The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

By Gerald E. McLeod, October 22, 2010, Columns

The Andice General Store, in downtown Andice, serves a darn good hamburger. For some reason, big, messy burgers just seem to taste better when they're eaten in the country.

The entire metro area of the community in northwestern Williamson County is made up of a smattering of houses, three churches, and the general store. Without an official count, I would hazard a guess that the livestock in Andice outnumber humans by about 3-to-1.

Obviously, most of Alan Thomas' customers come from out of town. On a Saturday afternoon, it's not uncommon to see the line to the counter snake out the front door and find the picnic tables, both inside and out, nearly all full. Build a better burger, and folks will come. Most other days are not quite so crowded.

You can buy a cheaper burger, but you'll have a hard time finding a better burger. Thomas learned the trade by working in the food and beverage industry around Austin for many years before he bought the general store nine years ago. In fact, his first job was at the McDonald's at Barton Springs Road and Lamar Boulevard in Austin.

When Thomas found the store, it already had a short-order grill, but the building was in rough condition. The roof leaked, and the floor was nearly worn through. The building went up in 1930, the year before Andice reached its peak population of 200. "For the most part, the whole building had to be rebuilt except the front wall," Thomas said.

The general store is still very much a store, even with the smell of frying beef patties and onions seeping out of the back room. The shelves along the walls have all of the emergency staples – including hot sauce, diapers, and corn chips – to save someone the long drive into the city.

When the store first opened, selling groceries paid the bills, Thomas said. It took some trial and error before he hit on the right combination of ingredients to make a burger that would transform the general store into a destination stop. According to Thomas, the secrets of a good hamburger are fresh ingredients, good beef with no fillers (never frozen), and proper preparation.

"Over the years we've learned what works, and I believe we'll stick with it," Thomas says.

The Andice General Store is about two miles east of Highway 183 at the junction of FM 970 and FM 2338. Many of Thomas' customers find him while exploring the scenic back roads in the area.

In addition to the hamburgers, the menu includes pulled pork, smoked brisket, and big, juicy onion rings. The store also sells beer and wine to go, which is kind of a disappointment because you can't drink it on the premises. The grill is open seven days a week from 11am to 6:45pm. To place an order, call 254/793-3971.

1,006th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips" 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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