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Launderette – Austin TX

Austin, Burgers, Texas By October 10, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

The Vitals:
the spot: Launderette 2115 Holly St. Austin TX 78702
the eats: Plancha Burger
the bucks: $9
the full nelson:  A chef driven take on a classic comfort food burger

I have been living in Austin for a little over two years now and while I feel comfortable waxing poetic on some obvious edible essentials like La Barbecue, P. Terry’s or Taco Deli; the fine dining scene eludes me. Part of it is because since having a kid, my wife and I eat out at these types of establishments far less. The other part is that you don’t need to eat at a fine dining establishment to get a taste of the chef driven, farm to table food experience that is the cornerstone of our contemporary fine dining movement. Which brings me to my visit at Launderette for the Plancha burger. First off Launderette is far more than a mere burger spot, their menu is a mix of shared plates and a few entrées, with a heavy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influence. The chef behind the savory side of the menu, Rene Ortiz, is an accomplished one, with a resumé that rattles off names like Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse like a teaser for an upcoming episode of Top Chef Masters. And the burger costs $9, so this should be a perfect storm for Bang for your Burger Buck right? That depends on what you expect out of your burgers. The Plancha is a chef driven version of a classic American Diner cheeseburger, a burger genre whose entries make the lists of the best burgers around. And if you need support that a diner cheeseburger can draw the admiration of top tier critics, just ask Jonathan Gold, George Motz or Nick Solares. How does the Plancha stack up? Let’s find out.

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An NYC Burger Binge

Burgers, New York, NYC By March 23, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

Four burgers in five days pretty much screams meat sweats even if brisket isn’t part of the equation. But sometimes you gotta take advantage of your burger surroundings and so here ya go – 4 epic burgers meals in the city that never sleeps. Unless you happen to eat four burgers in five days of course.

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Hopdoddy Burger Bar Edition

Arizona, Austin, Burgers, California, Chain, Colorado, Gourmet, Los Angeles, Texas, West Coast By August 6, 2016 No Comments

I’m really scratching my head on this one. As I struggle to tickle the keys on my beat to hell 2007 Macbook, I face the stark truth that I am about to give props to the one burger joint in Austin that seems like it came out of the Wachowski brothers’ Matrix trilogy: Hopdoddy Burger Bar. The customers don’t wear nearly the same amount of leather as Carrie Anne Moss, and I’m pretty sure open carry in Austin’s City Limits doesn’t include Matrix level hardware, but the almost too perfect polished feel of the place seems jarring enough for me to take the red pill. In this case, the “red pill” meant taking on three(actually 4) burgers to see how deep Bang for your Burger Buck can go here. And how deep does the rabbit hole go at Hopdoddy? Let’s just say by the end I was waxing poetic on these burgers with the Mad Hatter and Alice.

On paper, places like Hopdoddy are why I began the search for Bang for your Burger Buck. The $10 and up burger trend was shifting burger discourse away from beautifully imperfect burger stands to chef driven concepts dripping with start up cash from dudes in Teslas who just started saying the word “dude” again after a 5 year hiatus post college/grad school. With a full bar, boozy milkshakes and several well positioned monitors blasting ESPN, the temptation to stay awhile and get loose at Hopdoddy is great. $50 later you may find yourself asking how a burger and beer experience bordered on a light sushi dinner. Well, it’s not really a conspiracy on the part of joints like Hopdoddy. They figured out awhile back that people will spend money in all kinds of settings, whether they be quiet white table cloth lined dining rooms or a burger joint with kobe on the menu and kobe highlight reels on the TV. So why should you spend your hard earned buck here? Because in this instance, the crowds indeed gather for good reason: their burgers rock. Their burgers are also all over the map. In fact, it kind of irks me when a burger joint can’t pick one burger version and run with it. In Hopdoddy’s case, they have 12 burgers that showcase extreme topping creations versus that one single interpretation of what they believe a great burger truly is. After an initial dud, I honed in on three burgers that struck me as compelling on their own and fine to compare and contrast. Like shopping for a car or a Mac(hint hint), budget will drive your journey. So here are three great Hopdoddy burgers, in ascending order of Bang for your Burger Buck, that are indeed worthy of your hard earned buck. And I freaking enjoyed eating every one of ’em 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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