Eight Classic Austin Burgers That Rival Whataburger
These local institutions have been around since at least 1968
By Acacia Coronado,
11:20AM, Wed. Feb. 21, 2018
Whataburger’s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit might be worthy of Food & Wine’s recent praises, but there are certainly better burgers in Austin.
Born in Corpus Christi in 1950, the longstanding icon’s bright orange logo stripes are a beacon of familiarity on road trips across Texas, and for years Whataburger has been resting on the laurels of its cult status. (Even our funky city is home to 17 locations.) Those big flattop cheeseburgers are not the only option though, so we’ve rounded up a sampling of classic local spots that have been flipping tasty patties for more than half a century.
The yellow paint at this classic burger shoppe isn’t vintage or hipster – it’s 1946 original. For over 70 years, Sandy’s has stayed true to its time-tested Old Fashioned Burger recipe, as well as the hearty portion size and remarkably low prices. Be sure to chase down each bite with a sip of one of their famous milkshakes with flavors like butterscotch and pineapple.
Specializing in the art of burger making since 1939, Hut’s gives you choices. The beef is purchased locally, and the menu also includes buffalo, longhorn beef, boneless chicken breast, and a vegan burger. From no-frills styles like Mel’s Number 2 – with only mustard, pickles, and onions – to the revved-up Beachboy’s Favorite featuring pineapple, Swiss cheese, and bell peppers, there is a burger for every palate.
It takes consistency and quality to make a burger that resonates with generations of Longhorns for nearly a century. Located close to campus on The Drag (Guadalupe St.), Dirty Martin’s has been serving the same recipe of greasy, classic, homemade-style burgers since it opened its doors in 1926. (Fun fact: The spot was first named Martin’s KumBak, but later changed to reflect its nickname, which was given as an ode to the original dirt floor.)
A living picture of the 1950s, this drugstore, soda shop, and grill looks frozen in time. With old-fashioned booths and a regular supply of handmade food, this beloved diner serves everything from bacon burgers to banana shakes.
Originally opened in 1953 as Night Hawk’s, this burger shop – currently known as Frisco’s – has been feeding Austinites since the Civil Rights Era. It was the first integrated restaurant in Austin. Priding itself on hiring women and minorities from the beginning, this burger joint was also original in that the owner, Harry Akin, raised his own beef. Today, visitors can still enjoy the timeless burgers.
Kenneth Threadgill, a bootlegger with a penchant for country music, waited an entire night in line to be the first beer license owner in the county. He founded Threadgill’s in Austin in 1933, and it’s been a haven for musicians and food lovers ever since. In addition to their delicious Old Fashioned Burger, the big menu features salads, a slew of sides, po'boys, and some mean chicken-fried steak.
This upscale restaurant – complete with roaming peacocks on the grounds – has been serving Austin for more than 60 years on their century-old property. Not only did the founding family feed surrounding families at the Green Pastures during the Great Depression, they practiced equal service since opening in 1946. After last year’s revamp, both the dinner and brunch menus feature their Grassfield Farms beef burger with Irish cheddar, sweet onion dip, and house frites.
Alright, alright, alright. (Sorry.) Featured in Richard Linklater's 1993 film, Dazed and Confused, this throwback still has the original charcoal-grilled burgers and carhop setup they did when they opened in 1971, with a few bonus upgrades. There’s also a tasty veggie patty, killer onion rings, and the ever-popular Weight Watcher Special.
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