Saturday, February 2, 2019

Orderup

January

Returning form a work trip, the Bur-gal picked me up from SAT late on a Saturday night.  We stopped at Orderup in Alamo Heights on the way home for a quick burger date just before they closed.


Service and Setting
Tucked in off Basse road near HEB, it is surrounded by several "good food fast" places - Torchy's, Pei Wei, Sushi Zushi, and Panera.  It's bright and clean.  Order at the counter and listen for your name on the PA.  Counter folks were friendly enough.

Menu
Pizza, Tacos, Burgers.  Some would call it the American dream.  But are they the jack of all trades and master of none?  Well, we are here on some old Thrillist recommendation so the burger has impressed some people.  The menu has a good variety of classics and burger one-offs.  Several fry options, each messier than the last by the time you get to chocolate pig fries (sweet potato fries with Nutella and bacon).  We went with La Bomba and ABC burgers.

Beverage
Soda fountain, simple beer and wine list, and shakes.

Sides
We had kept it simple with a regular side of fries.  In retrospect, I may have wanted to try the something more adventurous like their chipotle chorizo chili cheese fries, but these were still pretty good.  They're served in a cone, Belgian style, which is probably my favorite potato to crisp ratio.  The tables have a clever small circle cut into them which invites you to use as holder and stand for the fries.


Patty
Seemed to be about a third pounder.  100% ground beef, cooked to order.  We ordered medium and it came out beautifully.  Perfect pink center.  Good juice without being too runny.  Perhaps could do with some more seasoning in compared to some of San Antonio's top-tier burgers.

Dress and Bun
The aptly-named ABC burger came with avocado, bacon, cheddar.  I was content with the amount of avocado.  La Bomba has a fried egg, bacon and cheddar.  The egg, much like the burger was appropriately cooked.  Buns were pretty standard white bread.  It tasted fresh enough.  It held on just enough under the toppings burden, but didn't add to the experience.  The lettuce, tomato, and pickle were mediocre.

The Verdict
While I enjoyed the burger, it would be a stretch to say they've mastered it here.  The patty and egg were good, but simply not enough to get excited about when it came to the other aspects of toppings and bun.  I think it a great neighborhood option for a quick burger, and the fries seem to be a good reason to return for further experimentation.  3 Spurs.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Burger Boy

Late November

After a long work day, the Bur-gal and I needed a quick bite of some comfort food to unwind.  We biked on over to bypass a a parade of cars lined up for Burger Boy on St. Mary's.



Service and Setting
With its iconic rotating sign and flashing lights, Burger Boy is the unofficial welcome to the St. Mary's strip (sorry Hi-Tones). It is a bit of a shack serving more of drive-up customers than walk-ins.  There are a few counter seats and some picnic tables outside.  Service has always been attentive.  They are not as fast as McDonald's, but I'd like to think you're getting some extra quality with those couple of minutes.

They have a second location on the west side.

Menu
The menu could fit on both sides of a business card. The burger is ordered by number of patty's. You can add Kraft American cheese, jalapeno's or bacon. Otherwise, they have corn and hot dogs, chicken and fish sandwiches, and a grilled cheese.  Only available side is crinkle-cut fries.

Beverage
No adult beverages. Standard soft drinks. The shake was too tempting to resist.  Nine flavor options for just $2.59.  We went with Oreo.  It really rounded out the experience.

Sides
Crinkle-cut fries may be my least favorite french-fry cut.  Clearly coming out of the freezer and into the fryer, I'm pretty sure they come from the same purveyor as one of my favorite SA burgers, Papa's Burgers.  They are just flavorless.  It feels more like a potato-based product than a french fry.  The crinkle theoretically adds surface area for crisping in the fryer, but I don't think they carry ketchup as well.  Clearly the waffle fry is superior in that regard.  We can debate the finer points of thin-cut, steak, and dutch at a later date.  At risk of alienating readers, I will take a stand on what I'll dub #RetireTheTot with burgers.  Tater tots are a breakfast food at best.

Patty
A thin griddle patty.  Pretty good grease flavor and juiciness.  Perhaps a little low on flavor compared to Chester's and Papa's.  Good but not great.  I think the way all the ingredients gel together on the pallet give it a nice savory experience in the gullet.  Is that gross or appetizing?

Dress and Bun
An extra-buttery bun that is well-proportioned with the rest of the ingredients.  I think the grease stain on the burger wrapper is as much from the bun as it is from the burger.  The rest of the produce is passable.  Kraft cheese also adds a dose of nostalgia.

The Verdict
Burger Boy consistently delivers a good burger experience.  If you are on the St. Mary's strip, it's a great option.  The burger is slightly better than average, but aside from a buttery bun, they don't do much to distinguish themselves.  I almost broke my whole-spur-only rating rule, but ultimately rounded down to a strong 3 Spurs.



Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Maverick


Late November

I have been traveling a bit around Thanksgiving and my SA burger consumption has dwindled.  For that reason, I am honored to post special guest burger review by my trusty burger companion, Geoff.

After my wife and I cooked dinner on Thanksgiving and the day after, the in-laws took us to Maverick for an early Saturday dinner. I had been there twice, but this was my first Maverick Burger experience.

Service and Setting
The layout, furniture and decorations were stylish and comforting. I only questioned the coiled-rope lamp shades. A great pleasure, the dining room acoustics allow you to easily hear everyone at your own table without hearing those at neighboring tables.
The servers were prompt, friendly and helpful. Our waitress even made a Walt Griswold joke, which was appreciated by at least one member of our party.

Menu
One burger, a few pastas, a few fish, several meat options and several small plates. The menu is a combination of dinner plate, a-la-carte and tapas. The burger is $15, and the more sophisticated fare is around $25-35 per person.

Beverage
You will find a few interesting, tasteful cocktails and a few great beers. I am unqualified to comment on the wine list which is a shame because it is probably the best section of the beverage side of the menu.

Sides
The burger came with crispy, thick cut fries. Belgian style frites would have felt appropriate at Maverick, but alas, it was not so.

Patty
I ordered that the burger be cooked medium, and it arrived at the table just shy of well-done. Despite this, the patty was juicy without being too fatty. It had an all-around beef flavor which is missing at other restaurants that go heavy on the grease. I usually find well-done burgers to lack flavor, but the patty was still the star of the show.

Dress and Bun
The lettuce, tomato and onion were fresh and complemented the patty without distracting from it. The bun was a tremendous disappointment. Not fluffy or toasty, likely freezer-burned.

The Verdict
I highly recommend Maverick, but not for the burger. The patty was thick and had great flavor, but it was overcooked. The bun was just plain bad. 3 pickle slices out of 5.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Papa's Burgers

Early November

Papa's has made a couple best burgers lists.  The Bur-gal and I called up our friends Al and Karen who are always willing to make a drive for a good eating experience.  On a chilly November night, we headed to the westside to eat at Papa's.



Service and Setting
The building isn't much to look at from the outside.  In fact, their decorated yellow school buses part of Papa's World Tour catering is more of a distinguishing feature than the building.  I can't pretend that the place doesn't have its idiosyncrasies to say the least.  You walk in to immediately face the ordering counter, but you have to do a 180 so see the menu behind you.  At the counter we were greeted by Papa's proud owner, Robert.  He explained the menu and the house rules.  He was friendly and the pride in his work comes through in the burger experience.  Diners then have to exit out the front door and walk around to the outdoor seating area or through a second door for the attached dining room.  Also, don't forget its cash only.

Menu
In addition to your standard burgers, they have chili, hot dogs, and array of grilled chicken sandwiches.  There are some rare items like the shark tacos along some other tacos.  Burgers are 1/3 pounders and can be dressed in a number of ways including chili, jalapeno, grilled onions, mushrooms and a good selection of cheeses.  Bargain prices with the original hamburger starting at $6.  Dressed up and combining fries and a drink will run $10-12.

Beverage
Canned standard soft drinks along with some bottled Mexican Coke, Root Beers, and ***Jaritos?  BYOB.

Sides
Fries, tots and rings can accompany the burger.  Everyone at the table got fries.  Unfortunately, they were the weakest part of the meal.  Standard crinkle cut that came seasoned with salt and pepper.  They certainly weren't fresh cut, and the seasoning left room for improvement.  Also, they only have ketchup packets which forces one to stop and tear open a new one every third fry to squeeze out another dollop of ketchup.

Patty
One of Papa's house rules is that the first bite is how Papa intended it - seasoned and dressed how he made it in the kitchen.  After that first bite, he condones condiments to be added.  He boasts that 9/10 people will eat the burger without condiments because the flavor is in the seasoning and the meat.  He is absolutely correct.  It was a juicy, delicious, savory, and perfectly seasoned burger.  It left nothing to be desired except another burger.  When I returned to the counter for a second round, he convinced me to order the Machete Chicken sandwich with grilled jalapeƱos.  It too was very good, but I would have rather had another burger.

Dress and Bun
The bun is almost as integral to the success of this burger as the meat.  It is fresh baked and airy with a hint of sweetness like a Hawaiian roll.  It went well with each of the specialty burgers and the extra chicken sandwich ordered at the table.  I had the chili burger with shredded cheese and grilled onions.  I think Robert said that they grill the chili before putting it on the burger for a little extra flavor.  It was lick-your-plate delicious.  The produce on the original burger looks hand picked at HEB that morning, because it was.

The Verdict
Papa's is easily among the best burgers in San Antonio, if not an even wider scope.  They do the basic things right with well-seasoned meat and a good fresh bun, and then put it over the top with unique touches like grilled jalapenos and shark tacos.  This burger is worth driving from out of town to come eat, and I'm sure Papa's is due to father more expansions.  My highest recommendation - 5 Spurs.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Texas Hamburger Company

Texas Hamburger Company
Mid-October

Long-time blog supporter Mike Schwiwirian recommended this spot just north of the med center.
Desperate for a pick-me-up after long morning at work which skipped lunch, I headed to THC to get that burger high.

Service and Setting
I rolled in about 3 on a Saturday, and was surprised to find a pretty busy place.  Standard counter operation with your number called over the PA when the order is ready.  A couple TVs were playing college football games.  It was pretty loud due to the number of people and absence of any decorations that dampen sound. The tables were pretty clean, though condiments were kind of strewn about.

Menu
No surprises.  You can add cheese, chili, bacon, grilled onions, and avocado to the burger.  They do have a few dinner plates with deep fried favorites like chicken fried steak.  For place named THC, they were low on munchies food.

Beverage
They have a soda fountain. No alcohol.  They have shakes, but I didn't see too many on other tables.  The only buzz to catch here comes off the grill.

Sides
The fries looked better than they tasted.  They didn't quite hold their form which left the crisp lacking.  I guess that would make them "dank" in the negative connotation.  Dipping sauces were ketchup and some hot sauces only.

Patty
Patty was pretty thin.  I am surprised the menu does not advertise an add a patty option.  Decent grease factor.  Blends well with the toppings.

Dress and Bun
The bun is white bread that seems like a large version of the regular McDonald's bun. The grilled onions and American cheese together were ooey-gooey goodness.  I was scraping them off the wax paper and eating it with fries.  Real nice thick tomato slices.  Pickles were on par.

The Verdict
THC serves a mediocre griddle burger.  A little low on flavor, and an uninspired bun make this burger a reasonable option if you are in the area.  Despite the acronym, the only thing this place has in common with marijuana is that you won't feel like doing much after consuming it.  I give it a respectable 3 spurs.




Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Fletcher's

Fletcher's
Mid-October

With some out of town guests to entertain, few things beat hanging out at the park of The Pearl with its great food and drink options.  The Bur-gal and I brought Bergman, Seth, and Stacy to the Bottling Plant food court, where 3 burgers, a hotdog, and ramen where consumed.



Service and Setting
Despite being a Wednesday night, The Pearl had its typical high energy.  Kids running through the fountains.  Sound Cream blasting bubble trance.  Southerleigh pop-up bar pouring its best IPAs.  Lots of friendly dogs on walks.  The whole thing is rather idyllic.  Inside the Bottling Plant, one orders and pays at the counter and gets a pager to notify him or her when food is ready.  The tables are clean.  The restrooms are a little inconvenient being outside.

Menu
Bottling Plant is a food court offering not only burgers, but ramen, southern rotisserie, doughnuts, and a healthy concept food counter which I think serves things with kale and quinoa.  Fletcher's does hoity-toity burgers, dogs, fries, and shakes.  Burgers start at just $7.95, with add on cheese and bacon options.  They have specialty and a rotating burgers as well, but we all went with the classic cheese burger.  I added a hot dog since I was hungry.

Beverage
Shakes and cane-sugar sodas are at the counter.   Keep in mind a full bar is immediately opposite Fletchers, as are several other options including Southerleigh's pop-up bar with their microbrews - I think I had a delicious "Lawnchair vampire" IPA with this meal.  Side note: I went to Southerleigh for my birthday last month and asked pretty-please to have the lunch-menu hamburger for dinner; they declined.  I'm not sure if I can review the burger without bias after such a spiteful rejection.  I will continue to enjoy their fine beers however.

Sides
Fries had a pretty good fill of soft potato inside.  Maybe not quite crisp enough for fans of a thinner fry.  It held ketchup well, but I would have appreciated more sauce options.  They have smoked-spicy ketchup, on some of the other burgers.  In retrospect, I should have requested a side to replace the Heinz.

Patty
The burger is a blend of short rib, chuck, and brisket.  They cook it to order appropriately.  It keeps good moisture.  Despite the high pedigree, the table was unanimous that is was a little low on flavor and the texture is off.  I think it comes down to too fine of a grind in the meat, so you end up with kind of a smooth texture instead of a crumbling one.

Dress and Bun
Served on a very nice brioche but what did a good job keeping a reasonably messy burger in line.  I'm not sure I could pick Fletcher's sauce out of a line up - it seemed a bit timid.  I have no qualms with the produce.  The American cheese and pickles were good.

Bonus hotdog review:  I liked the dog significantly more than the burger. An Akaushi Texas 100% beef dog on a brioche bun with crispy onions were delicious.  It even pleases my Chicago-hotdog-trained palate.

The Verdict
The Pearl really is the gemstone of San Antonio's oyster.  The dining, drinking, activities and atmosphere are as high a density as anywhere in the city.  Fletcher's serves a decent burger in an excellent setting.  If you're in the area and in the mood, go for it.  It certainly is a better value than JAZZ TX.  Cured and Southerleigh have good options, but only available on lunch/brunch menus.  Fletcher's classic burger earns a respectable 3 spurs.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Rebelle

Early October

The Bur-gal had a conference downtown over weekend.  Feeling fancy on a Friday night, we went with some of her co-workers to the beautiful St. Anthony's Hotel to eat from the new menu at Rebelle.  Eric, Gina, and Angela joined George the alligator and us for dinner.


Service and Setting
The best I can do to describe the ambience is "Teen-Vampire Homecoming."  One is greeted at the entrance by a full-size, disco-ball-mirrored lion.  The dining area is dimly lit with some neon-blue hues, and several chromed-out table decorations (we had a 2 ft long alligator named George).  I used a thesaurus to find the word 'tawdry' because it sounds like a classier way to say 'tacky.'  Service was knowledgable and hospitable.

Menu
The new menu aspires to be a top seafood restaurant in San Antonio.  Oysters, ceviche, octopus, and beef tartare for shareable starters, backed by hearty potions of different gulf fish and shellfish.  They do serve several chops, which emboldened my choice to order a burger.  I was not going to miss out on the seafood, so we asked for the burger to be divided into quarters and served as an appetizer.  Prices are in line with other high-end restaurants.

Beverage
They have a hefty list of house cocktails with a variety of flavors.  Most of the group was happy with their drinks.  I do not often peruse wine lists, so my best guess is that this one is on par with other hoity-toity restaurants.

Sides
The burger comes with cottage fries. They were under (or perhaps un-) seasoned.  Texture was a bit off.  They were not very good.   The other shareable sides on the menu are not necessarily designed around the burger.  They ranged from salty and mediocre potato dishes to rather interesting and delicious in the case of what can only be described as space-spinach.

Patty
The patty had tasty, good-quality beef cooked appropriately to enjoy the flavor.  I suppose a victim of the upscale, circumstance, juices are kept to a minimum.  Overall, it was probably the strongest feature of the burger.

Dress and Bun
Fontina cheese left a wonderful goo trail from the serving plate to mine.  While it added some savory quality, the fontina flavor did not match well.  The bun was unremarkable.  The produce was bright and fresh.  The pickles were closer to their pre-evolved cucumber state than brined.  The bacon added an additional salty crisp, but would not say it was a cut above.  It was cryptic from the itemized bill, but I think they up-charged us like $7 to add bacon and avocado at the server's suggestion.  That made me finish the meal with a groan.  If that was the case, I would recommend skipping it entirely for what started as an $18 burger.

Gina’s take: "The potato side was too starchy for me."

The Verdict
The new menu gives a good downtown option for seafood among innumerable steak restaurants.  That said, the burger is below average compared to the rest of menu we sampled.  This good-not-great burger earns 3 spurs.