Celebrate National Cheeseburger Day with some of Austin’s best burgers

It’s National Cheeseburger Day in ‘Merica. Now, I just turned in my annual dining guide and am hitting the reset button with a juice cleanse, so I hate National Cheeseburger Day this year. However, in honor of this most magnificent fake holiday, I’m re-posting my Best Hamburgers in Austin list from 2015. I’m just posting them in alphabetical order below; so if you want the juicy descriptions of all of them, go read the original story for my rationale and beautiful adjectives and thrilling verbs.

The burger at Odd Duck. (Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
07/23/15 Laura Skelding/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Dining Guide: Matthew Odam’s Top 25 restaurants in Austin. The green tomato hamburger at Odd Duck.
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Obviously, the original list is a little bit dated. Some of these might not be on my list now, and others would be. I haven’t had time to revisit them all, and the dozens (hundreds?) of places in Austin that serve burgers, but I am going to go ahead and throw in some more favorites from my last few years of dining. The new additions you see below would make the updated list, which I may or may not be currently researching. If you don’t see your favorite, tell me what a dummy I am in the comments section. (I know there are some I must still try. Looking at you, L’Oca d’Oro brunch burger.) Happy National Cheeseburger Day, you animals.

New additions (alphabetically):

Brewer’s Table, Cafe No Se, Casino El Camino, Dai DueDelray Cafe, Garbo’s, Holy RollerJune’s All Day Soursop

2015 List

Six classic burgers for about $6 (alphabetically)

Best veggie burgers

 

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How does Hopdoddy’s new ‘bleeding’ vegan burger from Impossible Foods taste?

Earlier this summer, Hopdoddy jumped aboard the Impossible Burger movement, becoming one of only two Texas restaurant groups to serve the vegan burger brought to market in 2016 by Stanford University biochemistry professor emeritus Dr. Patrick Brown.

The marketing behind the Impossible Burger was strong, with the brand trumpeting that the long-awaited vegan answer to a beef burger actually “bleeds” like a burger, with the red coloring coming from heme, the same molecule that carries oxygen in your blood. Countless websites picked up the “bleeding” language and bloggers ran to Instagram free samples.

The Impossible Burger at Hopdoddy. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

We got around to eating one last week at the Triangle location of Hopdoddy, following a few failed attempts to order the sold-out burger at the South Congress location.

So, two big questions: 1) How does it taste? 2) Does it really “bleed”?

In short: 1) It’s ok. 2) Ours didn’t.

The biggest tasting note from the burger was the umami flavor of fried shiitake mushrooms, though mushrooms aren’t actually used in the beef. The patty had a bit of beefy crumble to it, but the inside, while a little pinkish in coloring, certainly didn’t “bleed” at all. The oddest part of the burger was the texture. The juicy $14 burger had something between a crunch and a plastic snap to it, with a faint chemical aftertaste. Asked by our server if we would order it again, my friend took the words out of my mouth: “Yes … if I was a vegetarian.”

The Impossible Burger and its parent company Impossible Foods came under some heat yesterday when the New York Times reported that the Food and Drug Administration has yet to confirm that the star ingredient heme, made with soy leghemoglobin, is safe to eat. Impossible describes heme thusly: “Exceptionally abundant in animal muscle — and it’s a basic building block of life in all organisms, including plants. We discovered how to take heme from plants and produce it using fermentation — similar to the method that’s been used to make Belgian beer for nearly a thousand years. Adding heme to the Impossible Burger makes it a carnivore’s delight.”

But the FDA is saying to pump the brakes on the excitement.

From the New York Times article:

Now, its secret sauce — soy leghemoglobin, a substance found in nature in the roots of soybean plants that the company makes in its laboratory — has raised regulatory questions.

Impossible Foods wants the Food and Drug Administration to confirm that the ingredient is safe to eat. But the agency has expressed concern that it has never been consumed by humans and may be an allergen, according to documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request by the ETC Group as well as other environmental and consumer organizations and shared with The New York Times.

Impossible Foods bit back, telling Eater.com that it had done several studies with rats that proved the safety of the ingredient.

The article fails to detail the extensive safety testing and investigation that the Impossible Burger and its key ingredient, soy leghemoglobin, have undergone. In particular, a panel of food safety experts from three universities has agreed multiple times that the product is safe.

In addition, Impossible Foods provided the reporter with details about a rat feeding study in which rats consumed the equivalent of more than 200 times the amount of heme, in the form of soy leghemoglobin, that the average American consumes daily from ground beef. In addition to daily observations of overall health, growth and behavior, a meticulous examination of every organ found no evidence of any adverse effect from even massive overconsumption of soy leghemoglobin — yet these results were not mentioned in the article.

As the Times points out, the rush of a Silicon-valley backed food product rushing to market the way it might with an app was bound to run into some difficulty when faced with the staggering bureaucracy of the federal government.

For their part, Hopdoddy says it has no qualms with the innovative product.

“We are proud to serve the highest quality proteins and ingredients at Hopdoddy, including the Impossible Burger,” said Mark Adair, vice president of food and beverage at Hopdoddy Burger Bar. “Our guests’ health and safety is top priority. We researched the hell out of the Impossible Meat before adding it to our menu, and we have absolutely no reason to believe it is unsafe.”

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You can now get a vegan burger at Hopdoddy locations across Texas

The plant-based Impossible Burger has been making waves around the country. The vegan burger brought to market in 2016 by Stanford University biochemistry professor emeritus Dr. Patrick Brown has been trumpeted by some as the long-awaited vegan answer to a beef burger — a patty with the texture of meat that also “bleeds” like a burger.

Parent company Impossible Foods has teamed with chefs around the country, and the burger has landed on menus at David Chang’s Momofuku family of restaurants and on fellow James Beard winner Chris Shepherd’s Hay Merchant and Underbelly menus. Now the burger is available in Austin.

All Texas locations of Hopdoddy put the burger on their menus today at a price point of $14. The Hopddy version  will be served with Tillamook cheddar (making it decidedly non-vegan), green leaf lettuce, white onion, tomatoes and its signature “Sassy Sauce” on a brioche bun, though the burger can also be served on a whole wheat bun and without cheese for an entirely plant-based option.

The Impossible Burger.

So, what goes into an Impossible Burger? Well, wheat and potato proteins give the burger chew and nutrition; heme, the same molecule that carries oxygen in your blood, makes it red; and the fat comes from coconut oil.

Impossible Foods claims that when you trade out beef for an Impossible Burger, one quarter-pound burger saves the water equivalent to a 10-minute shower, 18 driving miles of greenhouse gases, and spares 75-square-feet of land.

“We are proud to partner with a brand that aligns perfectly with the pillars that Hopdoddy was founded on: a unique and honest product made the right way, with the freshest and best available ingredients. These pillars allow us to serve the highest quality burger in terms of flavor, health and sustainability,” Jeff Chandler, CEO of Hopdoddy Burger Bar said. “Impossible Burger exceeds our highest standards and makes a great addition to our menu and our brand — and we’re excited to share it with Texas’ Hopdoddy fanatics.”

Houston Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook recently tried one in Houston and was not impressed. I’ll go buy one soon, after the frenzy dies from the media event where free burgers are being given out and undoubtedly Instagrammed today, and get back to you with my thoughts.  

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Celebrate National Hamburger Day with the best burgers in Austin

National Hamburger Day (I’ll save you a click, you don’t get a day off of work or anything) is Sunday. In honor of this most magnificent fake holiday, I’m re-posting my Best Hamburgers in Austin list from 2015. I’m just posting them in numerical order here; if you want the juicy goodness on all of them, go read the original story for my rationale and beautiful adjectives and thrilling verbs.

Obviously, this list is a little bit dated. Some of these wouldn’t be on my list now, and others would be. I haven’t had time to revisit them all, and the dozens (hundreds?) of places in Austin that serve burgers, but I am going to go ahead and throw in a few extra from my last two years of dining. The new additions you see below would make the updated list, which I may or may not be currently researching. If you don’t see your favorite, tell me what a dummy I am in the comments section. (I know there are some I must still try. Looking at you, L’Oca d’Oro brunch burger.) Happy National Burger Day.

The burger at Odd Duck. (Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
07/23/15 Laura Skelding/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Dining Guide: Matthew Odam’s Top 25 restaurants in Austin. The green tomato hamburger at Odd Duck.
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New editions first (alphabetically):

Cafe No Se, Casino El Camino, Dai Due, Garbo’sJune’s All Day, The Townsend

2015 List

  1. Odd Duck. 1201 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-433-6521, oddduckaustin.com
  1. Hopfields. 3110 Guadalupe St. 512-537-0467, hopfieldsaustin.com
  1. Second Bar + Kitchen. 200 Congress Ave. 512-827-2750, secondbarkitchen.com
  1. Jeffrey’s. 1204 W. Lynn St. 512-477-5584, jeffreysofaustin.com
  1. Launderette. 2115 Holly St. 512-382-1599, launderetteaustin.com
  1. Clark’s. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-297-2525, clarksoysterbar.com
  1. Luke’s Inside Out. 1109 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-589-8883, lukesinsideout.com
  1. Swift’s Attic. 315 Congress Ave. 512-482-8842, swiftsattic.com
  1. Black Star Co-Op. 7020 Easy Wind Drive. 512-452-2337, blackstar.coop
  1. Henri’s (now closed)
  2. Parkside. 301 E. Sixth St. 512-474-9898, parkside-austin.com
  1. Contigo. 2027 Anchor Lane. 512-614-2260, contigotexas.com/austin
  1. Jacoby’s Restaurant and Mercantile. 3235 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-366-5808, jacobysaustin.com
  1. Drink Well. 207 E. 53rd St. 512-614-6683, drinkwellaustin.com
  1. Salt & Time. 1912 E. Seventh St. 512-524-1383, saltandtime.com

 

Six classic burgers for about $6 (alphabetically)

Crown and Anchor. 2911 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-322-9168, crownandanchorpub.com

Dan’s Hamburgers. Four locations in the greater Austin area. danshamburgers.com

Lebowski’s Grill at Highland Lanes. 8909 Burnet Road. 512-419-7166, highlandlanes.com/lebowskis-grill

Nau’s Enfield Drug. 1115 W. Lynn St. 512-476-3663, nausdrug.com

P. Terry’s. Multiple locations. pterrys.com

Top Notch. 7525 Burnet Road. 512-452-2181, topnotchaustin.com

Best veggie burger

Veggie Royale at Bouldin Creek Café. 1900 S. First St. 512-416-1601, bouldincreek.com

Honorable mention veggie burger

Arlo’s. Multiple locations. arlostruck.com

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Two Austin burgers make list of 100 best in America

I don’t know Kevin Alexander, but I have to hand it to the guy. Dude puts in work. He visited 30 cities in one year to compile a list of the 100 Best Burgers in America for Thrillist.com. And he didn’t just go with the obvious choices, or PR-championed restaurants. There are some deep cuts here.

Plancha burger and frittes at Launderette. (Giant Noise)

As someone who researches and writes his own lists (and one big Dining Guide) each year, looking at the amount of work that went into this makes me exhausted, and a little queasy. Of course, any great burger list must include strong representation from Texas. And while there are nine from the Lone Star State, only two from Austin made it in: the Royale with Cheese at Justine’s (#61) and the Plancha Burger at Launderette (#31). The burger critic actually picked five from Dallas, including the sixth-ranked The Ozersky Burger (named after late, great food writer Josh Ozersky) at John Tesar’s Knife in Dallas. For his complete list of the best burgers in America, click here.

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