Just off the Runway

Cantwell Burgers

5310 Airport Blvd., 459-9609

M-Sat, 8am-8pm; closed Sunday

Airport Haven Hamburgers

Airport at 6801 Guadalupe, 459-6859

M-Sat, 10:30am-10pm; closed Sunday

Holiday House #4

5325 Airport Blvd., 452-3136

Daily 11am-9pm

Despite such pleasant aberrations as Quality Seafood and Tamale House #3, Airport is really a boulevard of hamburger wishes and chicken-fried dreams. You can't drive under the flightpath on Airport for more than 30 seconds without passing some newfangled hamburger emporium trying to beat out the big guys.

Our latest challenger is Cantwell Burgers, an operation that just moved into the double drive-thru previously occupied in quick succession by The Healthy Habit, Boogie's Burgers (I'm not making this up), and Bud's Burgers. Cantwell's tastebud-wetting slogan is "You can't well live without a Cantwell Burger," and I'd have to concur. Their liberally sized burgers have a distinct, homemade taste that falls somewhere between Dirty's and Whataburger. The skins-on fries are a treat you wouldn't expect from a double drive-thru, and the truly adventurous can do battle with a meat loaf/mayo sandwich and butterscotch milkshake.

Further on up the road, Airport Haven Hamburgers (est. 1953) supplements their burger offerings with a $3.99 Monday-Thursday lunch special that is bland-yet-palatable in the finest employee cafeteria style. The specials are all of the meat 'n' potatoes variety, including chicken-fried steak, meat loaf, and roast beef. The plates come with two vegetables and a nice piece of Texas Toast to sop up your drippings. Though my chicken-fried steak was shaped suspiciously like South America, after eating my way down to Tierra del Fuego, I decided I had at least consumed my money's worth in sheer food volume. Another plus for Airport Haven is the tall booths and planters that seclude you from the petty whines of fellow diners. If you're in the area, this place is perfect for a secret noontime tryst or arms-for-hostages exchange.

If you're still jonesing for chicken-fried bargains later in the day, you can head on down to the venerable Holiday House, where yet another chicken-fried steak plate with fries and salad can be had for a mere $2.49, after 4pm weekdays and all day on the weekends. Such a great deal easily knocks the gravy out of Dairy Queen's Country Basket. A wide variety of "flame-kissed" hamburgers is also available. The Airport Holiday House is easily one of the funkiest-looking edifices in town, and the seafaring decor inside is a marvel to behold. Between that and the roaring thunder of 737s making their final approach, Holiday House is a glorious way to conclude your greasy tour of Airport Blvd.'s hamburger heaven.
-- Greg Beets

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