$13 at Bill's Cafe
Photos by James Holmes
Where: Bill's Café, 22845 Loop 494, Kingwood, 281-358-6198
What $13 gets you: Basically anything on the menu, from burgers, fries and beer to chicken wings and fried mozzarella sticks. This unpretentious burger joint doesn't put on airs or gouge its customers.
Bill's is a long-held Kingwood secret. It looks a lot like an icehouse, made up of a small trailer and what's basically a garage with picnic tables. Bill's advertising runs along these lines: Someone exclaims, "What!?! You've never been to Bill's?" and the myth continues to grow.
Best known as a burger joint, it falls somewhere between McDonald's and Fuddruckers in the vast burger spectrum. The meat patties are generously thick, seasoned just enough to give them some flavor and cooked medium-well. I wouldn't have minded if they had taken mine off the fire about two minutes earlier, but they are still fairly juicy without being pink. The burgers come prepared in the classic Texas burger style: mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and not a drop of ketchup for only $4.95. Want cheddar and bacon? That will set you back another $1.25.
The appetizer menu consists of seven options, all fried, next to a price that - to quote the menu - is "per piece." Pick your poison and name your quantity. I opted for four chicken wings for 70 cents each. My lunch partner had the mozzarella sticks for 60 cents each. Both obviously started out frozen, but were still tasty.
We both had the burgers and were full, but - more importantly - satisfied by them. They were big, delicious and covered in toppings. We shared a basket of fries for $1.95. The just-greasy-enough mound of natural-cut fried potato slices was more than enough for the both of us. The burgers and fries were flavorful and the prices are hard to beat. There's also a decent selection of beer: from Coors and Shiner, to Bud Light Lime and Smirnoff for the lady folk and pansies. Feel like a bottle of wine with your burger? They don't sell it at Bill's, but have no problem with you bringing your own.
Everything about Bill's is down home kitsch. Trucker hats and beer signs adorn the walls, and the stools at the counter are covered with faux animal hide. Service is slow because no one is in hurry, including the lone waitress. My companion and I sat at the counter inside the trailer, because if you sit outside you had best be ready for a long, leisurely meal as you won't see the waitress very often.
Recommended? Yes. Just don't be in a hurry. Allow yourself to get swept up in the laid-back attitude of the place. Catch an episode of Wheel of Fortune with Bill, who is regularly there drinking beer, watching TV and talking to customers.
Don't miss: The T-shirts that say "Where the hell is Bill's Café?" If you visit more than once with your girlfriend or other female loved one, you are most likely going to end up purchasing her one. Yes, they come in pink.
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