Restaurant News

First Look at Joy Love Burgers

Houston is home to some of the most diverse and innovative cuisine in the country, but if there is one type of food this town loves, it’s a good burger.  Fortunately, many great burgers are available in a variety of menus ranging from food trucks (Craft Burger, Flip ‘N Patties) to chef-driven concepts (Killen’s Burgers, Underbelly, Hunky Dory) to regional chains (Hopdoddy’s, Whataburger) and local favorites (Bernie’s Burger Bus, Hubcap Grill).

Is it possible then that a small, mom and pop burger concept in Katy can stand out from the competition?

It is easy to miss Joy Love Burgers, 1801 North Mason, at first glance.  It's located in a tiny spot within an old, slightly deteriorated shopping center.  Inside there are only three tables, and five seats at the counter. It is so small that there's no public restroom.  Despite these limitations, there has been a positive buzz surrounding the burgers on social media and lines have been frequent and long.

Joy Love’s most popular burger, the Crazy Burger, has double 100 percent ground chuck Angus beef patties, double cheese with mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles, bacon, tomato, grilled onions and Thousand Island dressing – essentially an In-N-Out burger on steroids. The meat is seasoned well and the cheese is thoroughly melted into the patties.  The mixture of the Thousand Island and mayonnaise adds to the flavor but isn’t overwhelming. 

But what really sets the burger apart is the hamburger buns, which are baked fresh every day.  Joon
Jeon, the owner and chef of Joy Love Burgers, is a former baker and his skills are highlighted in every bun.  The buns are airy and have a texture similar to that of brioche.  They also have a wonderful taste, with a toasty, buttery flavor to it and a light crisp on the outside.  Although not as dense as a typical bun, they're still able to contain the flavor and absorb the juices from the meat and the sauces. 

Joy Love’s cheeseburger has a nice heft to it for being $5.45, and is also made with 100 percent ground chuck Angus beef along with mayonnaise, pickles, onions, lettuce and tomatoes. While not as flavorful as the Crazy Burger, the cheeseburger benefits from Jeon’s fresh-baked buns. The fries have a nice crisp to them and some seasoning, but still could have used a tad more flavor.

Joy Love’s menu has a number of choices including fish 'n’ chips, sandwiches (club and melts), wings and fried pork chops, but the burgers are clearly the specialty.  Owing to the limited seating, lines can get long during peak lunch and dinner times.  To avoid the wait, customers are encouraged to call in their order ahead of time. 

While Katy’s dining scene often gets overlooked because it’s composed of so many corporate restaurant chains and franchises, it’s always a nice surprise when a local concept is able to introduce something unique and interesting. Joy Love Burgers isn’t revolutionizing the hamburger, but every burger fan should consider trying out this humble place.

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Thomas Nguyen is a freelance food writer for the Houston Press and co-founder of South African restaurants Peli Peli & Peli Peli Kitchen.