A Block of Burgers in Alvin

Rarely do you find a saturation of good food in a small town. So it's a pleasant surprise to see Alvin's tidy little downtown area housing three excellent eateries, all located right next door to one another: The much ballyhooed Barbed Rose, the Burger Bar (its attached, open-air burger joint) and their neighbor, Fat Daddy's.

And although the Barbed Rose has brought seriously fine dining to the sleepy little downtown square, Fat Daddy's (100 N. Gordon Street) isn't one to be overlooked. The restaurant has been there for a few years and has seen a few menu changes in that time, but the current incarnation -- burgers on one end and coffee on the other -- seems to fit the building and the atmosphere to a T.

The high ceilings, tall windows and dark-red walls inside the historic building lend more of a coffeehouse vibe to Fat Daddy's, as does the free Wi-Fi and a stage that looks perfectly suited to hosting acoustic nights. It's something you wouldn't expect to find in Alvin, which makes it all the more endearing.

But if you only thought of Fat Daddy's as a coffeehouse, you'd miss its splendid burgers.

Just yesterday, I proclaimed my love for the thin, compact, roadside-stand cheeseburger. It's rare for me to fall so completely in love with a burger that requires the use of both hands and a little ingenuity to eat.

The Who's Your Daddy Burger is the flagship burger here, a monster of a creation (for me) that starts with an incredibly moist, homemade jalapeño-cheese bun and ends with bliss. Although it's served with condiments on the side, the "Fat Daddy sauce" on one end of the bun -- which tastes like really good, peppery Louisiana hot sauce -- and the gooey, melty American cheese are really all I needed.

The patty here is hand-formed into a wonky sort of rectangle, trying its best to match the square bun, which is charming. And between the patty and the salad stuff is the final bit of magic: thick knobs of pickled jalapeños and a mound of spiced, battered, thinly cut onion rings.

Unfortunately, the fries that accompany the basket are uninspired, freezer-to-fryer shards of potato. And the basket itself is a bit pricy: $10.99, not taking into account the drive to Alvin (which can be quite far for a large part of the greater Houston area). But the burger itself is such a dream, I can honestly say it's the sort of thing I'd make a drive for -- especially if you're going to make an afternoon out of it at, say, Froberg Farm and Greak's Smokehouse.

And don't worry about the Barbed Rose and the Burger Bar; we'll get to them soon enough, too. In the meantime, keep an eye on Alvin as the newest -- and most improbable -- dining destination.

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