Hubcap Grill has garnered both critical acclaim and a dedicated following of downtown office workers/burger fanatics. But the tiny space on Prairie Street has a few quirks -- the "dining room" has only a few tables, and the adjacent patio is uninhabitable during summer months. Additionally, closing time is at 3 p.m., limiting visits to lunch time. For what it is -- a small burger joint cranking out some of the best burgers in Houston for a downtown lunchtime crowd -- Hubcap has been very successful.
Fortunately, owner Ricky Craig has decided to build on the success of the original location by opening a new spot on South Main near Buffalo Speedway (9591 South Main). And he has listened to the recommendations of his customers -- the new location is several times larger with many more tables, and it is open until 7 p.m. Not exactly late hours, but just enough time for those with a Hubcap craving to pick up a to-go order for dinner. Craig says he will see how business goes and then adjust the closing time accordingly.
The new location follows the modus operandi of the previous one -- a spartan dining room paired with a diverse menu of creative burgers made to order with the freshest ingredients. The menu at the new location is the same as the downtown one, except for a dessert option in the form of strawberry, lemon and chocolate sheet cake made by Ricky's mom. The cakes are as fresh and homemade as the burgers and fries. Let's hope they stay on the menu.
The new Hubcap Grill is located in a scruffy shopping center on South Main just inside the South Loop. It's not much to look at from the outside, but don't be fooled by the exterior (same can be said of the downtown location). The dining room is spacious and spotlessly clean. But keep in mind that credit cards are not accepted, and an ATM has not yet been installed -- be sure to bring cash.
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On the day I was there, Ricky was manning the kitchen and his dad was taking orders up front. There was a steady stream of neighborhood denizens, as well as workers from the many auto dealerships in the area - impressive, considering it was the first full day open and there had been virtually no publicity. I had the Frito Pie burger and fries. It was as good as downtown, and as good as ever.