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.
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...
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.