Elevation Burger: Ingredients Matter, But So Does Flavor

A burger and fries for me is one of those guilty pleasure meals in life -- you know it's not great for you but when you want one you want a really good one. When a craving hits you, it hits you hard and if you've used up your designated cheat day for something else, you're S.O.L. I was hoping that Elevation Burger would solve that problem for me. When a burger craving crept up on me maybe I could get away with a "healthy" burger -- but what I discovered was if you're gonna eat a burger -- just eat a burger.

Elevation Burger is a chain with locations from Kuwait to Austin. The first Houston location opened in 2012. According to the website their philosophy is to "elevate" the dining experience by providing 100 percent organic, free range, grass-fed beef and high quality ingredients. They also offer veggie and vegan burgers.

Among the choices for your burger are the "Elevation Burger" which comes with double meat, the "Half the Guilt" burger that comes with one meat patty and one veggie or vegan patty, a regular veggie or vegan burger, or the "Vertigo" burger where you can stack as many as 10 patties of your choice. Once you choose your burger you can then add as many toppings as you like from tomatoes, onions and jalepenos to hot pepper relish and organic bacon. The calorie count is prominently displayed for everything on the menu -- you'll get sticker shock when you notice the shakes are a whopping 710 calories.

My friend went with the straight up veggie burger ($4.49) as he doesn't eat beef - I wonder how I'm friends with him too -- and I opted for the "Half the Guilt" ($6.59) and even went one step further and ordered it bunless -- adding on tomatoes, pickles, carmalized onions and jalepenos. We both ordered a side of fries ($2.99), touted for being fried in heart-healthy olive oil.

One thing I noticed right away was the freshness of the toppings. The lettuce was crisp, the tomatoes and pickles were thick sliced and bright in color, the onion on my friend's burger was a whole substantial ring and my jalapenos still had crunch to them.

But the word that came to mind during the meal was "bland." Everything was bland, the thin, and I do mean thin, beef patty had no flavor to it, the veggie patty didn't fare any better and had a really mushy quality to it. Ordering it bunless wasn't the best idea either as everything fell apart from the first bite and I ended up using the thick end of the lettuce as a scooper. The french fries were crisp and weren't bogged down with grease but also lacked salt. I know sodium isn't healthy -- but I mean, maybe just a sprinkle?

Elevation Burger is obviously a much better option than your usual fast food joint and in a pinch I'd much rather spend a little more here for a far superior and healthier product --But if I'm going to eat a burger, I'm just going to eat a burger.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Minh T Truong