I've written before about how I prefer my burger with onion rings instead of fries. But truth be told, I would probably pick neither if given a third choice. I understand that restaurants can't offer endless options; however, I think there's room for just one additional "standard" burger accompaniment.
My pick for this third side dish: cheese grits.
Although I enjoy eating a pile of fried onions alongside a delicious greasy burger, at the end of the meal I often feel like oil has replaced the blood in my veins. Cheese grits satisfy my craving for additional starch, tend to be milder in flavor, and keep me warm in those over-air-conditioned dining rooms. I also love how the small specks of cornmeal mingle with the nearly melted cheese -- sort of like baby food for grown-ups. The smooth, easy texture is a wonderful contrast to a burger layered with roughage and richer sauces.
I have swapped onion rings/fries/chips for cheese grits at a number of Houston restaurants, including Zelko Bistro, Beaver's, and Backstreet Café. Sometimes these restaurants charge me extra, sometimes they don't. When they do, it's never much.
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I don't expect cheese grits to be everyone's thing when it comes to sides. I'm curious as to whether others regularly sub in other dishes (mac and cheese? mashed potatoes? creamed spinach?) when they order burgers and which restaurants offer such alternatives. Maybe together we can rally for more options...