Houston's Top 10 Pub Burgers
A Rudyard's burger in the "living room of Montrose."
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
With the new Texans season in full swing and plenty of great spots around town to catch the game, we decided to scope out the best burgers at our city's pubs and sports bars, because you can't put your body through the stress of an NFL game without a full belly.
Sorry, Arian Foster. None of these pub burgers are vegan, but they're all delicious.
Honorable mention goes to Crazy J's, the new icehouse from the owners of Little Bitty Burger Barn. While Crazy J's doesn't serve food (that and its newness are the only things keeping it from being included on the list), you can order it from LBBB down the block and have it delivered to you for no extra charge.
While there is better food to be had at Rudz (try the $1 hot dogs or $1.50 chili dogs from 3 to 7 p.m. with purchase of an adult beverage), that doesn't mean its burger is shabby -- it just means the rest of the food is fine stuff. The Rudz burger comes with the basics: lettuce, pickle, onion, tomato. But you can always jazz it up by ordering a basket of Nuts & Bolts on the side. (Go for the fried okra.)
A surprisingly good burger can be found at Coaches Pub.
9. Coaches Pub
Maybe the most surprising entry on the list for some, Coaches Pub in Midtown nevertheless turns out a very nice, cooked-to-order burger (ask for it medium-rare for maximum ooze potential) in addition to offering consistently friendly service. My favorite is the Coaches Pub Burger, which comes with sautéed mushrooms, onions, two kinds of cheese and barbecue sauce, plus a side of fries -- and is less than $6 at lunch.
Burger nights are Thursday nights at Community Bar, which is equally famous (and deservedly so) for its Tuesday steak nights -- all of it cooked up by owner/chef Bob Covington. For only $8, you'll get a home-cooked burger and fries, with the burger on a sweet bun that spills over with bacon, mushrooms, sautéed onions, cheese and much more. The only thing that would make Burger Night better at Community Bar is if they also started screening episodes of Community too.
Christian's Tailgate has tailgating right in its name. How could you go wrong?
No matter which Christian's location you choose, you're guaranteed to have plenty of cold beer and big-screen TVs on which to watch the Texans. My favorite location for burgers, however, will always be the original on Washington -- the Washington that's north of I-10. The hefty, iceberg-topped burger tastes like old-school Texas, and that's just what the doctor ordered sometimes.
The Butcher's Burger at Hay Merchant is advertised as "the cheeseburger we'd give you at our house." And the finely textured meat that's ground daily surely attests to its homemade nature, but you'd expect only the best meat to show up at a beer bar that shares a kitchen with Underbelly. The burger is best enjoyed in its simplicity, but you can always top it with bacon and/or a fried egg.
The $13 burger at Branch Water is worth the price.
Photo by Mai Pham
Branch Water isn't a sports bar by any stretch, but it is a nice place to catch the game if a calmer and chicer climate suits you. In keeping with that climate, chef David Grossman offers an outstanding $13 Texas Wagyu beef burger that's worth every cent (Bon Appétit thinks so, too): Grossman grinds nine ounces of the Texas version of the thickly marbled Japanese beef, then tops it very simply with tomatoes, red onions, butter lettuce and his own pickles, all atop a fluffy bun that soaks up the steam of beef juices nicely. You'll still need plenty of napkins for this one, though.
Rockwell Tavern's big burgers don't mess around.
You may not expect a stellar craft beer selection and big, beautiful homemade burgers in this little strip-center tavern in Cypress. But Rockwell Tavern has cultivated a fervent following for offering those two things in spades, and it shows in the regulars who pack the place each night. One of the best things about Rockwell's burgers is the sweet buns that sandwich the beefy patty in place, a nice eggy lightness to them in the face of all that meat.
Monday night burger night at BRC isn't the madhouse you'd expect, given how damn good the burgers are -- and how discounted. A burger on a normal night runs you $8.50 ($3 extra if you get fries). But burger night gives you BRC's classic burger -- a sort of upscale version of the Big Mac, complete with "special sauce" but with bacon and cheese to boot -- along with a basket of fresh, hot, homemade fries for only $6.50.
A tangy, tzatziki-topped lamb burger at Petrol, one of several burger options.
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
Petrol is a less than ideal spot in which to watch any kind of sporting event -- but that's because it's a pub first and foremost. The draft beer selection is among the city's best, and the special casks and kegs that Petrol taps keep the place a perennial favorite among craft beer lovers. Even folks who could care less about beer, however, come to Petrol for its famous burgers -- especially now that the kitchen is back up and running. Burger and a pint night on Mondays may seem like the best night to go, but it's also the busiest. Stick to another night and enjoy the huge, craggy burger topped with salty Cheddar cheese with a cool, crisp pint. (Or go whole hog and order The Rancor.)
The Queen Vic's English burger comes with plenty of house-cut fries, to boot.
This is the burger that caused me to question what I thought was a constant in my life: hamburger buns. Why don't more places use English muffins for buns? They are much sturdier than regular buns but still soft, their craggy interior soaks up meat juice admirably and they're far thinner, which means the important meat-to-bun ratio is always perfectly tipped in favor of the meat. Oh, and that meat -- The Queen Vic's patties are ground fresh daily, then topped with housemade bread-and-butter pickles, salty English cheddar and peppy Coleman's mustard for a truly out-of-this-world burger experience. You might even forget the Texans are on TV.
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.