Taco Spotting: N. Lamar Corridor ~ Austin, TX

Austin, Mexican, Taco Spotting, Taco Trucks, Tacos, Texas By July 2, 2016 No Comments

Late Night Tacos.

It’s a beautiful sight to come across. A random carwash that has been closed for hours, taken over by a string of work lights, and a crowd of people happily staring at large piles of sizzling meats. You dream of your impending taco order while being mesmerized by a spatula that is oh so carefully herding those sizzling morsels, ensuring that each one has a perfectly crisped edge, a juicy interior, and is worthy of a salsa that could launch a thousand ships. Also, did I mention this meal is about as cheap as it get?

Unlike some of you fortunate souls, I didn’t grow up on Authentic Mexican food. I do like to think that I made up for my 18 years of Taco Bell and Naugles with my 20 years roaming the streets of LA after dark, in search of a master taquero. With that being said, I’m new to the Austin taco scene and there has been an adjustment period. Tacos are more expensive. And where is all that Al Pastor that seems to be omnipresent in LA? Oh, and where can I get my Late Night Taco fix? Which brings me to this piece of taco spotting I’m sharing today. Starting just north of Anderson Lane running through Rundberg Lane and beyond, lies a glorious stretch of Lamar Boulevard that looks plain jane in the daylight hours, but come night fall, I see the familiar markings of Late Night Taco spots. And there be Al Pastor out there too.

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Mighty Fine Burgers – Austin, TX

Austin, Burgers, Chain, Texas By June 16, 2016 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger:The Classic” 1/2 lb Meyer Ranch Angus hormone/antibiotic free natural chuck, shredded Iceberg lettuce, off the vine tomatoes, sliced white onions, crinkle cut pickles, “white”(mayonnaise) and “red”(ketchup) on a standard issue hamburger bun
the bucks: $6.29

In the year 2016 . . .

For those of us old enough to marvel at hearing those words being said out loud, we know that our present is in many ways the very exciting future of our past imaginations. Just watch an episode of the original Star Trek, on your smartphone, and have a trippy existential kind of moment when Captain Kirk flips open his tricorder as you think to yourself “there’s an app for that ” .  .  . which brings me to the latest find for Bang for your Burger Buck: Mighty Fine Burgers, and a growing realization that burger chains are being reinvented in very very good ways in the 21st century. You best believe this is one burger that even Spock and Bones would agree is a solid deal. 

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Noble Sandwich Company – Austin, TX

Austin, Burgers, Gourmet By June 3, 2016 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: Swine Burger, all pork patty with provolone, bacon, romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion, bacon aioli on a fresh baked spent grain bun w/ fries
the bucks: $9.75

“Pork burgers just don’t work”

That was me 10 years ago. The burger revolution was popping and it was giving me an excuse to order low brow at high end restaurants. Things have changed in the 10 years since I made that bold claim, in the world of burgers and in my attitudes toward food. These days I allow for more second chances on disappointing first encounters. In the case of Noble Sandwich Company, it would be a pork burger that would be given a second chance. Was it fate, my “older and wiser outlook” on food, or just finding the right joint to pull off a pork burger that lead me to this porcine themed Bang for your Burger Buck adventure? Logic would suggest the last reason but for now, I’m gonna run with fate on this one .  .  .

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The Shake Shack Edition

Burgers, Chain, Nationwide By May 6, 2016 2 Comments

Shake Shack, Shake Shack, why do I love thee so? Let me compare thee with thy competition:

  1. Are you are better than In-N-Out?
  2. Are you are better than Steak ‘n Shake?
  3. Are you are better than Five Guys Burger and Fries?
  4. Are you are better than Smashburger?

Ok, enough of this burger bashing tuned to a PBS series stuck in iambic pentameter. Choosing between national, better than your average, burger chains that operate under different price points and levels of service is silly, it’s unfair. Many of these burgers have their place, though if I had all of these burger options in front of me at once, I would choose Shake Shack. And it’s kind of un Bang like of me to pick Shake Shack because it is by far the most expensive option. It is also the choice that boasts the highest quality of ingredients, the best bacon cheeseburger, oh and they serve beer, good beer. But one must be cautious, vigilant even, as to the ways one can pay and pay for a Shake Shack experience. With burgers that can cost up to$10, plus beer, tempting shakes and crinkle cut fries all aiming to rack up your tab, you really need a plan of attack when you step up to this Shack. Good thing I went through 4 burgers to find the path to Bang for your Burger Buck. Let’s start with one of the best bacon cheeseburger concepts I have ever come across.

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In the Kitchen: a Bang for your Burger Buck recipe

Burgers, In the Kitchen, Recipe By April 24, 2016 2 Comments

Welcome to a new frontier: a Bang for your Burger Buck recipe. I had been mulling over how to jump into the recipe game without going all Smitten Kitchen on you for more than a minute. I would say the timing was perfect when OK! Magazine reached out to me for a recipe. It just so happened that I was working on my soon to be posted Shake Shack edition and had come across their excellent bacon cheeseburger, the SmokeShack. If you know this blog you know that I usually lambast the addition of bacon as a misallocation of precious burger funds. Why not spend that money on more beef? Well in the case of Shake Shack, we find a truly delicious exception to the rule. The bacon is perfectly cooked and is of a complimentary quality to the special proprietary beef blend Shake Shack uses, in other words it ain’t Hormel. But what really gets my noggin spinning is the spicy pickled cherry pepper spread. It provides a remarkable counterbalance to the overall richness of the bacon, beef and cheese. Now I love spicy pickled things. It doesn’t take a Stephen Hawking to tell you that it’s part of my Indian DNA, hell it might read giardiniera as some sort of chutney. And pickled cherry peppers are no strangers to the chambers in my fridge. Weeks earlier I happened to be toying with an aioli spiked with spicy pickled cherry peppers and well, timing right? So now you know how we got here, let’s talk about what we are going to make.

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Hut’s Hamburgers – Austin, TX

Austin, Burgers, Texas By March 28, 2016 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: The Fats Domino 1/3lb custom burger blend from local butcher(Johnny Gs), standard issue bun, lettuce, chopped tomatoes, pickles, mayo, mustard, jalapeños, onions, grated cheddar cheese and a spicy New Orleans seasoning
the bucks: $7.75
the coordinates: Austin, TX

Imagine Austin, Texas in 1939. A time when skinny jeans were reserved for skinny cowboys. When food trucks were just for shipping food. When a hamburger joint was just a . . . well in the case of Hut’s Hamburgers, somethings do the stay the same, or in this case, have clearly not forgotten where they came from. You know this place is special the moment you walk in. The sign that bears the year of its founding is about as necessary as the last line on a McDonald’s sign that says Billions and Billions served. History is heaped onto the walls and boasts that type of hoarder chic that has become the trademark style of casual dining empires such as TGI Fridays and Applebee’s, but of course Hut’s feels infinitely more authentic with the predictable but thoroughly enjoyable Texas Roadside feel. Faded baseball pennants with that font that literally takes you back to your childhood bedroom help ease the notion that a midday beer is just what the doctor ordered. Or if you are committed to a course of Bang for your Burger Buck, rest assured that signs like this mean the place you are sitting in is serious about burgers.

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