Despite the rising popularity of vegetarian fare, there’s still a large and enthusiastic contingent of hamburger lovers in Austin. Some may demand humanely raised organic meat or fancy grass-fed Wagyu burgers, but they still want that juicy beef. Here are some of the best places in Austin to satisfy your burger craving.
After undergoing a major remodel, Dan’s Hamburger’s south Austin location has a groovy ’50s vibe complete with multicolored tile, booths and chrome-trimmed tables. For lone diners, there’s a roomy counter in the back. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this location, at the busy Manchaca/71 intersection, is that business is still booming even though it's surrounded by several national chain restaurants. During rush-hour traffic, it can be harrowing to get into and out of the parking lot. To get to the drive-through, your best bet is to access it from Manchaca, not 71. The certified Angus beef burgers come in three sizes, and the all-the-way version is heavy on the mustard and the onions. While the standard burger is excellent, do yourself a favor and try the jalapeño burger with thick-cut bacon.
A longtime neighborhood favorite in north-central Austin, Top Notch was featured in a scene in "Dazed and Confused" way back when. Its enduring appeal is built around charcoal-fired burgers and speedy, friendly service. You can eat inside or get good old-fashioned curb service. The distinctive sign and the decor haven’t changed much over the years, adding to the charm of the place. The double-meat Longhorn Special is a crowd favorite with a distinctive flavor that can only be created by cooking meat over charcoal. The onion rings are also excellent.
You might have low expectations for a cheeseburger served at a dive bar on 6th Street, but Casino El Camino has consistently earned top-burger awards for over a decade. The bar’s buffalo burger is covered in both bleu cheese and hot wing sauce, which sounds like something only a drunk person could love, but the spicy tang appeals to just about everyone.
If you’re a fan of grass-fed beef, Wholly Cow Burgers is the spot for you. Don’t be scared away by the fact that this is a gourmet burger joint inside a convenience store. Step inside, and the smells will convince you to stick around. Served on a mildly sweet potato bun, the Heavenly Double with cheese with sweet potato fries will leave you deeply satisfied. The store also has a large selection of kombucha, beer and wine.
Housed inside the Westgate Lanes Bowling Alley, Lebowski’s Grill is known for, of course, The Dude. This fairly simple 1/3-pound burger is made with Angus beef and topped with standard fixin’s. The Walter is also popular and a good choice if you’re extremely hungry. It’s basically The Dude with twice the meat and cheese. If you think this place appeals only to bowlers and fans of "The Big Lebowski," think again. Many neighborhood regulars who don’t bowl at all come here just for the tasty burgers and tots.
Hopdoddy uses hormone-free beef ground on site to make incredibly juicy burgers. Truffle fries and shakes are also top-notch. The line is often long, but you can order a drink while you wait. The crowds have only grown larger in the last few months since Hopdoddy added the meat-free Impossible Burger to its menu.
Odd Duck’s burgers earn rave reviews consistently even though the ingredients are actually fairly inconsistent. The commitment to local sourcing means that the precise ingredients in the burger change with the seasons and the whims of the chef, but it’s always a fine burger. It’s often served with green chile mayo and topped with arugula. You can expect to pay a little more for this artisanal creation, but most agree that it’s worth every penny.
The crowd-pleasing Counter Burger is made with grass-fed beef, topped with sharp cheddar and served on a sweet sourdough bun. For your side, opt for the sweet potato fries. It’s also a popular breakfast place, with an excellent crab cake Benedict and pancakes.
Goodall’s Black Angus beef burger comes on a puffy challah bun with bacon marmalade. This is an excellent date place if one of you wants a burger and the other wants high-end seafood. The clams and scallops routinely earn rave reviews. The restaurant is located inside the lovely Hotel Ella, a renovated turn-of-the century mansion.
Come for the beer, stay for the burger. The Black Star Burger is topped with cheddar cheese and beer mustard, and the meat is actually a brisket patty, so it’s sort of like having barbecue and a burger all in one. Also, since it’s a co-op, and all the employees own a stake in the business, Black Star has a no-tipping policy.
Located in the northern suburb of Leander, Sharks Burger is known for its double-meat Angus burgers served on a soft, buttery brioche bun. Every bite is another adventure in taste and texture, with crisp lettuce, fresh but firm tomatoes and crunchy pickles. The Great White Cheddar Bacon Burger will satisfy even the heartiest appetites. The sharp white cheddar and bacon strips are excellent complement to the freshly seared patties.
A super-casual neighborhood bar-and-grill, Phil’s Ice House celebrates Austin by naming its burgers after various neighborhoods around town. Ironically, the 78704 is the most popular even though it’s named for the much hipper neighborhood to the south. The 78704 is packed with spiciness, including Monterey jack cheese, jalapeños, chipotle mayo, avocado and a toasted jalapeño cheese bun. The fries come standard with a mix of sweet potato and regular fries.