Krystal Hamburgers: The Sliders of the South

The last time I ate a Krystal hamburger was in my freshman year at UT. There was a Krystal across the street from my off-campus dorm. The place was open 24 hours and I dimly remember stumbling in there while slightly inebriated at three in the morning and stuffing my face.

Founded in Chattanooga in 1932, Krystal has always served the same sort of tiny burgers that White Castle made famous under the name of “sliders.” The Krystal chain went bankrupt in the late 1990s. After the bankruptcy, the new owners reinvented the brand.

These days they are mining the 24/7 hours and their reputation as the White Castle of the South to appeal to the Harold and Kumar set. Check out their Facebook page and their Web site. All new locations, including the one in Houston, offer free Wifi.

When the Houston location (1612 FM 1960 W.) opened in 2004, there were long lines at the drive-through window, but the novelty has worn off by now. I stopped by the other day and sampled the standard order: four hamburgers, fries and a drink for just under five bucks. The burgers came in cute little boxes--but there sure wasn’t much meat to them.

Photos by Robb Walsh

I also bought a sack of ten Krystal burgers to take home. Believe it or not, I liked the leftover burgers after they sat in the fridge for a while better than the fresh ones. All weekend, I would throw one in the microwave every time I got the munchies, then I’d spread a big glob of mayo on the reheated slider and wolf it in two bites.

The little buggers tasted awesome with a cold beer and even better with a bourbon and ginger ale--or maybe I was just having a flavor flashback to my college years. -- Robb Walsh

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