First Look at Hubcap Grill and Beer Garden in the Heights

I'd never had a taste of Hubcap Grill before, so when they opened up their new grill and beer garden in the Heights last week, it moved to the top of my list of places to try.

A few days ago, the temperature was over one hundred, and when I realized I'd have to stand outside in line to order, I was skeptical the food would be worth the sweat. Luckily, the line wasn't too long, and we managed to put in an order after about seven minutes. Not bad, but I can only imagine how long the lines are on weekends.

Immediately after ordering, we ducked inside with our drinks to soak up some A/C and wait for the food. The inside, which seats about 20, is a rather stark room with fluorescent lighting and mostly bare walls.

The layout of the whole place is a little strange -- the interior is not visibly connected to the kitchen, so you'd have to re-exit to retrieve your food at the pick-up window located next to the order window. The music broadcasted out to the diners on the patio deck is nowhere to be heard indoors; sitting inside not only means feeling disconnected from the camaraderie going on outside but also possibly missing your number being called and thus your food.

The picnic tables outside are definitely the place to be, but I appreciate that Hubcap Grill offers an indoor air-conditioned alternative. Come fall though, everyone will be fighting for a spot on the deck.

Not only does Hubcap Grill serve tasty all-American burgers (and some not-so-American, like the Greek burger with olives and feta), they have a selection of bottled craft brews. And if beer isn't your thing, there are old-fashioned sodas in a bottle, from Stewart's root beer and orange 'n cream to Coca-Cola Classic.

A order came out in about ten minutes. The Hangover Fries came recommended to us by an employee: hand-cut potatoes smothered in chili with an over-easy egg on top. Each forkful was delicious, although I couldn't help wishing I had caramelized onions and some sharp cheddar in the mix.

Next was the regular cheeseburger: a ground beef patty and a slice of cheese between two perfectly toasted buns. Condiments available with the regular cheeseburger are lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise and mustard.

I originally asked for my pickles on the side, but they scoffed at my request: "You can't get anything on the side; it has to be on the burger or not at all." I was reminded of the recent tweets from Hubcap Grill's Ricky Craig, which clearly stated that there would be no turkey or veggie options at Hubcap Grill. They only have beef, and beef is what you'll get.

While some may find the inflexibility irritating, I think it shows utmost confidence in their products, and I happily concede to Hubcap's burger-making expertise. I judge a burger by its meat and its buns, and I dare say Hubcap serves up some of the best in Houston.

Then I bit into the Philly cheesesteak burger, and it blew their already delicious regular cheeseburger out of the water. Served with thinly sliced marinated ribeye steak over a patty, melted Swiss cheese, grilled onions and bell peppers, and special sauce, Hubcap's Philly burger was mildly sweet and extremely decadent. For a second, I felt like I was betraying Houston by eating a local burger with another city's name in it, but the guilt was quickly smothered by my swooning taste buds.

For about ten dollars, you can get a very good burger, a side of fries, and a drink. Next time, I plan to try their sweet potato fries and the Double Decker with American and Swiss cheeses. I'll ask for just mayo on the Hubcap rendition of my favorite college burger, Jack-in-the-Box's Ultimate Cheeseburger.

Hubcap Grill and Beer Garden wasn't open on Saturday for lunch, and I'm hoping this is because they're still trying to get into the groove of things. Some things remain the same though: they don't take credit cards--only cash or debit.

What are your favorite things to get at Hubcap? I need to know what to order on my upcoming visits.

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