Category Archives: Burgers

Burger Palace

It seems this year there will be more than just an annual burger. Burger Palace, a Galleria-area gourmet burger joint, came as a recommendation from one of our work-lunch crew, the King of User Interface. All of us enjoyed, even the vegetarians.

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Atmosphere
Its a small , comfortable space looking like a Texas roadside diner collided with a black, white and red deco bar. Very busy but with noise levels in the medium range,  conducive to conservation but not for lingering. The crowd at lunch is suits mixed with a smattering of over-dressed, over-quaffed ladies who shop the Galleria.

Food
The menu is mostly composed of burgers and most of those are Kobe beef. For those not in the mood for beef, there are some chicken and vegetarian versions.

The combinations of toppings for the specialty burgers runs from Hawaiian to Italian to Southern. I tried the Texas, which was Kobe, cheddar, jalapeno, smoked bacon and grilled onions. For me, burger success always starts with the beef patty. If its too dry or doesn’t have much flavor,  not much can compensate. This is not the case here. Very flavourful and moist but stopping short of having juice trickle down your forearm and on to your work clothes as a tell tale sign of what you had for lunch and a problem for your dry cleaners.

Parmesan-Rosemary fries are a must; hand cut, double fried then sprinkled with shaved Parmesan and chopped rosemary. Delicious but when paired with a sizable burger, probably best shared.

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Service
Efficient and friendly but at lunch rush they are understaffed. Orders for our group of 11 were up in 30 minutes. Water, extra naps and ketchup seemed to appear from nowhere. The hostess did inform us that if we descend in mass next time, we had the option of ordering ahead of time so our lunches would be ready at the time of our choosing.

Price
A little high but quality is likewise high. Most of the burgers are $11, the Parmesan-Rosemary fries are $5.

While I think my burger consumption is coming to an end for 2014, I will definitely return to Burger Palace next year. Ok, maybe earlier. Ok, I’m actually posting this from their parking lot waiting for them to open 😉

Lunch: 31 January 2014

Burger Palace | 2800 Sage | HTX 77056

LowBrow

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There is no such place called LowBrow in Houston. You should definitely not even look for it, its just an urban legend. I don’t really need to try deflection techniques to keep the glitterati away from LowBrow, they simply will not fit in here and we are all the happier to leave them to their silly, over-shellaced world up high on Washington Ave.

Only 3 months open, LowBrow is a relatively new entry into Houston’s bumper crop of new nightspots. For me, LowBrow may be starting a new, old trend in Houston – the return, in force, of the dive-esque neighbourhood bar. Pairing well with the likes of  EaDo’s Voodoo Queen & Moon Tower Inn and Downtown’s Warrens,  it is a place to go as-is and just have a good time over a few local beers and unpretentious food offerings.

IMG_1740For beer, mostly they focus on the local varieties, No Label and St. Arnold’s, however I spotted a Young’s and Guinness. There are a few wines and the bar seems well-stocked with the requisite spirits.

The crowd defies age range, race and socioeconomic labels. I saw many college-aged who are probably walking over from St Thomas College just down the road. Some middle-aged who probably set out to haunt the Westheimer anchor bars but grew tired of waiting 45 minutes for a drink. And even some later-life kids, who probably live in the area and still want to shake it up a little.

The mood is upbeat and social; birthday balloons anchored one large table in the centre of the room, most of the people here circled about the open space meeting and greeting. Music was almost exclusively late-70s funk with an occasional pre-Thriller Michael Jackson thrown in for fun. Service is great, our server was very attentive and personable, stopping by often to check on us on his way to deliver beverages or turn in orders.

Burgers, sammIMG_1749ys and breakfast tacos pepper the small menu. Since I’ve been here 4 times in the past week, I can say my favourite item is the Chicken Fried Black Bean Burger. Its a handmade black bean mixture, battered and fried, served between a griddled, crispy bun with avocado, cilantro, onion and tomato. At lunch, fries come with. The fries are hand-cut, thick, crispy and lightly dusted with some sort of seasoned salt – delicious.

On my most recent trip, yesterday,IMG_1750 I noticed a poster for a Phil Collins dinner. Phil wasn’t putting on a concert, no, its just that one of the owners loves his music and to honour Collins’ birthday (yesterday) he hired a DJ to spin all-Collins and created a 4-course dinner to pair. Several co-lunchers were giddy with the prospect of returning to LowBrow for an all-Collins dinner evening.

I’m expecting more quirky but extremely compelling offerings from LowBrow, my new standard against which all Houston nightspots will be measured.

Lunch: 30 January 2014

LowBrow | 1601 West Main | HTX 77006

Hubcap Grill

Houston has been ranked as one of the fattest cities in the US. Its not a surprise considering there are burger joints on every corner and from what the Houstonians tell me, they are worth carrying around a few extra pounds.

I took a casual poll of the burger experts in our work-lunch crew and combined the results with the annual ‘top 10’ burger joint review from the Houston Press which produced three places of interest. For my annual burger, I chose Hubcap Grill.

Atmosphere
There are two outposts. One in the wildly popular but inaccessible for lunch Heights neighborhood. The other is downtown. I like the downtown location since its the original; small, cramped, lively. There are a few tables inside, a few more in the covered ‘alley’ next door and a few move uncovered on the sidewalk on Prairie St. What we noticed is that while Hubcap is completely full at 11am, by the time you wait in line to place your order, a table will invariably open up. If for some reason a table is not available, head north one block to the park.

Food
I tried the Jalapeno Cheeseburger and fries. Excellent. The bun is light and airy, tasting homemade. The ground beef is thinly hand-formed, very flavorful,  not greasy and crispy around the edges. The requisite accessories are available and you can customize (lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mustard, pickle).  Fries are hand cut, cooked to crispy perfection, then lightly seasoned with a combination of spices leaning toward the Cajun side.

I did not try the Cheese Fries but 2 others swear they are excellent. And really, the cheese fries are enough for two, if not more.

Most everyone enjoyed, however a consistent recommendation was to not add grilled onions; they made the burger very greasy.

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Service
Counter service with delivery. Order to delivery time at the peak of Friday lunch rush was 20 minutes.

Price
Reasonable. Jalapeno Cheeseburger, Fries, Bottled Water – $10

Pictured clockwise: Downtown signage, Bacon-Blue Cheeseburger with Fried Egg,  Jalapeno Cheeseburger, Cheese Fries.

Lunch: 10 January 2014

Hubcap Grill | 1111 Prairie | HTX 77002