With today’s Instagram mentality of "bigger is better" and "more bacon = more followers," it’s hard to find a simple, cheap burger these days. But some folks still stay true to the classics, with old-fashioned, juicy burgers at an honest price that you can feel good about because 1) you’re spending wisely and 2) you’re eating a burger, and that always feels good. We’ve scoured the lands for exactly that, and because Houston's burger options are so bountiful, and found a whopping 15 that fit the very cheap, $8-and-under bill.
Sparkle’s Hamburger SpotAddress and Info
People love this light blue burger shack on the eastside of Downtown for a reason, and that reason is old-school nostalgia. The thick, 1/2lb hunks of fresh ground beef are hit simply with salt and pepper, then pressed onto the griddle and cooked to a juicy medium-well before being delivered straight to your gut. Tack on tots for $2 bucks.
Jerry Built Homegrown BurgersAddress and Info
West U (& Woodlands & Memorial City)
With an emphasis on using humanely raised, all-natural beef and local ingredients, this burger stop pays a lot of attention to its product. Which can only mean you don’t have to pay any attention AT ALL when building your very own Jerry Built burger. To keep costs low, go with the house cheeseburger, grilled over an open flame and topped with American cheese, griddled onions, and Ernie’s sauce (a blend of mayo, ketchup, and relish); or up the ante by going for the bacon avocado burger for another 50 cents.
Killen's BurgersAddress and Info
Smashed 10oz all-natural chuck and brisket patties are cooked to a just-pink center (unless you request otherwise) at this burger joint, the latest hit the king of all things beef, Chef Ronnie Killen. The flawlessly seasoned, aggressively seared burgers don’t need much more than American cheese, crisp lettuce, dill pickles, and off-the-vine tomatoes. What they do need, however, is a side of JJ Watt-approved fried cheese curds and impeccable house-cut fries.
Stanton's City BitesAddress and Info
This retro institution has been serving Houstonians since 1961, when it started as a grocery store. Today, you’ll find loosely formed and properly crusted 1/2lb burgers sizzling alongside artery-clogging accouterments like deep-fried bacon, twice-fried onion rings, and house-fried pickles. But if you want to make it to your next birthday, you’ll do just as well going with the classic, served juicy and well-seasoned on a pillowy sesame bun.
Big Poppa Cheese Burger
Poppa BurgerAddress and Info
Face it: We can’t talk cheap burgers without mentioning this long-running roadside burger stand. Expect absolutely zero frills here, with a single meat patty with cheese starting at just $2.86, and additions like pickled jalapeños and bacon bringing you up to a steep $3.83. But it’s not just the price that is attractive, the stalwart is open 24/7 (even on Christmas). Just don’t forget your cash.
Kuma BurgersAddress and Info
Despite its location inside a Greenway Plaza food court, it didn’t take this NKOTB long to gain a loyal following. The umami-forward flavor of the burgers (thanks to a special soy-shiitake-slather) probably has something to do with that. The whole lineup starts at $7, so choose whichever burger suits your tastes best. But if you like heat, going SPICY!!! is an easy decision. Three kinds of jalapeño, house sambal mayo, pepper jack cheese, and soy-marinated serrano chilis make the burger truly special.
Tookie’s Cheese Burger with American and griddled onions
Tookie’s Hamburgers & MoreAddress and Info
True story: Our burger expert, the venerable Kevin Alexander, is flying around the country eating burgers for an entire year (good luck with that, KA). He started in Houston, and this long-running bayside burger institution’s perfectly thin and peppery crusted smashed patties took the top spot not only in this city, but in his entire journey thus far. Follow Kevin’s #ThrillistBurgerQuest to see why.
Tornado BurgerAddress and Info
The second cheapest burger on our list comes with a duo of spicy 2oz patties that sit pretty on a buttered and toasted bun. Think of it like a quarter pounder, but with actually good beef that gets freshly ground with garlic, jalapeños, onions, and spices ground directly into the meat. At this price, you can afford to add some fresh-cut chili, cheese fries, too.
Lankford's GroceryAddress and Info
It’s hard to pick a burger at this old-timey, cash-only haunt. But when hot shoestring fries are stacked right on so you don’t have to spend the extra money for a side, the decision is practically made for you. The Cuban mixes a burger with a Miami’s favorite sandwich, stacking on Swiss cheese and ham, red onions, and sweet and spicy Cuban sauce, too.
Bernie’s Burger BusAddress and Info
Bellaire (& Katy)
Hope you weren’t traumatized by bus rides as a kid, because some of Houston's finest burgers come straight out of this big yellow school bus. The gourmet burgers have a seriously beefy flavor thanks to a house-ground blend of three cuts of Black Angus. They can be accompanied by everything from tipsy onions and bacon to grilled cheese buns, but if you’re trying to lighten the hit to your paycheck, go for the thin, double patty Class Clown, made simply with American, lettuce, tomato, and house-made burger sauce on a freshly baked potato bun. Throw in a chocolate malt milkshake and you've pretty much got the best school lunch ever.
Hubcap GrillAddress and Info
Heights (& Downtown & Kemah)
With a Portuguese bread-like bed for its massive burgers, Hubcap just may rock the best bun in town. But it’s the stuff between the bread that draws fans near and far. The 1/3lb patties are good enough to be left alone, with a soy, umami flavor that our burger expert deemed “absolutely fantastic.” Purists will love them topped with just cheese and grilled onions, and those looking for a little more oomph can get wackiness in the form of a Frito Pie Burger, Muffaletta Burger, and peanut butter and bacon-topped Sticky Burger for under $8, too.
The Classic Burger
Hopdoddy Burger BarAddress and Info
We have to give it up to Austin because this big and beefy import is legitimately delicious. The burger bar offers a wide variety of burger choices made with locally sourced ingredients and from-scratch buns, but its Classic version needs nothing but Angus beef, LTO, and “sassy sauce” (the addicting house sauce made with horseradish, honey mustard, and mayo) to shine. Get it alongside burger’s favorite companion: beer.
Guru Burgers & CrepesAddress and Info
This enlightened burger isn’t light at all. With 6oz of grass-fed Texas Akaushi dripping its beef juice onto a buttery challah bun alongside grilled red onion, jalapeño, smoked bacon, and a scorching house-made habanero sauce, you may need a nap after this one. Especially since you’re getting a crushed Oreos and Nutella crepe for dessert, right?
The Burger JointAddress and Info
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’.
The ShackAddress and Info
We like all the locally sourced, fresh-formed, and sloppy-as-all-hell burgers at this cult favorite burger resort, but some will run you a bit over $8. The Cooter Jack, however, is not one of them. The monster burger hits every topping checkpoint, with buttermilk fried onion strings for crunch, smokey BBQ sauce for sweetness, chipotle mayo for richness and heat, and gooey Jack cheese... for cheese. Get it on a jalapeño cheddar bun (our choice), a pretzel bun (some people's choice), or no bun at all (WHOSE CHOICE IS THIS???).
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1. Sparkle's Hamburger Spot1515 Dowling St, Houston
2. JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers3501 W. Holcombe Blvd, Houston
3. Killen's Burgers2804 S Main St, Pearland
4. Stanton's City Bites1420 Edwards St, Houston
5. Poppa Burger1622 N Main St, Houston
6. Kuma Burgers3 Greenway Plz, Houston
7. Tookie’s Hamburgers & More1202 Bayport Blvd, Seabrook
8. Tornado Burger505 FM 1092 Rd , Stafford
9. Lankford Grocery & Market88 Dennis St, Houston
10. Bernie’s Burger Bus Stop5407 Bellaire Blvd, Houston
11. Hubcap Grill1133 W 19th St, Houston
12. Hopdoddy Burger Bar4444 Westheimer Rd Ste H100, Houston
13. Guru Burgers & CrepesSugar Land Town Square Plaza, 2268 Texas Dr, Houston
14. The Burger Joint2703 Montrose Blvd, Houston
15. The Shack16602 Cypress Rosehill Rd, Cypress
This shabby, carry-out shack on the east side of downtown has amassed a loyal following over the years for its old-school, no-nonsense burgers, which are served alongside large potato-wedge fries. Our recommendation? Go for the juicy, half-pound monster of a cheeseburger, some well-seasoned tater tots, and a root beer float. Pro tip: place your order by phone ahead of time to avoid what's sure to be a long wait.
This sleek, industrial-style spot serves up burgers and dogs that are Texas-sized and made with all-natural, humanely raised beef. A must-try is the build-your-own-dog, which adventurous eaters can top with add-ons like chili, fried egg, and jalapeño cream cheese. Or, go with the house cheeseburger, grilled over an open flame and topped with American cheese, griddled onions, and Ernie’s sauce (mayo, ketchup, and relish). Another fresh pick? The bacon avocado burger. No matter what, pair your choice with a thick, hand-spun milkshake.
There’s no doubt chef Ronnie Killen was already “killen” it (sorry) with his steak and 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 like a 1950s-style diner complete with milkshakes and an old-fashioned soda fountain. In addition to the thick, griddled cheeseburgers, you should absolutely tack on a side of fried cheese curds or crisp, crinkle-cut fries.
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.
Poppa Burger is about as greasy a spoon as it gets. Northside Village’s cash-only fast-food burger joint provides customers with juicy patties and fries 24/7, and since the burgers are slim, they’re just as perfect for a late-night bite as a midday meal. At the counter, order the Big Poppa cheeseburger for an extra hunk of meat. While Poppa is not conducive to a leisurely sit-down meal, do take your fluffy bun and oily fries out to the patio, where you can plop your other buns down on a green picnic table and take your first bite.
Office building Greenway Plaza is hiding some of the best burgers in Houston, all thanks to Kuma Burger, the brainchild of former Oxheart chef Willet Fang. The 5oz, wide yet thin, never-frozen patties are slung onto the flat-top grill where they are slathered with an umami glaze of browned butter, soy, pureed shitake mushroom, roasted garlic, and Worcestershire before they can finally relax atop their Sheila Partin sweet sourdough rolls. Your fun begins when you select your combination of toppings (choose from cheese, veggies, kimchi relish, seared spam, guacamole, and others) your smudgy fingerprint on the greasy sandwich. Too hesitant to take the plunge? Order a tried and true chef-designed creation like the SPICY!!!, served with fresh, charred, and pickled jalapenos, sambal mayo, pepper jack cheese, and soy-marinated serrano chilies.
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.
Tornado Burger, a Stafford neighborhood fast-food burger joint, offers greasy, divey burgers that feel so wrong but taste so right. The patties are hand-formed in-house, using onions, jalapenos, garlic, and other peppers that get mushed right in. Tornado burgers air on the slim side, so be sure to double up on your meat-to-bun ratio with the Double Cheeseburger. And while you’re ordering at the counter, don’t forget to bulk up on loaded fries, which you can customize to your waistline’s desire, with toppings like feta, bacon, ranch, and grilled onion.
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.
Some of Houston's best burgers and fries come straight out of a big yellow school bus, otherwise known as the kitchen of Bernie's Burger Bus. Bernie's still has waiters and seating though, not to mention milkshakes, wines, and beers on tap. The gourmet burgers, all of which have school-themed names like "The Principal" and "Homeroom," are constructed from a blend of house-ground black Angus beef and served on locally-baked buns. Add in homemade condiments and you've got the best school lunch ever.
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.
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.
The owners of Guru Burgers and Crepes are passionate about serving good, healthy food. While we can’t vouch for the nutritional value of the menu’s burgers, fries, hot dogs, and crepes, we can get behind Guru’s use of sustainable ingredients, like organic grass-fed beef, cage-free chicken, roaming buffalo, and wild elk. Try burger creations like the Korean Kowboy with house-made Korean BBQ sauce and pair it with the beloved beet chips and dip. If you’re trying to let loose, round out your meal with craft beers and wines in the airy white-brick dining room.
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.
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.