My First Taste of Guru Burgers

My first taste of Guru Burgers wasn't perfect. For me, the Ukulele Burger, which I thought would taste like a Hawaiian burger, was a bit underseasoned. I would have liked it with some teriyaki sauce, and will know to ask for it next time.

But one element made up for everything. It wasn't the fluffy, perfectly formed, sunny-side up egg perched on top of the burger, though the runny yolk did contribute to the overall juiciness of the burger. Nor was it the thin slab of freshly grilled pineapple that made the burger, though the tanginess of that sliver of fruit added an interesting layer of flavor. It wasn't the slice of Texas pecan-smoked ham, either, which was very mild. It was the bun that got me.

They called it a "Twist Roll," and there's definitely a twist at the top. But it was the consistency -- soft, dense, moist and delicate like a Hawaiian bread -- that took my burger over the top and into the realm of disgustingly good burgers.

Okay, so part of what made it so good was the juiciness of the six-ounce grass-fed Akaushi patty, grilled to my specified temperature of medium-rare so that a squeeze of the bun caused the juices to bubble on the edge of the meat. Impressive, indeed. But even more impressive was how, as I held the burger between my hands, the air seeped out of the bun so that it was somewhat smashed yet still so tasty. The bun didn't overpower the ingredients inside, but showcased the ingredients so that everything blended together into a tasty whole.

I will crave this burger.

Burger aside, my dining companion's Hot Chick beer-battered chicken sandwich was also a revelation. Doused in spicy sauce, the chicken was covered in an exceedingly light, crispy batter that reminded me of Korean fried chicken, except with Buffalo Hot Wings flavor. With the same twist bun, citrus aioli and rings of sweet red onion, the crispy chicken sandwich was a knockout as well.

Also amazing were the sweet potato fries, thin-cut fries that were delicately crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside without being too hard or too oily. Think of the lightest beignet, and that's the sort of texture you got from those sweet potato fries. They were genius.

Everything was so perfect on my first visit that I went back again within a few days. Our second visit wasn't quite as successful, however. I made the mistake of ordering a special off of the chalkboard menu, the King Burger, which I was told had been created in honor of Elvis Presley.

It sounded interesting enough, topped with Texas pecan-smoked bacon with peanut butter and jelly, but the flavors weren't quite right for me, and the burger itself, compared to the others floating around the restaurant, didn't look that appetizing.

It looked smaller that the other burgers, and just had this sort of dry, unexciting, flat look because it didn't come with the lettuce and tomato. Tastewise, the peanut butter overpowered the burger and dried out the palate, taking away from the juiciness of the patty and giving the burger this dry taste. I asked for lettuce and tomato on the side, but their addition couldn't save the King Burger, which for me was a bust.

Thankfully, our Hot Chick was a success, just like we remembered, and the sweet potato fries were just as delicious as the first time we tasted them. Not so good was the caprese salad, made with cherry tomatoes skewered next to bits of mozzarella and drizzled with truffle oil and balsamic. The truffle oil/balsamic/tomato combination did not work. The flavors just clashed, the truffle oil dampening the freshness of the tomato flavor and giving it a sort of rancid aftertaste.

So, my second visit wasn't as successful as the first. I wish it had turned out differently, but it doesn't really sway my opinion of Guru Burgers, which remains high. They say that first impressions are the most important, and my first burger at Guru was such a standout that I have no doubt I'll be visiting again soon, if not for one of their burgers (I'll be less adventurous next time), then definitely for one of their Hot Chicks.

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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham