The first iteration of Bernie's Burger Bus was actually just a rundown 1986 school bus that was refurbished by owner and chef Justin Turner into a burger hub on wheels back in 2010. From there, the business grew, with brick-and-mortars in Bellaire and Katy, and so did Turner's acclaim. He won the competition cooking show Chopped in 2016 and used the prize money as you'd likely expect any Chicago native would — to go see the Cubs win The World Series for the first time in 108 years.
Turner tells the Press he anticipates a lot of business from people heading into work, folks who might want to grab something quick and easy to take to the office in the morning. That's basically why he created a menu of breakfast sliders packed with frittata-style eggs — imagine a fancier fast-food sandwich — with three options, including a classic bacon/pork sausage and cheese slider with chipotle aioli, a slow-roasted beef slider with swiss cheese and chimichurri, or a vegetarian option with pepper jack, guacamole and pico de gallo.
For people with more time to dine in, you'll find a decadent riff on chilaquiles called the Spanish Club, a hearty breakfast bowl and larger breakfast sandwiches served daily.
Turner even has somewhat of a scientific method to creating the perfect burger, which he's tested out via a number of blind tastings and trial-and-error in a food lab. Did you know, for instance, that putting mayo on the bottom of a bun can act as a barrier against the meat's juices turning it all soggy? In this case that bun would be challah sourced from Slow Dough, which carries a nice greasy sheen on the top as it well should, but somehow stays pristine and soft on the bottom.
Burgers such as The Homeroom, bedecked in oozy fried egg and bacon, and The Cheerleader, with crispy fried jalapeños and a dollop of spicy ranch and melty pepper jack, are still on the menu, but you'll also find numerous specials: $3 sliders on Wednesdays, fried chicken sandwiches (for a limited time) and Turner's cult-favorite lobster rolls, which are served on Fridays.
"I'm actually a seafood guy," he says. "Back when I was a personal chef, that's what I was known for."
Whether or not that means a seafood restaurant could ever be on the way is anybody's guess, but Turner recently told CultureMap that he's eyeing more potential locations in Houston and even Austin. That's a long way from his days working the line at Wendy's and Outback Steakhouse, two places where the chef actually got his start.
There's also an ancho-chile riff on a Pimm's Cup that's dangerously refreshing and lots of bourbon and beer.
Daily happy hour specials, 3 to 7 p.m., include $4 drafts, $5 wines and frozen drinks and $1-off boozy shakes.
Bernie's Burger Bus
2200 Yale, 713-867-8600
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.