My Quest for the Best Cheeseburgers in Austin

Friends of mine from Penn relocated to Austin shortly after I did. I live in South Austin, and they live on the north side. We enjoy sharing restaurant recommendations as we continue to find out more about the city. I’m not a restaurant critic, but I consider it a waste of time, money, and calories if I have a bad dining experience. I have mental lists of restaurants in Austin that I would recommend for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; restaurants I would recommend for seafood, steaks, barbeque, or pasta; and restaurants I would recommend for fare like Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Thai, or American; etc. Recommending restaurants for their cheeseburgers would not be limited to burger joints.

Fortunately, the March/April 2023 issue of Austin Monthly just arrived and the cover displayed a juicy cheeseburger with the notation “35 best burgers.”  I wasn’t sure I had 35 different cheeseburgers I could recommend, so I decided to start there.

Writer Chris Hughes deserves a lot of credit for his unselfish quest to locate and test the top 35 burgers in Austin, but photographer Jessica Attic should also get credit for her mouth-watering photographs. Mr. Hughes organizes the burgers he rated in the following categories:







I added three places (Hopdoddy, In-N-Out Burger, and Mattie’s) to Mr. Hughes’ list and note that I have not been to all 35 of his selected establishments. I have been to all the establishments listed under the fancy category and have had a burger at each except for Dai Due and Jeffrey’s. While each of these restaurants has many other notable choices, I would visit Clark’s (the cover picture is of a burger I had at Clark’s), Mattie’s, and Odd Duck solely for their burgers. I put an asterisk next to restaurants on this list that I have visited and concur with their inclusion on the list.

By choice, I’ve never eaten a plant-based burger. It’s not because I object to vegan food, it’s because there are not enough opportunities for me to try all the great regular burgers. In the smashed burger category, I highly recommend Bad Larry Burger Club, Carpenters’ Hall, and JewBoy Burgers. All three would be included in my top 10 list. It looks like there are several others that I need to visit.

I decided to query ChatGPT for its opinion about the Top 10 cheeseburgers in Austin. It listed six that were included in the list above, most in the classic category. These six are: Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Casino El Camino, Dirty Martin’s Place, P. Terry’s, Top Notch Hamburgers, and Crown and Anchor Pub. The four places it added are: Black Sheep Lodge, Burger Tex II (this restaurant closed during the pandemic after operating in Austin for 50 years), Mighty Fine Burgers, and Counter Café. Since ChatGPT points out that its data has not been updated since 2021, it’s not surprising that one of its recommended locations closed during the pandemic.

Lastly, Mr. Hughes featured the burger offered by Odd Duck restaurant’s chef Bryce Gilmore as in a special class by itself (according to Mr. Hughes, the burger was named top burger in the city by the Austin American Statesman in 2016 but Chef Gilmore continues to experiment with its formulation). I’m a fan of Odd Duck’s burger (which is made with dry-aged Akaushi wagyu beef) but would include the burgers at Clark’s (the gruyere cheese really enhances its flavor), JewBoy Burgers (my favorite has freshly made pastrami added), Bad Larry Burger Club (freshly made double pressed burgers), and Carpenters’ Hall in my top five. I expect I’ll keep refining as well as adding to my list. As always, I am glad to receive recommendations. After all, variety is the spice of life.

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