The Sonoma Burger and Salted Caramel Duck Fat Fries at The Burger Guys

I am happily burger-obsessed. I crave them, I find them, I eat them, and I enjoy them. I repeat this process regularly, and last week, the process led me to what has got to be one of Houston's best burger joints, The Burger Guys. If you haven't heard of them before, check out Katharine Shilcutt's review about these "Gourmet Guys" this past December and the slideshow showcasing what they do. It's pretty amazing.

Since they opened last June, they've acquired quite a following, and if you follow them on Facebook and Twitter like I do, they are constantly posting these mouth-watering photos to whet your appetite. The recent photo that had me plotting a trek to their doors was the Flaming Hot Cheeto Hollandaise Burger topped with an egg, shown oozing with hot cheddar cheese and spicy red Cheetos. Pure torture when you're hungry.

I'd had The Burger Guys before, but hadn't been that adventurous, ordering their staple Houston Burger with bacon onion jam. On this visit, I was determined to order something different, and to help me decide, I canvassed the room and asked a few people in line for their favorites. Most were regulars who had tried most of the burgers.

"You have to get the salted caramel duck fat fries," said a generous guy as he offered me one to sample. "Dip the french fry into the salted caramel at the bottom of the basket," he instructed as I tentatively took a nibble. I tell you, taking a bite of that french fry was a revelation. It was a serious "oh-my-GAWD" moment, as in OMG-how-on-earth-had-I-never-tried-it-before? Sweet and salty, the crispy fried dessert-like french fry was everything right rolled into a crispy stick.

In fact, the fries were so good they almost overshadowed the burger I ended up ordering. The Sonoma Burger, with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar, avocado, arugula and aoili, was the resounding favorite among guests I questioned, bringing one of the couples I talked to from as far as Corpus Christi for a taste. "I've been here two times already," said the man from Corpus Christi, who said he follows The Burger Guys on Facebook. "They make burgers there, but not like burgers here at The Burger Guys."

As expected when a Cordon Bleu-trained chef like Burger Guys owner Jake Mazzu is overseeing the kitchen line, the trademark medium-rare Akaushi beef patty had a crispy brown sear on the outside, sealing in the juiciness and flavor of the well-seasoned patty. The aoili, which, like the other condiments, is house-made, gave it a nice garlicky kick, while the smeared avocado softened the flavor. Applewood smoked bacon and hot, just-out-of-the-oven, melted cheddar cheese completed the fantastic and understandably popular burger.

I must not forget to mention the stellar salted caramel milkshake with chunks of real ice cream in it, which rounded off a wholly satisfying meal. It's an experience so memorable, it's well worth the drive, and it's one which I plan to repeat again very soon.

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