Whether or not you believe Fletcher Davis of Athens, Texas, invented the hamburger and served it at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis is irrelevant. Texas (Athens, specifically) is undoubtedly the "Original Home of the Hamburger," thanks to a unanimous vote by the Texas House of Representatives in 2007. Take that, Germany.
Given our historical ties to America’s favorite meal, it only makes sense to have so many fine hamburgers on menus across the Lone Star State.
From Dallas to Houston to Austin, we’ve taken a bite out of scrumptious beef patties topped with an array of wonderful and unusual ingredients. These burgers are the stuff of legend, the reason cowboys endured dusty trails and the muse that drew artists and architects to set up camp between the Red River and the Rio Grande. Saddle up your fork and tie on your napkin. We’re taking you on a burger tour of Texas. Enjoy these dining destinations the next time you’re wooing clients. One bite, and they’ll follow you anywhere.
The Grape is not exactly your neighborhood burger joint. In fact, the restaurant is a European-inspired bistro that recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.
History: Before it became The Grape, the restaurant was a little Italian eatery with striking purple and green chandeliers that resembled grapes. Current owner Courtney Luscher and husband, Brian, who was previously the restaurant’s chef, purchased The Grape in 2007.
Must order: The Grape’s Classic Cheeseburger
The buzz: "Soon after we bought The Grape, Brian added a burger to the menu-just the style of burger he likes," says Courtney Luscher. "It’s 10 ounces of lean chuck with our own house-made bacon cured on site, Texas hydroponic Bibb lettuce, Texas tomatoes, Vermont white cheddar cheese and Nathan’s half-sour horseradish pickles on pain au lait buns, a French style of bread."
Miss Hattie’s Café & Saloon
Located in San Angelo’s downtown historic district, Miss Hattie’s Café & Saloon offers eight different burgers.
History: Miss Hattie’s sits in the circa 1884 San Angelo National Bank building and is registered on the State and National Register of Historic Places. Legend has it that in the days when women were barred from banks, an underground tunnel connected the building to the basement of Miss Hattie’s Bordello. After husbands were done "banking," they would meet their wives for dinner, a practice that inspired the establishment’s name. In fact, you can even order a Brothel Burger.
Must order: Miss Hattie Burger
The buzz: "The Miss Hattie Burger is topped with bacon, pepper jack cheese, jalapeńos, roasted red peppers and a chipotle aioli sauce on a sesame bun," says Brenda Gunter, owner.
Remember Mel’s Diner on the television show Alice? Well, the Counter Café in Austin is pretty much the same type of place. The only difference? Patrons at the Counter Café enjoy the food. The small eatery seats just 26 and has an open-galley kitchen.
History: The Counter Café opened in the 1950s. Owner Debbie Davis bought it five years ago and completely remodeled it into a classic diner with a 24-foot mesquite counter and mesquite flooring.
Must order: The Counter Burger
The buzz: "The Counter Burger is topped with locally grown organic Bibb lettuce, red onions, Texas-grown tomatoes and a sharp cheddar cheese on a white sweet bun," says Davis.
(Dutch's Burgers and Beer)
Dutch’s Burgers and Beer
Dutch’s sits directly across the street from the main entrance to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. The six-year-old eatery is known for its burgers.
History: Dutch’s is named after Dutch Meyer, TCU’s head football coach (1934 to 1952), who led the Horned Frogs to two national titles and was the winningest coach in school history when he retired.
Must order: Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger
The buzz: "The Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger," says Kay Greenlee, co-owner and manager, "is a half-pound patty made with thick-sliced bacon, bleu cheese and a house-made chipotle mayonnaise. It comes on a sweet sourdough bun shipped from Houston that gives a little different flavor to the burger."
Want a true American burger dive? A menu of more than 30 different burgers hand-written on a piece of paper and taped to the window? Then the Hubcap Grill in Houston is for you.
History: Six years ago, Ricky Craig wanted to open a burger joint. The inspiration for the Hubcap Grill stems from a burger place in New Orleans that cooked its burgers using a 1950s Chevy hubcap (yes, an actual hubcap).
Must order: Texas Barbecue Burger
The buzz: "We use barbecue-smoked sausage with a smoky vinegar-based barbecue sauce and cook it out on the grill," says Craig. "We top that with Texas cheddar, Texas jalapeńos and crispy country-fried onions. All that goes on top of the burger."