It’s no secret that Houston is a burger loving town. Heck, we were even named America’s best Burger City in 2011 by Travel + Leisure Magazine, so when a new place for burgers enters the market, we take notice.
Debuting to long lines last Wednesday, The Burger Joint is the latest venture between Shawn Bermudez (Royal Oak, Stone’s Throw, Pistolero’s) and partner Matthew Pak (Koagie Hots, Golden Grill, Coreano’s, The Burger Joint truck).
Located in the former Little Bigs space behind Aladdin Mediterranean Restaurant near the corner of Montrose and Westheimer, the brightly lit red and white neon sign out front acts like homing beacon that just draws you in for a closer look. Once there, you’ll find a small, albeit colorful interior space dominated by a polished L-shaped wooden bar.
For decor, there are framed T-shirts with The Burger Joint’s logo, and cheeky slogans like “I like big buns.” To order, you just walk up to to the counter and let one of the red T-shirt clad staff enter your order onto their ipad system. Then you choose your seat and wait for your food to come. Though there is bar seating inside, most people gravitate toward the red umbrella-covered patio. By day, the umbrellas give the space this upbeat, sunny feel. At night, string lights illuminate the space which has been landscaped with lush surrounding foliage, making you feel like you’re in someone’s private backyard.
On the food front, Pak wanted to keep things classic. Instead of the growing gourmet burger trend where everything is just bigger, all of his burgers come with a six-ounce beef patty. You can order them with a single or double patty. The buns are Mrs. Baird’s buns, soft and pliant, with a hint of sweetness.
Where The Burger Joint sets itself apart are with its toppings and ingredients. The beef patties, for instance, are not your ordinary ground chuck or frozen patty. They are freshly ground 44 Farms Angus beef patties, made from a proprietary blend of cuts. Pak says he tested more than six versions, mixing and matching different blends of meat, before choosing the one he uses for its great flavor and juiciness.
Where possible, everything is made from scratch. This includes the house mayo and other condiments; hand-cut, twice fried french fries; special dipping sauces that you can order with your fries, in flavors such as garlic aoili, creamy avocado, and garlic herb; homespun old fashioned milkshakes, and more.
There are 10 burgers on the menu, ranging from a classic burger with just lettuce, tomato, onions, pickle and mayo; to an Opa! Greek-styled lamb burger; to the Smoke Stack, a BBQ-inspired burger topped with choice of pulled pork or chopped brisket, mac ’n cheese, fried egg, slaw and mayo.
We’ve visited twice already, and each time gravitated toward the Kim Chi Burger, perhaps in large part due to the fact that Pak is Korean by descent. The Angus beef patty is marinaded like bulgogi (Korean bbq beef), and topped with caramelized, chopped kim chi, a fried egg, onions, cheddar, lettuce, and garlic mayo. It’s an explosion of flavors and textures in your mouth.
The BBQ burger, which is topped with fried onion rings, barbecue sauce, applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions, and cheddar, is just as impressive, with great crunch from the onion rings and that sweet smoky barbecue flavor that we all know and love.
The menu also includes hot dogs, such as the unforgettable Big Frank, a foot-long beef dog topped with choice of pulled pork or beef brisket, barbecue sauce, and slaw, a selection of sandwiches, and salads.
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And last but not least are the shakes and beer. You can order craft beer on tap, or opt for an old-fashioned style milkshake topped with whip cream and toppings. We recommend the Rocket Fuel, made with 8th Wonder Brewery Rocket Fuel coffee-infused beer, or the Peanut Butter, but you can also get cookies 'n cream, strawberry, chocolate and more depending on your preference.
The Burger Joint is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to midnight, and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. Burgers range from $6 to $10 for single patty burgers. The restaurant is dog-friendly and has bike racks out front, as well as additional parking on Westheimer and Montrose. Full menu and additional information can be found at burgerjointhtx.com.