Checking in at Stanton's City Bites
Photo by J.C. Reid
Seems like every year about this time there's a flurry of blog posts and buzz about an "undiscovered" burger joint called Stanton's City Bites (1420 Edwards St.). Of course, Stanton's has been around forever, but it seems to keep a relatively low profile in the ongoing Houston burger wars. Hardcore Houston burger fanatics swear by it, and it always seems to place well in the Best of Houston® awards (this year it won the Reader's Choice award for Best Burger).
Stanton's consistent placing in the Best of Houston® awards may explain its yearly blast of publicity. I'd never been there so I decided to check in and see how the highly regarded Stanton's bacon cheeseburger ($3.99!) stacked up to the competition.
Stanton's environs are well-documented - it's probably the shabbiest burger joint in Houston, with little parking and no tables, but a friendly and accommodating owner behind the counter. The first time I try a new burger I always get it "dry," i.e. no mayo or mustard. I want to get an uncontaminated taste of the burger meat and bun.
The Stanton's burger patty was distinctive in two ways -- a finer texture and a noticeable lack of seasoning allowed a very intense meaty/fatty flavor to come through. Based on the texture, I'd guess they're using a leaner ground meat, maybe ground round rather than ground chuck. This makes the intense meat flavor even more surprising -- you'd expect leaner meat to have less flavor. Not the case here. I didn't miss the lack of seasoning, because the natural flavor of the ground meat was wonderful. There was a nice char on the surface to add some depth of flavor. It was very moist and juicy. It had a "smashed" appearance, with the melting cheese oozing into the crevasses of the ragged outer edge.
The toppings -- cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato -- were all fresh and tasty. The major drawback to this burger was the store-bought, sesame seed bun. It was fresh and toasted and certainly acceptable, but burger bun quality in Houston has taken a giant leap forward over the years with the likes of Hubcap Grill making fresh, homemade buns. All in all, Stanton's makes a very good burger, but it would be hard for me to drive past Hubcap or Lankford just to go there.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.