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Houston by the Burger

Pappas+Burger
Pappas Burger

Fast food restaurants dominate our lives, from breakfast burritos to late-night burgers from Whataburger. Burgers are usually associated with being cheap, easy meals and are often called junk food, but some restaurants opt to be more creative and craft burgers into mouth-watering delicacies. Here’s what to try at three very different burger joints around Houston:

The original Southwells restaurant was built on Richmond Ave. with three other locations popping up around Houston after its early success. Each Southwells is decorated like the original retro diner that first opened in 1986. It is usually not too crowded and is known to host parties for kids’ sports teams. The menu consists of nineteen different varieties of burgers, as well as waffle fries, sweet potato fries, and onion rings. The prices are very reasonable and range from $5 to $7.

The bacon cheeseburger with mushrooms was large and intensely juicy along with crispy waffle fries. It looks deceptively like a McDonald’s burger, but the meat and bacon were extremely tender and quickly served directly off the grill. The lettuce, tomatos, and mushrooms hid inside the burger were spread around just enough to taste it in every bite. For just about the price of a fast food burger, Southwells offers a much tastier option if you have the time.

Hopdoddy originated in Austin and opened in the new River Oaks District in late May. The restaurant focuses on making in-house and using all natural ingredients. The style of the restaurant is very modern with a large bar in the middle and booths and raised tables surrounding it. Flat screen TV’s hang from the walls with current sports game playing. Hopdoddy’s unique take on burgers goes further than just the usual combinations.

The Magic Shroom burger, for example, consists of goat cheese, mushrooms, pesto, lettuce, onion and tomato and is a personal favorite of mine. The bottom bun was very crispy and the top bun was soft yet firm. Another particular thing about Hopdoddy is it’s shake menu. Along with the usual chocolate and vanilla flavors, Oreo cookie, caramel and sea salt, red velvet cake, and nutella and chocolate pretzel flavors are an excellent accompaniment to the gourmet burgers. Prices range from $7 to $12. The atmosphere of the restaurant and the taste of the burgers and shakes makes it worth every penny.

Pappas Burger is part of Pappas Restaurants, Inc. a private family-owned company based in Houston. Expect crowds on weekends, but service is fast and it’s still easy to get in and out for a quick meal. The theme of the restaurant is a rustic diner mixed with a sports bar. Vintage posters of sports teams and numerous televisions line the walls.

The mushroom swiss burger, stacked with condiments more so than the offerings at Hopdoddy and Southwells, starts with a half-pound beef patty. It lies on a bed of thick, crispy fries that accompanies the burger well. The melted swiss cheese covers the meat with condiments spread evenly throughout. Prices here range from $13 to $15. Along with the burgers, Pappas has an impressive specialty menu for drinks and desserts including shakes, floats, and sundaes. Pappas Burger is a go-to destination for a quick, delicious, meaty burger.

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Colin Monteith, Author

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Houston by the Burger