20 Akaushi burger providing the base. Almost.

The Burger

Bacon Bros. Public House

Address and Info

Sugar Land

Perhaps throwing bacon atop a burger patty is enough to keep you happy, but maybe it’s time to rethink that because at this porcine palace, bacon makes its way inside the patty, changing your burger notions forever. Here, house-cured swine gets ground and mixed with brisket and chuck, forming a patty that’s luscious, porky, and beefy all at once. The juice-dripper is finished simply with American cheese, house-made pickles, and the Bacon Bros. special burger sauce. Get that.

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Houston's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
H ouston’s had a rough year. But that’s not to say we haven’t banded together and shown the world what it means to be #HoustonStrong AND brought home our first World Series title in the process -- shout-out to Altuve! And while we’ve fared through the hardships, there were plenty of phenomenal things happening in background, especially in the culinary world. More specifically, the return of an old favorite, a hot concept from a Top Chef, and one restaurant that will be changing faces every year. Here are the Houston hot spots you’ll want to be eating at going into 2018.
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Field & Tides

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Gulf Coast fare paired with delicious cocktails and a yard to hang in
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Aqui

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A Top Chef alum brings reenergized Asian food to Houston
Top Chef and JBA winner Paul Qui’s first Houston project arrived to quite a buzz this summer, for good reason. Though the striking roof and high-ceilinged space gives off a bare yet tranquil vibe, the food is anything but, with bold, bright flavors dreamed up by Qui and chef de cuisine Gabriel Medina (a hometown hero known for stints at Kata Robata and Soma Sushi). Travel to Southeast Asia via kamayan or “hand-to-mouth” bites like the Singapore hot chili crab and fried bao. Order yourself a few “perfect bites” -- literally bite-sized puffs, cakes, dumplings, and toasts made for one, and/or bring some friends to share tom yam noodles, grilled octopus adobo, and the star of the evening: a succulent, crispy skin lechón served with Filipino pork liver sauce.

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Killen's STQ

Galleria

A meats expert adds seafood to the lineup and will make you re-think that steak
Smoke and steak combine at this relaxed space from acclaimed local chef Ronnie Killen, which took over the former Bramble space near the end of 2016. Earlier this year, Killen tapped Graham Laborde (previously of Bernadine’s) as operations chef for all Killen’s restaurants, which added some serious seafood savvy to the barbecue and steak focused kitchen. Book your reservations in advance and gear up for a meal that will no doubt loosen your belt a few notches... but you know, in a classy way. We’re talking pecan-smoked pork belly glistening in habanero-cherry sauce; Creole shrimp over grits cake; the choicest wood-fired rib-eye and NY strip; and the pièce de résistance, a silky/smoky bacon tres leches bread pudding.

Kitchen 713

Washington

A reopened soul food joint is back and better than ever
Once a tiny, bare bones restaurant housed in EaDo, Kitchen 713 closed in 2016 to find new digs (and get a liquor license). At the turn of the year, it emerged bigger, better (it got that license), and somehow, even more satisfying. It’s all about pure, unadulterated soul food, here... though you’ll find way more than just one the city’s best takes on shrimp & grits. Chef and co-owners Ross Coleman and James Haywood take inspiration from around the globe, bringing their take on soul food to the highest level. Dig in to fiery and smoky Caribbean jerk ribs, catfish tikka masala that’s at once light and rich, and a stupendous New York strip. Also, since this is the South, weekend brunch means fried chicken, mac & cheese, and biscuits, obviously.

Julie Soefer Photography

One Fifth Houston

Montrose

For five years, this restaurant will change its concept every year. Go now.
From Underbelly chef-owner and champion of all things Houston, Chris Shepherd, this concept is literally changing up its game once a year for five years. First up was One Fifth Steak, which gained fans aplenty under the careful direction of the incredibly talented chef de cuisine Nick Fine. Now, Shepherd, Fine and Co. have turned their attentions toward love languages and the cuisines that represent them. One Fifth Romance pleases with dishes that can probably make anyone fall in love -- mussels escabeche, duck heart Bolognese, truffle chicken roulade, and orange-anise croquembouche. Just don’t forget to make your reservations now, as the tides will turn once again in August and September.

Ohn Korean Eatery

Chinatown

An Asiatown legend opens the neighborhood’s hottest new spot
Mike Tran has quietly been taking over Asiatown, winning over locals with favorites like Mein, Tiger Den, and the newly revamped Night Market. The same attention has been paid to what just may be his coolest venture, Ohn. This time, a clubby K-Town vibe adds sex appeal, while the kitchen dishes out shareable plates that are downright addicting as hell. Sip late-night soju straight from a watermelon keg and complement it with kimchi fried rice, jeyuk bokkeum (spicy pork stir-fry), sweet and hot twice-fried Korean chicken, and corn cheese -- a cheesy riff on creamed corn that is an absolute must for the table.

Jennifer Caswell

Oxbow 7

Downtown

Elevated bayou food in an unexpected location
Gulf Coast chef Bryan Caswell already had seafood (Reef), barbecue (Jackson Street BBQ), and Tex-Mex (El Real) under his restaurant umbrella. And now, along with his wife, Jennifer, he has a modern concept in Downtown’s Le Meridian -- one that vows to change what you think you know about bayou fare. Refined techniques and touches enhance what the kitchen describes as “elevated bayou cuisine” -- East Texas caviar service with house potato chips, creme fraiche and ghost pepper caviar; crispy duck egg with duck confit and basil oil; and even Caswell’s take on bun rieu, a traditional Vietnamese crab stew that gets poured tableside. Aside from elevated small plates, the restaurant also plays to the hotel crowd with double cheeseburgers and build-your-own breakfasts.

Potente

Potente

Downtown

The only Italian steakhouse you’ll need to know in Houston
With a piping hot location across from Minute Maid Park, this highly-anticipated concept from Astros owner Jim Crane hit a grand slam (!) when it nabbed chef Danny Trace (of Brennan’s fame) to helm the kitchen this spring. Potente oozes sophistication, with a dark and luxe interior that evokes a modern villa, top-notch service and superb wines, and high-end Italian steakhouse fare that pays respect to local ingredients. Dine on a beautiful branzino hit with burgundy grapes and romanesco; impossibly silky burrata caprese, dressed up with things like confit cherry tomato and smoked sea salt; and cacio e pepe upped with black truffles shaved tableside.

Mark C Austin

Riel

Montrose

Southern food from a Canadian chef and a constantly changing menu
All hail Manitoba-born chef Ryan Lachaine (Underbelly, Reef), who fires off worldly dishes straight from Riel’s showstopping open kitchen. Said dishes offer some familiar tastes from our French Canadian neighbors, like the artful Montreal smoked meat and rye, and sticky toffee pudding with foie gras torchon. That said, the ever-changing menu is just as likely to feature influences from Houston’s culinary melting pot, from Vietnamese fried oysters and Gulf redfish karaage (with its tail intact), to a beautiful corn gnocchi dusted with cilantro, lime, and cotija fondue.

Jenn Duncan Photography

Theodore Rex

Warehouse District

Simple but spectacular plates with a menu that will change due to chef’s “boredom”
In a shock felt around the city, 2017 brought the closure of our beloved Oxheart, a year after chef Justin Yu won James Beard’s Best Chef Southwest for his highly revered veggie-centric tasting menu. But it wasn’t always Yu’s plans to be confined by tastings, so he shut down his spot inside the historic Erie City Iron Works building and re-birthed it entirely. With a new, playful look, new chef de cuisine (Jason White) and new a la carte menu, Theodore Rex sets the tone for a new kind of dining -- one that mesmerizes with simple plates of pan con tomate and farm potatoes dripped in chicken in the same way as it does with mains like collards-steamed grouper and Texas wagyu with fermented radish. Note: The menu will change often due to “availability, quality, and boredom,” so come expecting the unexpected.

Xochi

Xochi

Downtown

A hometown hero is dishing out Oaxacan cuisine after winning his first James Beard award
With a James Beard Award under his belt, chef Hugo Ortega is storming out of the gates. That’s thanks in part to the deserving chef’s latest concept, the sleek Oaxacan paradise set on the ground level of the gorgeous Marriott Marquis (the one with the Texas-shaped lazy river). Equally as gorgeous are Xochi’s impeccably composed plates -- a showstopping labyrinth of moles, from the deep and earthy to the smooth and mellow; house-made masa preparations showcasing endless varieties of corn and topped off with wood-roasted octopus, roasted pork rib, and chorizo ismeño, and impossibly good homemade chocolate desserts from Hugo’s pastry chef (and brother), Ruben. Drinks come from the masterful Sean Beck, who’s built a thoughtful library of agave-focused cocktails and interesting wines to pair with it all.

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Yauatcha

Galleria

Upscale dim sum that’ll have you prying your friends off the couch every Sunday
It’s fitting that this Michelin-starred London import is housed in the Galleria’s luxury "jewel box" building. Every plate coming out of the kitchen is a gem, both in a breathtaking, aesthetic way and a more figurative “give me that now!” way. This is not your typical Chinese dim sum teahouse -- Yauatcha offers a more contemporary tasting experience, and although that comes with an uptick in price, we’re guessing you’ll find shelling out the extra cash totally acceptable. Bring friends and sip tea while ogling over the restaurant’s delicate and artful preparations, from crispy duck rolls and scallop shui mai with tobiko caviar, to seasonal chocolates and patisserie.

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