Burger Bonanza

Beefy bites from Austin's newest joints

While higher-end restaurants may be struggling in the current economy, the local burger business is booming. Austin families may have to tighten their dining-out budgets, but the obvious business growth proves they're still going out for burgers. Successful local food-service operations as well as strong regional chains are bullish on the Austin burger market, and both some new and some established burger operations are in expansion mode. At a time when the major national burger chains are expanding menus to include an even larger variety of processed foods, most of the new locals have chosen to focus on simple menus and quality ingredients. Many offer freshly formed, all-natural beef patties. Custom-made buns, quality toppings, fresh-squeezed lemonades, and luxurious Blue Bell milkshakes are not uncommon. It's clear that Austin burger lovers are eating this right up, and we decided it was time to explore the scene. Contributing Food writers Mick Vann, Kate Thornberry, Rachel Feit, Wes Marshall, and Sarah Hamlin joined me on this delicious local burger trail. For this story, we limited our list to relatively new burger joints – places that have opened here in the last couple of years – but also put together a list of our all-time favorite local burgers with an interactive component (see "Burgers We Love") to encourage reader participation. Using a bacon cheeseburger as our control dish at each stop, we also considered the purported house specialties in several places – fries here, a bun there, a shake or some lemonade somewhere else – to round out the experience. We discovered good burgers in trailers, drive-through stands, sit-down restaurants, even a liquor-store deli. It was a tough job, but that's why we're here. – Virginia B. Wood

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hamburgers, Shuggie's, Hat Creek Burger Co., Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Spec's, P. Terry's, TerraBurger

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