12.12.2004

Mom and Pop Burger Joints

Since this blog is pretty new and you know little to nothing about me – let me give you some info about myself – the one and only Texas Burger Guy. I was born and raised in Texas. Lived in a small town in Central Texas for the better part of my life. After graduating high school – went to college in West Texas – GO TECH!!! – after 4 of the best years of my life at Texas Tech – graduated and landed a job in Houston.

Since I am a small town boy living in the big city – I tend to prefer the smaller mom and pop type burger places. They have that atmosphere that I grew up with. You know what I am talking about right? The buildings are plain as the color white. They all have the friendliest, most down to Earth people working there. The menus always consist of a great deal of artery clogging foods which is just perfect if you ask me. There are no fancy names for their food like “Old Timer Burger” or “Hickory Burger”. Finally - they have great food.

A Taj Mahal – She Ain’t
One definite characteristic among mom and pop burger joints is they are always in very common and ordinary buildings. They tend to be in old houses that were converted to a restaurant. I have been to several gas stations that were converted to restaurants. Those places are still serving gas – just a different kind. (sorry – couldn’t resist) I’ve been in double wide mobile homes that were made into a restaurant. When I walk into the place and see just plain ol’ tables and chairs. I know I am in for a good burger. When I walk in and see neon everywhere and cutesy little signs hanging everywhere about something the restaurant serves – I consider ordering a chicken fried steak instead. For me – the plainer the better. Those people know you will come back for the food – they know they don’t need cute little chairs and waiters with goofy buttons all over them to sell their food.

Friendly People
Mom and pops are usually run by the family of the owner. The owners of these restaurants started small and grew because they have good food. These people know and understand that anything worth having in this world isn’t given to you – those things you value the most are earned by hard work. In my opinion – these people are top notch. I don’t think I have ever been met by rude waitstaff at one of these mom and pop burger joints. They help you feel right at home. And – coming from a small town to Houston – I need to reconnect with that small town part of me every once in a while and these mom and pop waitstaff help do that for me. In addition to the waitstaff – the people eating at these places tend to be a certain group of people. They know that often times you find the best food and best service in hard to find places. There is this feeling among the patrons of these restaurants that you have found one of greatest restaurants that nobody else knows about. It feels like you have been let in on a secret that only those around you and those at the restaurant know about.

No Fancy Schmancy Names
No – none of that at mom and pop places. Their burgers are usually just named.. well.. burger. A burger with bacon is named a Burger with Bacon on the menu. Occasionally the burgers are named after the owner of the place. For example Bubba’s Burger Barn may have something named “Bubba’s Big Mean Burger”. While this could be contradictory to my previous statement about the mom and pop places not having fancy names… really… which is fancy sounding to you? Something named “Café Dijon Burger” or “Bubba’s Big Mean Burger”? When I crack open a burger menu and see some of these words: peppercorn, dijon, swiss, pepperjack, or ballerina – I know to steer clear of this dang place in the future.

Great Food
The most important part of any restaurant is obviously the quality of their food. Mom and pops always have very unique styles about them that you will never see in larger chains. For instance - you'll never see a burger with 6 patties at Chili's or TGI Fridays. You get your plain jane run of the mill burger there. Mom and pops have the freedom to do what they want to do - they are allowed to have style. Great food is the key element - and mom and pops have it.

14 Comments:

At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe nobody's posted!

Just ran in to your site posted on a Bible study board, posted by a friend there in Texas, but I read the board from Oregon.
I plan to visit Texas soon and bah-leve me, I'll be visiting Aunt Pokey's thanks to your blog.

I couldn't agree more about the mom and pop places. I've been a staunch believer in them myself forever.


Cheers from Oregon

 
At 7:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

found you googling for burger joint menus and i agree with you..have small restaurant in tourist town ontario canada which i fully intend to turn into a "burger and beer joint" this spring as my homemade burgers have outsold all else 4:1 for three summers now! never underestimate the power of a good burger! w.

 
At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next time you are in Round Rock TX you will have to try my favorite Mom & Pop place called Ward's Cafe. It is on Business 81 going out of town. They have the best Hamburgers in town. There Chicken Fried steak is fantastic. The waitstaff makes you feel like you have always been coming in. They will treat you better than family.
They also have a website, wardscafe.com.

 
At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are looking for a great burger and cool place to eat it at then you need to stop at Yesterday's in Bridgeport, Tx. I just tried it and it was wonderful. Talked to the friendly staff and they said they opened in Dec 2006, but the have a spot in Decatur thats been there for over 15 years. great 50's atmosphere and oh yeah get the apple pie I was full but was glad I got talked into it. check it out they have a website it said off a trivia card on table yesterdaystexas.com you don't want to miss this place

 
At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should stop by Cues Burgers & More
off of South Post Oak & 610 area. Good Food & Better People

 
At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Came across your blog looking for burger ideas. I believe your right about burger joints. Although I live up in Washington I agree with the small town ideas on burger joints. I am currently thinking about opening up this drive in that is here in town. The place has had several owners but never lasted long because they where afraid to add the service part of it. (theowners tried to run it all, cook and cashier) which led to mediocre food.
So someone give me an idea for some menu items. I have a few and I want to keep it simple that way I can keep what I DO have on a menu good. Give some ideas.

FC in the OP

 
At 11:16 AM, Blogger Gerry said...

Drive three hours north on 45 to Dallas and go to Chips on the tollway by Lovers Ln...best burger joint in TX...guaranteed.

Damie in Boston (Houston/Dallas TX transplant)

 
At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, give a review of Fugler's, the home of the Bubba Burger! It's amazing and located in Harleton, Texas. It is most definitely a hole-in-the wall, but that makes the burger even better.

 
At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Danny G. said...

never had ballerina before, but i agree if i saw that on the menu I would do an about face and leave

 
At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey burger guy.. go to hashknife bbq and burgers in peadenville,8 miles north of mineral wells..he said he grinds his meat out of fresh brisket,im gonna tell ya,you can tell,get the bandido burger,has japs and onion in meat,or the trail burger,it is grilled onion smelded with bbq sauce with utterly crazy melted cheese on there homemade grilled bread..the guy next to me was having a smoked chicken sald sand on that grilled bread also,he said it is the best sandwich there is anywhere.. go try it.. its killer,thanx bill johnson

 
At 5:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Site,
One suggestion:
Is there anyway there could be a "reverse" look up, say by zip code, town, or area?

 
At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Blog here...burgers and burger joints are evolving in a big way right now and I love to try new burgers every week! Thanks for the great info!

 
At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Taylor, Tx and like barbecue it had several great burger joints, including the legendary Diamond Inn and Curve Inn. Both were beer joints as well. What set Taylor burgers apart was that they were cooked on a flat top griddle from a fresh ball of 80/20 meat pressed flat with a few white onions pressed right into the meat with salt and pepper. The buns were heated on the griddle as well.The meat was crusty and moist and most people never even knew they were eating onions. They just knew the burger had a merging of flavors that melted in your mouth. I hear there is a place that's been in the works forever on Manor Rd. in Austin that's going to attempt to duplicate Taylor style burgers. I can only hope that they come close, because the only other place I've been able to get them is to make them myself.

 
At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe I'm slow, but I don't see a way to search by location. I would love to see what you have in a given area so I can arrange my travels and days around good burgers...

 

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