The 16 Best Burger Joints in Houston

Where’s the beef?

Good Vibes Burgers & Brews
Good Vibes Burgers & Brews | Photo by Fajar Hassan
Good Vibes Burgers & Brews | Photo by Fajar Hassan

We care about our burgers here in Houston. Remember that time we embarked on a full-on quest for the city’s best classic burgers? That was fun. It was, however, a few year’s back, and today’s explosive dining scene offers a whole mess of beefy contenders to keep an eye on, including old reliables and fresh-faced numbers alike. As such, we scoured the city to find the meatiest, cheesiest, and most gloriously greasy burgers to get acquainted (and reacquainted) with in 2021. Some are bare-bones perfection, others are more stacked than the 2017 ‘stros. Either way, it’s all delicious.

Burgers and good times get the island treatment at this 2021 newcomer from executive chef and owner Eric Nelson (formerly of Galveston’s Prime 13). The fun-loving joint took over the old King’s Biergarten space, rocking a serious lineup of made-to-order burgers alongside tropical cocktails and bites like shrimp-and-crab stuffed jalapenos and fried quail and pickles. Dig right on into the RC Ranch Wagyu Good Vibes Signature, with vibin’ sauce and a cheesy garlic bun; or go with the fancified Kraken (pictured above), which turn the tides with a cracked pepper crusted-patty, gooey onions, Muenster, mushrooms, and a dreamy peppercorn Cognac sauce.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order take-out via Toast.

Space Cowboy
Space Cowboy | Photo by Dylan Scardino

The revamped Heights House Hotel’s new trendsetting bar and lounge is a true unicorn, pairing island-style drinks with comfort fare dreamed up by one of Houston’s top chefs—that’d be Lyle Bento, the mastermind behind the too-short-lived Southern Goods and the beloved Underbelly—and a pool that you can dip in before or after you partake in some excellent food and drink (day passes for non-hotel guests start at $20). Which gets us to Bento’s Boom Boom Burger, a hearty endeavor featuring a double dose of cheesy patties, deeply caramelized onions, and “boom boom sauce,” a garlicky, sweet chili-spiked mayo. It comes with miso-kissed fries, and yeah, it tastes just as good as it sounds.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Catching a flight out of Hobby? Schedule in some extra time to take in this burger and beer hub, which opened its hangar doors right by the airport in the backend of 2020. It offers a sturdy roster of big, juicy beef bombs accompanied by housemade sauces like Bulldog sauce, a mashup of ketchup, mustard, mayo, and barbecue that dresses patties of all sorts like the no-nonsense house-ground chuck Straight Up burger as well as the more adventurous Notorious P.I.G., which cradles beef and bacon patties beneath a dollop of “super melty” beer cheese. Billionaire Tots act as the perfect companion, laced with goat cheese, smoked cheddar, truffle butter, even more bacon, and a sunny egg. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out and delivery via Toast.

FM Kitchen and Bar
FM Kitchen & Bar | Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

FM Kitchen and Bar

Multiple locations

Secret “shhh” sauce, a toasty potato bun, LTO, and a gorgeously griddled patty are all that’s needed to make this shack-style burger shine—that and a slab of good old-fashioned American cheese. The burger bar’s Montrose location just opened in June, and it’s brought with it house favorites like loaded tots, fried pickles, and shakes, plus features like late-night only food and drink specials (which that signature FM Burger is a part of, thankfully).
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable, order take-out via Toast (Shepherd, Montrose), and get delivery via DoorDash.

Hubcap Grill & Beer Yard

Multiple locations

Burger purists can definitely get behind Hubcap’s hand-formed, crisply seared patties, sitting pretty between buns made specifically to withstand the inevitable drips of grease. To double the pleasure, we suggest going with the twice-the-beef, twice-the-cheese monstrosity Hubcap Decker. It comes stacked club sandwich-style with a slice of crisp bread, special mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. Add a side double-fried fresh-cut fries or go HAM by ladeling on the chili and cheese.
How to book: Stop by for counter service, call your nearest location for take-out, or order delivery via DoorDash.

The Hay Merchant’s signature Cease & Desist burger is so ridiculously good, it’s almost criminal. No, but really, when Underbelly started serving its UB Double Double, the resto was promptly served a cease and desist letter courtesy of a certain California-based cult-favorite. 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. Keep an eye out for Underbelly Hospitality’s upcoming burger joint, Underbelly Burger, set to open inside the completely revamped Houston Farmers Market later this year.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order take-out via Toast, or get delivery via DoorDash.

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 fed and happy 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 with the burger that started it all: the Original Bacon Cheeseburger.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, call 713-227-4893 for take-out, or order delivery via DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Tookies

Kemah

A few years back, our resident burger expert ran around Houston eating a slew of classic cheeseburgers in order to find the best of the best. Well, he didn’t actually run, because the thought of doing that while wolfing down nine meat sandwiches makes us physically ill, but you get the point. In the end, he crowned this long-running bayside institution’s perfectly peppery, pristinely crusted, and beautifully smashed patty the winner. Enjoy yours crammed into a picnic table with bikers and old dudes in Tommy Bahama shirts (and if that’s not your bag, you can always order yours to go).
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or call 281-942-9334 for take-out.

Lankford's Grocery & Market
Lankford Grocery & Market | Flickr/Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Looking to sabotage that summer bod you’ve been working on? Simply snag one of the insanely bad-for-you but oh-so-worth-it beef joints from this wonderfully greasy lunch-only spot. Lankford opened as a grocery in 1939, and it’s been building a dedicated army of burger enthusiasts since the ‘70s. Fans of fiery infernos should opt for the scorching Firehouse Burger, which gets its mouth-numbing heat thanks to cayenne butter, jalapeños, and habanero sauce. Other varieties include a pimento cheese burger, an old-fashioned Patty Melt, and the over-the-top Grim Burger, oozing with mac and cheese and a sunny egg.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or call 713-522-9555 for take-out.

burger-chan

Greenway - Upper Kirby Area

Though this cult sensation shuttered its Greenway Plaza food court stand (don’t worry, it’s opening up a shiny new spot in the Galleria soon), you can still get your hands on its vigorously griddled, umami-packed burgers via the innovative Click Virtual Food Hall. Build your own single, double, or triple stack festooned with trimmings from pickled habanero and fried egg to house sambal aioli; or go for thoughtfully constructed numbers like the BC Tejano, with pickled jalapeno, bacon, avocado, and queso rancho. And don’t make the mistake of forgetting the tots.
How to book: Order take-out or delivery via Toast.

It might hail from Austin, but this all-star’s all-natural lineup has won the hearts of Houstonians the city over. Go traditionalist with The Classic, dressed simply with the usual suspects (AKA LTO) and sassy sauce, a mind-blowingly good combo of mayo, mustard, and horseradish that kicks that beef into gear. Or try house favorites like the Goodnight/Good Cause, which comes with jalapeños, caffeinated BBQ sauce, and a side of good vibes via a donation to a local charity, or the Impossible, a burger so good you’ll forget it’s meat-free. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order take-out online, or get delivery via DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub.

The Burger Joint
The Burger Joint | Photo by Becca Wright

The Burger Joint

Multiple locations

Now with two locations, this local patty-flipper sports hand-crafted 44 Farms burgers that perch plump and pretty atop soft, squishy buns. You can get ‘em any which way, satisfying your cravings with a bacon- and onion ring-topped BBQ burger; the jalapeno-, avocado-, and queso fresco-adorned Mexi; the Kimchi burger layered with fried egg and cheddar; or the pulled pork-, slaw-, and mac and cheese-smothered Smoke Stack. The Classic is plenty good, too.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order take-out via Toast for pickup, or get delivery via DoorDash and Uber Eats.

From the smoke savants behind Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue comes a new venture where burgers are the star. Whether you live up North or not, you’ll want to get your hands on Tejas’ signature smoked burgers, which get an aggressive salt-and-pepper treatment before taking a turn in the wood smoker then landing on a buttery potato bun. Order the half-pound Smokehouse Burger, where flavor-forward Angus beef gets an extra shot of love courtesy of smoked cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions, and green onion aioli.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out and delivery online.

Squable

Heights

If you prefer your beef fancy, we cannot stress enough how much you need Squable’s French cheeseburger in your life. A medium-rare stout beef patty sits centerstage, absolutely smothered in a cascade of raclette cheese and finished with a smattering of maître d' butter, chopped cornichons, a soft and griddled pain de mie bun, and a side of perfectly crisp frites, to boot. At brunch, the dreamy creation ramps it up a notch with lardons, an egg, and dijonaise.
How to book: Reserve via Resy or order take-out via Toast.

We Houstonians don’t like many things that have to do with Dallas very much (just kidding… kinda), but we definitely do like this Big D-by-way-of-Fort Worth import. The burger hotshot’s house-ground patties come in the form of beef, chicken, turkey, and Impossible, with selections ranging from the no-joke fiery Hot Bastard and the sugary-sweet candied bacon- and grilled peach-topped Sugar Burger to the (281) 330-8004, a tribute to Houston rapper Mike Jones made with gooey gruyere, garlic-roasted creminis, and a soy caramel glaze.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order take-out online, or get delivery via DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Flip N’ Patties

Multiple locations

Now with dual locations, this local gem hawks Filipino fare alongside Akaushi burgers that shine atop squishy siopao buns. Go nuts with the Puet, which adds Pecan-smoked pork butt, provolone, and house tang sauce to the mix, or up the protein with the Jeepney, hit with longganisa (Filipino sausage), fried egg, and banana ketchup aioli. The gravy fries are a sure-fire hit, as well.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order online for take-out (Downtown, Eldridge).

Brooke Viggiano is a contributor for Thrillist.
Our Newsletter
Become a Local Insider in Houston
Get our expert guides to your new favorite city.
By Signing Up, I Agree to the Terms and Privacy Policy.