Burgers are a top-tier food. They’re good at all times of the day - we’ve had our share of breakfast burgers - and they hit all of the major food groups, so they’re kind of healthy? But the best thing about them is their versatility.
And since it’s been a minute since we updated our Best Burgers In Austin list, we decided to shine a spotlight on some of the new options in town - from a Basque-inspired cheeseburger to a new take on the classic smashburger. So put down that frozen patty that’s been sitting in the back of your freezer all month and go try one of these nine great spots instead.
The burger at downtown’s Kalimotxo is a bit of a departure from their previous pintxos-focused menu, but it’s one that we’re welcoming with open, burger-filled arms. The ingredients here sound like they came from a random MadLibs generator, with ingredients like px onion, mahon cheese, and mushroom aioli. But despite the less-conventional approach, Kalimotxo’s focus on a few high-quality ingredients has landed it close to perfection. And if you’ve ever debated what the best way to prepare potatoes is, the patatas bravas served alongside the burger are your answer.
The Classic Burger from Hold Out Brewing in Clarksville is glorious to behold. Consider yourself lucky to be in its presence. It’s smashed 44 Farms beef patties, American cheese, comeback sauce, dill pickles, and mustard. And yes, you can get a single, but you’d be missing out - it’s double meat and double cheese situation. Pair it with curly fries and one of their very good beers. It’s the kind of burger you uncontrollably inhale, and then immediately wish you had ordered a second one.
At Verbena, they’ve opted to focus on simplicity. That means you’re not going to find any fancy lettuce that requires a botanist to identify, or tomatoes that only grow at the base of a volcano in Italy. Instead, you’ll find shredded romaine lettuce, white onions, and pickles, accompanied by two smashed patties and American cheese. It’s simple, it’s focused, and it’s a surprisingly solid burger coming out of a restaurant inside of a hotel on West 6th. They have a beautiful open-air patio inside of the restaurant as well, making it a welcome retreat from the bustle of downtown, if you decide to opt for a dine-in experience.
The burger might be a small pivot from the normally breakfast-focused menu at Paperboy just off East 11th, but it certainly comes out swinging. The ingredients sound straightforward enough - ground chuck, bread-and-butter pickles, lettuce, tomato, and “secret sauce” - but the only secret we want to know is how they’re able to pack so much flavor into this small, burger-shaped package. It’s cooked to a perfect medium and covered with almost enough pickle slices to puzzle together into a whole cucumber - an amount necessary to balance out the juices that slowly exude with each bite. Despite its recent arrival in Austin, we think that this burger has the potential to make our list of Austin greats.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: If the people at Contigo in East Austin ever took the now-iconic burger off the menu, they’d have a riot on their hands. It’s called the “Contigo burger” for a reason, what with the chunky patty and a sweet Challah bun. Now the burger has some competition for your attention, as Contigo has a couple new options. There’s the Backyard Burger - tinier and more svelte with a four-ounce patty, grilled pineapple, spicy teriyaki glaze, and togarashi aioli, all on a potato bun. And there’s the Smash Burger, with double meat, double cheese, grilled onions, and special sauce. They’re each great in their own way, but don’t feel forced like you have to choose. Do yourself a favor and order all three.
The newest addition to the Austin Daily Press menu is kind of a burger-torta hybrid that somehow manages to taste strangely familiar, while also feeling wholly different. It’s a tasty burger, with house-made pickles and aioli, two types of cheese, and two patties. Where it differs from the traditional format is the bun - instead of a typical hamburger bun, it’s served on a torta-style telera roll, which ends up being a little denser with a thicker outer crust. It’s a large sandwich that we needed almost two meals to get through. Currently they’re only serving it at their new location inside of Lavaca Street Bar, near South Lamar and Manchaca.
Buddy’s Burger fills an interesting gap in the Austin burger scene that nobody really asked for, but we all secretly needed. Fresh, hand-formed patties, and a burger that tastes like it was made by a grizzled kitchen veteran at a decades-old diner with plastic-covered menus. All of this, but with a modern exterior and a drive-thru window. It’s fast, it’s affordable, and most importantly, it’s good. If you find yourself just east of I-35 and Rundberg, do yourself a favor and stop by Buddy’s. Make sure to grab an order of their seasoned fries and a hand-spun milkshake while you’re there.
Oakmont Food Company is a newish restaurant on 38th Street - in the old Doc’s Bar and Grill space - and while they’re initially operating with a limited menu, no surprise, there is a cheeseburger. It’s a humble and classic affair, where the secret sauce is “simplicity.” It’s a well-executed cheeseburger: two expertly-caramelized thin beef patties, American cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and charred shallots, all on a bun from Easy Tiger.
The folks at Seoulju might be better known for their Korean Fried Chicken - which they do exceptionally well - but they’ve recently added a weekly burger special that we enjoyed almost as much. The burger, with Korean-inspired flavors, features a generous portion of beef bulgogi and an optional (but really, mandatory) fried egg on a brioche bun. It’s only available on Sundays out of their new location at Kitchen United Mix, so plan accordingly.