Food & Drink

The Best Burgers in Houston

Published On 07/16/2014 Published On 07/16/2014
Best Burgers Houston
Becca Wright/The Burger Joint

We talk a lot about burgers here, because burgers are delicious, and we love them, and anyone who doesn’t just needs to go. We’ve uncovered the most underrated burgers, went on a quest for the city’s best classic burgers, sought out the best burgers by ‘hood, and even put together a 25-deep burger bucket list. But because the burgers never stop, we’re bringing you our current picks for the best burgers in the whole damn city. From diner-style griddled patties to modern monsters stacked between grilled cheese and honey buns, these are the best overall burgers you need to be focusing on right now.

Kimberly Park/Bernie’s Burger Bus

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.

Becca Wright/The Burger Joint

Fire burger

The Burger Joint

Address and Info

Montrose

Sometimes, all you need is perfectly griddled Angus beef, lettuce, onions, and cheese on a high-quality bun. Other times, you turn that regular cheese into pepper jack and add on serrano peppers, jalapeños, chipotle mayo, and fire sauce. This is one of those times. To combat all of that heat, you may want to also order an 8th Wonder Rocket Fuel beer float. Just sayin’.

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.

Julie Soefer Photography

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.

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.

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.

Hunky-Dory Tavern

HD Burger

Hunky Dory

Address and Info

Heights

Don’t be fooled by this tavern burger’s modest appearance, because it’s actually one of the juiciest, beefiest-tasting burgers in town. The magic is in Hunky Dory’s expertly seasoned blend of chuck, brisket, and don’t-knock-it-till-you-try-it beef tongue. A homemade bun, good ol’ American cheese, house pickles, and sliced red onion lend the double burger the appropriate finishing touch.

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.

SPICY!!! Burger

Kuma Burgers

Address and Info

Greenway/Upper Kirby

This NKOTB has already gained a cult following, despite its location inside a Greenway Plaza food court. The fresh-as-hell, umami-packed burgers are pure pleasure thanks to a crisp griddle and a slather of special soy and shiitake sauce. Take things to the next level by going SPICY!!!, meaning you’ll be adding three kinds of jalapeño, house sambal mayo, pepper jack cheese, and soy-marinated serrano chiles,. Then throw in customizables like bacon and egg, because this is Texas, and we like gluttony.

Kimberly Park/Killen’s Burgers

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.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar (Houston)

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.

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston writer who dreamed of burgers the entire time she was writing this. See what else she dreams about @BrookeViggiano.

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1. The Burger Joint 2703 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

Get ready to meet the burger of your dreams at this food truck turned brick-and-mortar spot in Montrose. The Burger Joint serves up juicy American cheese-topped patties on perfectly squishy potato rolls. While some things are best left classic, others are better with a little heat, like the house Fire Burger, topped with pepper jack cheese, Serrano peppers, jalapeños, chipotle mayo, and fire sauce. Make sure you order a draft root beer to wash that one down.

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2. Hubcap Grill 1133 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008 (The Greater Heights)

Hubcap Grill, which has a couple of locations across Texas, is known for its burgers and sandwiches. When faced with one of its incredibly juicy, crispy seared patties, the logical next step is to get another. The counter-serve also pours craft beer, which you order at the window before taking your food out to the massive, colorful patio. The space features games like ping pong and horseshoes so you can burn off all that grease to the tune of the outdoor jukebox.

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3. The Hay Merchant / Underbelly 1100 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

A joint venture, The Hay Merchant and Underbelly operate separately but are attached via a butchering room that’s fit to hold a whole hog, a cow, and other large, meat-bearing animals. Hay Merchant, a craft beer bar, boasts 75 draft beers that range in style from cask-conditioned American porters to sour and funky wild ales. Underbelly, the more upscale of the two, is a restaurant and wine bar serving up juicy burgers and meats, like roasted pig’s head and smoked brisket. No matter how adventurous your palate, consider pairing your dish with one of the aged barleywines on tap.

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4. Petrol Station 985 Wakefield Dr, Houston, TX 77018

Petrol Station used to be exactly that: a gas station. Now, this refurbished counter-service spot is dishing up of the tastiest burgers in Houston. You'll also find a fantastic craft beer list that's divided into beginner, intermediate, and expert levels. Once you've made your burger and beer picks (a favorite is The Rancor, a 10-napkin burger topped with cheddar, smoked bacon, and a fried egg), you can enjoy your meal out on the patio.

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5. Stanton's City Bites 1420 Edwards St, Houston, TX 77007 (The Greater Heights)

Serving Houstonians since 1961, Stanton's has an array of sandwiches, snacks, and sides that will, more often than not, stick to your sides. The former grocery store is especially known for its half-pound burgers topped with artery-clogging accouterments like deep-fried bacon, twice-fried onion rings, and house-fried pickles. The interior has a retro, almost cafeteria-like feel with plenty of tables and a counter for ordering.

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6. Hunky-Dory Tavern 1801 N Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77008 (The Greater Heights)

Built around a wood-fired hearth, this dark, sophisticated Heights restaurant serves British-American cuisine like black pudding, pork belly, and game pie in a romantic dining room. At the full-service bar, a shorter pub menu features steaks and chops along with a selection of wines and around a dozen specialty cocktails. Polished wood tables, classic white-rose centerpieces and low lighting makes Hunky-Dory the ultimate date spot -- just be sure to come hungry and ready to share because they don't fool around with portions here.

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7. Tookie’s Hamburgers & More 1202 Bayport Blvd, Seabrook, TX 77586

This green-and-gold institution had to shutter in 2008 after serious flood damage from Hurricane Ike, but it reemerged stronger than ever with more elbow room and a renovated kitchen to keep up with the burger-craving hordes in 2011. The vintage decor harks back to the restaurant's 1970s inception and fits with the menu of classic American food. The move here is to order the double cheeseburger, a side of Mama Ethel's oversize onion rings, and a Heath Bar milkshake.

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8. Lankford Grocery & Market 88 Dennis St, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

This Houston institution on Dennis St has been in business since 1939, selling groceries to locals alongside old-fashioned tuna melts and huge burgers. Everything is made to order, so the service takes time, and you simply pay at the counter when you're finished eating. The space itself is kitschy and quaint with shaded picnic tables outside for some greasy al fresco dining.

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9. The Shack 16602 Cypress Rosehill Rd, Cypress, TX 77429 (Cypress)

It's time loosen that belt a notch or two -- The Shack is a Houston favorite where the beef is fresh and local, and the burgers. Are. Stacked. Located in Cypress, this joint's got 18 signature beef burgers topped with everything imaginable from brisket to fried eggs to potato chips to spicy honey -- each creative combination provides the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, and savory, and the dropping grease is accompanied by just enough crunch. You're gonna need to make room if you're going to tackle one with a side of hand-cut fries or onion strings. You're also gonna need a beer -- there are dozens on tap from all over the Lone Star State.

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10. Kuma Burgers 3 Greenway Plz, Houston, TX 77046

Located inside a corporate office food court, this hidden gem in Greenway Plaza serves burgers and hot dogs with a range of homemade toppings. You'll also find a phenomenally traditional take on Texas chili. The lines may be long come lunch hour, but the burgers are well worth the wait.

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11. Killen's Burgers 2804 S Main St, Pearland, TX 77581

There’s no doubt chef Ronnie Killen was already “killen” it (sorry) with his steak & barbecue game, so it’s no surprise he’s ventured into the last of the holy trinity of Texas beef: burgers. The space is decked out with a 1950s-style diner vibe, complete with milkshakes and an old-fashioned soda fountain. In addition to the flattop-griddled cheeseburgers, you should also house a side of fried cheese curds and crinkle-cut fries, obviously.

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12. Hopdoddy Burger Bar 4444 Westheimer Rd Ste H100, Houston, TX 77027

This big & beefy Austin favorite has opened its doors in the River Oaks District in Houston. The burger bar offers a wide variety of burger choices made with locally sourced ingredients, plus a lineup of sides, salads, shakes, and a burger’s favorite companion, craft beer. If you want the burger professionals to take care of the decision making, consult their menu of burger creations for some awesome flavor combos.

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