By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Barbecue burgers are available only Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., while they last, and they always sell out. A juicy half-pound ground beef patty is cooked and then finished in a hickory-stoked smoker. For best results, be sure to get it with barbecue sauce, onions and pickles, not lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo.
Honorable mention: Original New Orleans Po' Boy (cheeseburger poor boy)
Three Chain Burgers
Oversize hamburgers made with freshly ground beef are all the rage at chain restaurants these days. Here are three Houston favorites worth checking out.
2902 Kirby Drive, 713-524-7085; and seven other locations
Don't complain if the dining room is smoky -- it's a small price to pay for mesquite-grilled meat. USDA Choice chuck roasts are ground on the premises of each location every morning. The fresh ground meat is formed into half-pound patties by machine. You can get them medium-rare if you like. The original on Kirby has been open since 1985. A Bellaire bakery has been baking the buns for 20 years. This may be the best chain burger in America.
3899 Southwest Freeway, 713-626-9950; and two other locations
When Houstonians went "cruising for burgers" back in the day, the most popular destination was Prince's Drive-In, which first opened in 1934. The new locations pay homage to the old drive-ins with historic photos and old menus. The Angus beef, which is ground fresh daily, is available medium-rare. The "king's favorite" is a half-pound patty with chili, cheese and grilled onion on top, and lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard and mayo on the bottom. The "original" features Prince's sauce, which looks like a slurry of pureed fresh tomatoes.
3929 Southwest Freeway, 713-621-8222; and 17 other locations
Born in San Antonio, the Fuddrucker's chain is famous for grinding its own meat and baking its own buns. The machine-formed burger comes in third-pound, half-pound, two-thirds-pound and one-pound sizes. They'll griddle-cook it medium-rare if you want, though there is a warning on the menu about the health risks. You dress the burger yourself. This is the granddaddy of the new old-fashioned burger chains.
Honorable mention: Culver's ButterBurgers, Chili's, Outback Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesday