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The Burger Guys and the Zen of the Burger

Customized beefcakes from the complex to the purist's dream.

Those onion strings? They're available as a side order, too, as is a basket of fried green tomatoes whose too-thick crust traipses dangerously between tempura and funnel cake, lending an unflattering toughness to the proceedings. Skip those. The onion strings are fair game if you're with a group. Their thin, shattery coating allows the taste of the slightly crunchy onions to come through, along with a bit of a tangy, spicy bite. They're tasty, but not enough that you want to eat even half an order.

Almost regardless of which burger you order, there's something special to note. Though there is plenty of satisfying drippage, and plenty of richness to complement it, these burgers won't make you feel leaden. Perhaps it's the HeartBrand beef on offer, its lower dose of saturated fat lending a clean-flavored appeal to the proceedings. Of course, every rule needs its exception, and The Burger Guys cast The Tejas in that role.

The Tejas — topped with sautéed rajas and white cheese — is a creamy, oozy mess that falls into the category to which I refer as the "wallow burger," where the overwhelming unctuousness of it all mentally transports you to a place of secret shame as you cram the burger in your gaping maw in huge, careless bites. The cheese smears mayonnaise-like across your face, while Homer Simpson-esque eating sounds gargle their way up past the homo­geneous bliss of it all. You might not feel like a shake, which is the one reason I might steer you away from this (in)glorious bastard of a burger.

The Sonoma burger might be overlooked because of its simplicity in comparison to more complex offerings on the menu, but it's a purist's dream.
Troy Fields
The Sonoma burger might be overlooked because of its simplicity in comparison to more complex offerings on the menu, but it's a purist's dream.

Location Info

Map

The Burger Guys

706 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Details

The Burger Guys

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Duck Fat Fries: $3
Onion Straws: $3
Fried Green Tomatoes: $3
Sonoma Burger: $10
Buffalo Burger: $10
New York Burger: $10
Tejas Burger: $10
Houston Burger: $10
Saigon Burger: $10
El Barrio Burger: $14
Chicago Dog: $10
Cleveland Dog: $10
Caphe Sua Da Shake: $5
Salted Caramel Shake: $5
Ten Cup Chocolate Shake: $5
Thin Mint Shake: $6


View More:

Slideshow: Customized Beefcakes: Behind The Scenes With The Burger Guys
Blog: Zen and the Burger Venn (Diagram) at The Burger Guys Downtown


Assuming you do feel up to it, there's something you should know. All of the shakes have soft, butter-fatty chunks in them. Depending on size and distribution, they can make the shake feel grainy, almost like a slightly curdled custard. That's been a problem only once, and more often, they're like little flecks of decadent, creamy velvet. I'd miss them if a shake turned up without them. As flavors go, I'm partial to the Ten Cup Chocolate, its flavor deep and true. Be sure to ask about the seasonal flavor, though. A Thin Mint shake, its dairy base steeped with crushed up Girl Scout cookies, was a light and lovely rendition of what can so often be a cloying flavor combination, never steering toward gimmickry, as could so easily have been the case.

The Cleveland Dog was the only thing here that read as novelty (alas, I was not able to try the B.M.F., since the kitchen didn't have its requisite foie gras on hand). Meat on meat can be great. On the Cleveland, the bacon swaddling the foot-long frank only added a bit of crunch and salt, and that crunch wore off as the dog sat. Not bad, just nothing to write home about. This realization was quite a letdown to my cohorts, who, when deciding on which of the "Double Fisted Dogs" to order, offered an incredulous "It's wrapped in bacon" in summation of their argument in favor of the order. They were momentarily disappointed, but quelled their sadness in the aforementioned Thin Mint shake.

If you must have a dog, choose the Chicago, dragged through the garden, as they say. Sweetness, acid, salty-meaty-swagger; it's sensory overload, in perfect balance. Crunch comes in myriad forms, from the aggressively crisped casing of the dog itself to the sport peppers, pickles, tomatoes and pop of (blessedly neon) relish. Somehow, the resulting monstrosity is physically edible without wearing it, yet still managing to get a bit of everything in every bite.

If you don't believe you'll be able to eat that monster dog, or its equally intimidating burger brethren, without wearing it back to the office, never fear. The boys have taken that into consideration as well, positioning automatic paper-towel dispensers within arm's reach of every table. Wipe away the excess and get back to the office. Just don't expect it to be too long before that bright yellow awning starts calling your name again. Oh, and that bánh mì burger, the Saigon? It's pretty damn good.

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4 comments
Keith Hanna
Keith Hanna

Gotta go see Jake and the boys again. It's been a while.

brian.zygo
brian.zygo

I've only had the Sonoma Burger when I've been to Burger Guys - I was sold the first time and every time I go meaning to try a different burger, it's the Sonoma that keeps calling my name.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

$10 for a Chicago Dog is excessive.  JCI used to have one for under $5.  (back when they were getting authentic Chicago 1/4 lb. dogs.)

nhallfreelance
nhallfreelance

@FattyFatBastard Sorry for the late reply, was having trouble logging in (forgotten password, day job corp network doesn't like the commenting system, etc.). 

I can understand the point re: $10.00 hot dog. I think, given the quality and amount of food (Pretty much positive the dog is significantly larger than qp), it's a reasonable price, IF you're really wanting a hot dog. I don't really see going there for anything but a burger, because c'mon, look at those burgers. If you do, though, the Chicago Dog is the way to go.

 
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