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Grub Burger Bar, From Aggie Country, Slings Some Fine Patties and (Loaded) Milkshakes

A pleasant surprise imported from College Station.

Want to see photos from behind the scenes of this week's Cafe review? Check out our slideshow "A Closer Look at Grub Burger Bar."

Houston is positively swimming in great burgers, and Grub only adds to our reputation as a burger mecca. The secret is in the hand-formed patties, which are made from Angus chuck and brisket, ground in-house daily. These patties are neither thin and sickly nor overwhelmingly large. The servers who take orders at the counter don't ask how you want your burger prepared because each comes out perfectly medium-well. I tend to like my burgers a little more pink on the inside, but I had to admit the cooking time was ideal, and it took nothing away from the flavor of the meat mixture.

The assertive sear from the grill brings out the flavor of the protein while holding in the juices, so the burger stays moist throughout. And though the lightly seasoned and browned patty would make a fine dish on its own, the well-considered add-ons make each burger a complete thought.

You will need a creamy, hand-spun milkshake to wash down the heat in the Ghost Burger.
Troy Fields
You will need a creamy, hand-spun milkshake to wash down the heat in the Ghost Burger.

Location Info

Map

Grub Burger Bar

799 Town and Country Blvd., #200
Houston, TX 77024

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Outer Loop - NW

Details

Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Ahi tuna: $9
French fries: $2.25
Luau Fries: $7
Napa salad: $8.75
Lockhart Legend Burger: $7.75
VooDoo mushroom Burger: $7.50
Ghost Burger: $7.75
Hippie chickpea burger: $8.50
Wild Alaskan salmon burger: $10
Hand spun shake: $4.25
Spiked shake: $6.50



Want to see photos from behind the scenes of this week's Cafe review? Check out our slideshow "A Closer Look at Grub Burger Bar."


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Perhaps the best of Grub's signature sandwiches is the Lockhart Legend burger, a nod to the barbecue haven that is Lockhart, Texas, which lies just outside San Marcos. In homage to the city that bills itself the barbecue capital of the state, the burger comes with all the fixings of a fine platter of brisket. It's topped with melted Cheddar cheese, zesty dill pickle slices and two crispy onion rings, and then, just to take it up a notch, Grub adds some applewood-smoked bacon and homemade barbecue sauce laced with Dr Pepper. The beauty of the Lockhart Legend is that, in spite of the multitude of extras, it isn't over the top. The ingredients harmonize in such a way that each contributes something — a bit of spice, a rush of vinegar or a mellow smokiness—to the burger as a whole.

Those less inclined to tackle such a beast could opt for the Guacapotle burger, which boasts Cheddar cheese, fresh guacamole and a touch of heat from delicious chipotle aioli. With the same great patty as the canvas, Grub turns a mushroom-topped burger into a VooDoo mushroom burger, with melted Swiss cheese, green onions and an ode to N'awlins via absinthe-fortified mushrooms that pack a licorice kick. And as if Luau fries aren't enough, the party comes in burger form, too — it's all the toppings of those captivating fries on a mound of meat (instead of potatoes).

For all that Grub does right, the restaurant does get one minor thing wrong: the buns. It pains me to say that, because the restaurant is clearly proud of those glistening, buttery buns, which are made fresh hourly and are available for purchase by the bag. They taste great — I'll give Grub that — but each time I ate a burger, I found the buns dry and a little too present for my liking. The bun-to-burger ratio seemed off. When I removed the top half of my bun and made an open-faced burger, the flavors were more vivid, unmarred by the extra bread.

Beef is not all that's for dinner, though. Grub offers up burgers made from chickpeas, poultry and seafood, as well as some mighty tasty and very fresh salads. In the best salad, ahi tuna cooked rare lies seductively across a bed of butter lettuce and arugula lightly dressed with pickled ginger and wasabi-teriyaki vinaigrette, which, as with the burgers, sounds like too much of a good thing but isn't.

It's just enough.
_____________________

There's another great burger on the menu that deserves a mention. In truth, there are several, but there's one in particular that I appreciate as much for its unique taste as for its gimmicky nature: The Ghost Burger.

When I first read the description, I chuckled a little. One of Grub's fine patties topped with pepper jack cheese (a little spicy), grilled jalapeños (slightly more spicy) and "ghost chili sauce" made with ghost peppers (unbelievably hot). There's an italicized note under the description that reads, "Try inferno style with ice cream chaser."

"Does it really come with an ice cream chaser?" I asked the woman at the counter.

"It does," she replied, looking me up and down. "You're going to need it. I suggest you get the sauce on the side, too. It's hot."

Now, I love spicy food. I stare spicy food in the eye and laugh at its pathetic attempt to vanquish me. I say bring it on. And that's why, when the burger arrived, perfect patty and slightly too much bun, as usual, I picked up the whole thing and dunked it jovially into the metal ramekin of sauce.

I took a bite. It was wonderful — a wash of beefy burger followed by smoky charred jalapeños, a touch of cheesy funk from the pepper jack and a good mouthful of bun to cool things off. I let the flavors mellow on my tongue for a moment, and then, suddenly, the bite I had taken...that bite took me.

The room spun a bit as heat rushed from my mouth into my sinuses and back behind my eyeballs. I groped for the ice cream, never before so happy to see a tiny dollop of soft-serve. I downed it, just as one might down a chaser, and sat back, waiting for the dairy to work its magic.

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4 comments
jennytulltx
jennytulltx

Why is it we keep reading about hamburgers?  Burn a piece of meat, slap it on a bun.  Voila!  Hamburger!

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@jennytulltx While I tend to agree with you on that, the majority of Houstonians flip over hamburgers! They just eat it all up! 


See what I did there?

james.brock
james.brock

@del.martinis @jennytulltx  I firmly state that the hamburger is the most abused food item out there. A great burger - proper mixture of meats, perfect bun (must be buttered and toasted/grilled), proper temperature, ideal mix of condiments/additions - is a fine thing indeed, but so rare to find. I have had perhaps three in my life thus far, and I made two of them.

 
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