Bellville is roughly about 60 miles from the Westchase area, an hour day trip worth every minute. As with most little towns, it is quaint and quiet, moving at a pace unfamiliar to us city slickers. There's a town square, an original unlike the replicas we're seeing all over Houston. Then there is all manner of eateries that have been around since the early days of the republic. Okay, maybe not that long, but they do go way back. Enter The Hill, home of old-fashioned burgers, malts and all the fixin's your little heart desires.
The Hill opened its doors back in 1952 as Schrader's, named after the original family that owned it. The kids around town never called it by this name, opting instead to "meet for burgers at the hill." The nickname stuck, and it was officially renamed in the '80s. Ken Parker, the current owner, mentioned that the restaurant is the oldest in Bellville. He's been eating there since he was a kid and has seen generations do the same.
A cute '50s diner setup surrounds an open kitchen where you can watch as your order is prepared. I got the double cheeseburger and was oh-so pleased to bite into a toasty bun -- the way every burger should be served. The bun comes from the local bakery, which is probably why it has that homemade taste, soft and slightly sweet, like a doughy pillow.
The meat was tender and juicy, even though it wasn't a thick patty; the cheese melted into it, and the thin slices of tomato and lettuce added a nice, contrasting texture.
Onion rings are always my preferred side; theirs are not too thick, not too thin, and battered in a cornmeal mix that gives the final product a nice crunch -- no soggy and oily rings here. They offer a great selection of fountain drinks such as Blue Bell shakes, malts and floats.
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I will definitely be back to Bellville to discover more of its small-town eateries, but you should make the short drive this holiday weekend, take in the sights, spot some nice classic cars and have a burger at The Hill.
I'd like to know about your old town favorites. Drop me a line and tell me all about it.