Dirty Martin's Place
2808 Guadalupe, 477-3173
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm
Juicy, simple and perfect -- Dirty's defines the Austin dive burger and generations of UT students know the white frame drive-in for its simple menu of griddled burgers, Russet fries, and hand-breaded onion rings. Any seat at the counter gives you a perfect view of the burgers frying and buns grilling alongside the basic recipe for burger perfection.
Waterloo Ice House
West Sixth & Lamar, 472-5400; 1106 W. 38th, 451-5245;
8600 Burnet, 450-0480
Waterloo has been the home of our burger choices for many years because the burgers are fresh, juicy, and kinda messy to eat, just the way we like them. We're also exceedingly partial to the Waterloo onion rings, delicious, hand-breaded wonders that they are.
Nau's Enfield Drug
1115 W. Lynn, 476-1221
Mon-Fri, 7:30am-4:30pm; Sat, 7:30am-2:30pm
Choose either a small ($1.95) or large ($2.75) burger, cooked on the griddle and dressed with lettuce, tomato, and white onion. Each is sweet with mayo and sticky with a single piece of cheese, and all are wondrously juicy. Don't go here with anyone you need to impress; trying to stay clean during the drippy splendor of a Nau's burger simply wouldn't be worth it.
2425 Exposition, 478-2652; 5201 Airport, 452-3136
Airport: Daily, 10:30am-9:30pm
Expo: Daily, 6:30am-9:30pm
Flame-kissed and floppy, Holiday House's signature cheeseburger stand up to its reputation as an old-fashioned burger of the drugstore variety. The patty comes topped with a mound of grated cheese, a slew of diced white onions, and the requisite tomato and pickle rounds wedged between Frisbee-sized soft buns. We like the new Airport location with the convenient drive-thru, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that the venerable Tarrytown neighborhood hangout doesn't lose its lease to an animal-rights activist when it comes up for renewal in the new millennium.
5240 Airport, 453-8772
Burger Tex keeps its priorities squarely on the griddle where they belong. Patties are substantial and not overcooked, buns are baked fresh on the premises every day. The condiment bar can be hit-or-miss, but the quality of the burger itself stands on its own.
618 W. Sixth, 472-2037
All flavors, even that of the salty, savory half-pound burger, yield to the blast of caraway seed in the lightly buttered rye toast holding this patty-melt together. Ordinary condiments prove superfluous; the flavor is already big enough and the slices of American cheese on each side of the meat ensure moisture. A dill pickle wedge, some spicy grilled onions, and fries round out the $5.95 platter.
409 W. 30th, 477-2935; 8800 Burnet, 454-1474;
4141 S. Capital of Texas Hwy, 326-9899
Mon-Thu, 7am-midnight; Fri, 7am-2am;
Sat, 8am-2am; Sun, 8am-midnight
The beautiful, open-faced burgers here are so big and so pleasing, you can't do them justice if you fill up on Trudy's award-winning hot sauce and chips, so pace yourself. The substantial buns (regular, whole grain, or onion roll) are buttered and grilled, the better to hold the half-pound patty, cooked to your specifications. Then add fresh fixin's, the cheese of your choice, spicy chipotle mayo and/or stone ground mustard, and plenty of thick, crisp bacon. Don't be ashamed to ask for extra napkins; they'll be necessary.
3303 N. Lamar, 452-2317; 5340 Cameron, 371-3717
Mon-Fri, 7am-10pm, Sat-Sun, 10am-10pm
The burgers at this local chain are consistently superior and popularly priced. Whole grain buns hold thick, juicy beef patties, the leaf lettuce is fresh, the cheese is melted just right, and the bacon is crisp -- burger heaven. Fresh-cut fries, lacy, hand-breaded onion rings, and killer shakes will remind you what burger joints were like before Big Macs.
4024 S. Lamar, 444-8202; 2700 W. Anderson, 458-6268
The atmosphere may be a little bright and sterile, but the important items like buns and fresh-ground, hand-formed patties are made fresh daily. Burgers are cooked precisely to order and the condiment bar has every manner of fixin' imaginable ready to go: lettuce, tomatoes, dill pickles, sweet relish, chopped onions, sliced onions, pico de gallo, hot sauce, melted cheese, jalape–o cheese, and barbecue sauce. You really can have it your own way.
7525 Burnet, 452-2181
Curbside service and the "special sauce" are the noteworthy aspects of the Top Notch experience. They smear Thousand Island dressing on both sides of a plain, non-toasted roll. The large, hand-formed, charbroiled patty is enhanced by good quality lettuce and tomatoes, plus tangy dill slices that work in concert with the sweet dressing for an all-around good burger.
Coach's B-B-Q & Burgers
13215 Research, 331-8531
Mon-Fri, 11am-9:30pm; Sat-Sun, noon-10:30pm
Try the "Rookie Burger" ($3.79) at this sports-themed joint and you won't be disappointed. Blanketed with a blend of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, the burger is juicy and rare with lettuce, tomato, white onions, and dill slices on a sesame seed bun. And since they also serve barbecue, there's always a warm crock of sweet, smoky sauce on hand to give any burger some extra added flavor.
906 W. Sixth, 472-0693
Mon-Sat, 11am-10pm; Sun, 11:30am-10pm
Hamburgers are their specialty, and Hut's is a perennial favorite in the annual Chronicle Restaurant Readers Poll, with 20 variations on the basic theme. Each burger comes on a well-prepared foundation, is cooked to a happy medium, thick and flavorful enough to stand up to whichever of the myriad toppings strikes your fancy. Don't miss the two-for-one burger special Wednesday, famous as one of the best deals in town.
1822 S. Congress, 444-5738
Mon-Thu, 10am-10:30pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-11pm;
South Austin's strongest drive-in contender, Fran's offers burgers in three sizes to fit any appetite. Griddle-toasted buns and flavorful patties make for a drippingly good experience -- you'll be grateful for the wax paper wrappers. Fran's milkshakes also get the seal of approval from one of our junior restaurant reviewers, Roz Faires.
4308 Manchaca, 443-6131; 5602 N. Lamar, 459-3239;
844 Airport, 385-2262
Though Don Walser and his wife are regular breakfast customers at the Manchaca store, the burgers at Dan's are still the same tasty, reliable standby we've come to depend on over the years. The medium-sized bacon cheeseburger comes dressed with plenty of crisp bacon, melted cheese, a thick slice of ripe tomato, and a mound of shredded lettuce. Warm and juicy, it hits the burger spot.
The Filling Station
801 Barton Springs Rd., 477-1022
Mon-Thu, 11am-midnight; Fri-Sat, 11am-2pm;
Wheel in here for the Ethyl Burger, 3/4 pounds of pure ground beef, cooked to order, and dressed with your choice of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, chopped onions, grilled onions, bacon, cheese, chili, sautéed mushrooms, hickory sauce, and/or jalape–os. Less robust appetites can opt for the Regular Burger, a mere six ounces of beef with the same options.