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Top Texas burgers: 10 restaurants you have to try

All over the Lone Star State, chefs are taking this classic to gourmet levels. Ready for a wild-boar burger?

As much as we Texans love our chicken-fried steak, tacos, and barbecue, the burger could be the most iconic of all Texas eats. Any dyed-in-the-wool Texan can tell you the hamburger was invented in the East Texas town of Athens. Fletcher Davis reportedly opened up a lunch spot in that town in the 1880s where the hamburger sandwich was first served.

Whether you agree with Lone Star State folks who accept this as fact, you can’t argue that some mighty fine renditions are made in every corner of Texas. Read on for 10 of the best burgers in Texas we’ve found.

1. Loro

2115 S. Lamar Boulevard, Austin; (512) 916-4858

Loro burger

Photo courtesy Loro

In our capital, choices among burger stops typically include some of the most historic in the state. However, you should carve out time to visit some newer hot spots like Loro, an Asian-influenced smokehouse with a distinctive pedigree.

James Beard Award–winning chefs and owners Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin turn out a happy hour–only burger, starring a prime brisket and smoked bavette (flap steak) patty, served on a brioche bun. Slathered between the bun and the meat is a jam made with caramelized red onion and brisket burnt ends, which plays sweet and smoky against buttery Muenster cheese, spicy jalapeño aioli, tart pickles, and tender butter lettuce.

2. Easy Tiger

Three Austin locations

Easy Tiger burger served with a side of chips

Photo courtesy Easy Tiger

At the beer garden and bakery Easy Tiger, the Easy Cheddar Burger was turned from a special into a nightly offering. The kitchen grills a patty of ground sirloin, brisket, and eye of round and tops it with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and signature Easy Island Dressing. Served on a house-made pretzel bun, this Easy Cheddar Burger is delicious with the local Austin Beerworks Pearl-Snap, a German-style pilsner. 

3. Knife

Two Dallas locations

Knife Burger served with a side of fries

Photo by Kevin Marple / Courtesy Knife

For a burger made with Top Chef cred, turn to Knife. Chef John Tesar, a two-time contestant on the famous Bravo competition, is known for his fast-growing Knife steak house concept—and admired for his Ozersky burger.

Named for his late pal, food writer Josh Ozersky, this straight-up classic burger features a juicy patty made with local 44 Farms beef, thinly sliced red onion, and a slice of perfectly melted American cheese on what Tesar calls “a squishy white bun.” 

4. Liberty Burger

Five Dallas locations

Liberty Burger

Photo courtesy Liberty Burger

Mariel Street grew up in a legendary Dallas restaurant family but forged her own path by opening Liberty Burger, a burger shop with a freewheeling spirit in far-flung menu choices. The fast-casual shop lets guests mix it up with meats, cheeses, accoutrements, and dressings.

The lamb-and-feta Jackie O burger is luscious, but The Woodstock steals the show. Its patty is made with grains, chickpeas, seeds, and chopped veggies, with a tall stack of spring greens, avocado, tomato slices, and Swiss cheese on a cracked wheat bun that’s spread with basil-garlic aioli.

The adult shake of choice? A frosty vanilla custard-and-Kahlua White Russian called The Lebowski, of course.

5. Bernie's Burger Bus

Four Houston locations

The Detention Burger at Bernie's Burger Bus

Photo by Jody Horton / Courtesy Bernie's Burger Bus

Who doesn’t love a burger with a sense of humor? At Bernie’s Burger Bus—started in a converted old yellow school bus—chef Justin Turner crafts his burgers with house-ground beef and assigns them names like The Substitute, The Cheerleader, and The Fire Drill.

The head-turner, however, is The Detention, a towering work comprising two patties, double-cheese treatment, grilled onions, and run-through-the-garden toppings wedged between two grilled cheese sandwiches acting as the bun. Pair it with a side of panko-crusted onion rings and strawberry lemonade. 

6. State of Grace

3258 Westheimer Road, Houston; (832) 942-5080

State of Grace burger

Photo by Duc Hoang / Courtesy State of Grace

The elegant but approachable River Oaks favorite called State of Grace offers beauty on plates of steak, duck, and fish. But the go-to lunch is the Butter Burger “Carpet Bagger Style.” The double-patty construction includes beef with frozen butter blended into the grind, a draping of white American cheese, caramelized onion, smoky bacon, a fried egg, pickles, and for good measure, a plump, crispy, fried oyster. 

7. Cured

306 Pearl Parkway, San Antonio. (210) 314-3929

Burger, fries, and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon at Cured

Photo by Veronica Luna / Courtesy Cured

Chef Steve McHugh built a loyal following for his handcrafted charcuterie at Cured, located inside one of the beautiful historic buildings at the Pearl.

His brunch-menu Blue Ribbon Burger is an unmistakable homage to his native Wisconsin. It stars a thick patty blending ground chuck, short rib meat, and bacon that he tops with onion jam and envelopes with his special house-made American cheese (a mix of smoky gouda and white cheddar infused with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer). Crunchy-crisp fries come alongside, as should a chilled can of PBR.

8. Cappy's Restaurant

5011 Broadway, San Antonio. (210) 828-9669

Burger at Cappy's Restaurant

Photo courtesy Cappy's Restaurant

Known for more than 40 years as a fine-dining destination doubling as an art gallery in Alamo Heights, Cappy’s Restaurant delights guests with a lunchtime Felix Bean Burger. Pureed black beans, melted cheddar cheese, crunchy corn chips, smoky roasted salsa, and guacamole top the hefty beef patty. Add a grilled jalapeño on top, if you like a spicy kick. Hand-cut fries are worthy sides, but the house-made lemon-pepper potato chips are irresistible. 

9. Perini Ranch Steakhouse

3002 FM 89, Buffalo Gap; (325) 572-3339

Perini Ranch Steakhouse burger

Photo by Ralph Lauer / Courtesy Perini Ranch Steakhouse

Former cowboy Tom Perini converted an old barn on his family ranch near Abilene to a country steak house more than 35 years ago.

Perini Ranch Steakhouse, which has claimed a James Beard America’s Classics Award, counts presidents and Hollywood legends among fans for everything from mesquite-grilled steaks to its impressive Ranch Burger. A grilled half-pound patty, hand-shaped from ground chuck, is draped in melted cheddar and topped with freshly roasted, chopped green chiles, along with grilled mushroom and red onion slices, all served on a toasted bun. 

10. Toro Burger Bar

Five El Paso locations

A burger, side of fries, and glass of beer

Photo courtesy Toro Burger Bar

Toro Burger Bar thrills palates in El Paso with its repertoire of Angus beef, Kobe, wild boar, elk, and buffalo burgers, plus a multitude of “treatments,” or unusual toppings that include pineapple jam and jalapeño bacon. A recurring rave-worthy special is the Southern Pork Belly Burger, showcasing a thick beef patty crowned by slices of smoky bacon, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and cool, crunchy coleslaw. 

Be sure to designate a driver if you plan to drink alcohol.

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