What makes a good burger?

This week I got my husband to take me to one of my favorite places for lunch. Tookie’s which specializes in burgers has been a Clear Lake institution since the 1970s. It suffered a fairly long hiatus after hurricane Ike in September 2008.

The building severely flooded and the cost of bringing it back was too much for the owners. So it was closed for nearly 3 years. Some staff opened another burger place down the road. I tried it but IMHO, it didn’t compare. Then about a year ago another local business owner bought the place, refurbished and reopened it with the old menu. So what makes their burgers so good? Well one reason is that they use fresh ingredients. Another is that they make unique flavors: Squealer, Stomp’s Ice House Special, BBQ Burger and Chili Cheeseburger. The last is that they let you have them the way you want them. What this means is if you want to tweak a burger you can. In my case that means no mayo, or lettuce and add pepperjack cheese on my Stomp’s Ice House Special.

In addition to the great burgers, Tookie’s boasts patio seating and awesome onion rings. If you want to grab a bite here you need to either come during off hours – that means early or late for lunch, or be willing to wait. Some locals say it isn’t quite the same as before the storm but for me it is the place to get my burger fix. I typically order a burger and only eat half. I take the other half home with me.

If I’m in town then Little Bigs in the place for burgers. More specifically sliders: four different varieties to meet lots of different tastes. Like Tookie’s, Little Bigs has great outdoor seating. But their killer side is their french fries. They also have tasty milk shakes. Parking can be abysmal. If it is busy your best bet is to park in the nearby neighborhood and walk up.

When I don’t want to go out, I like to make burgers with ground buffalo or regular burger from a local meat vendor at the farmers market. When I’m feeling like splurging on calories, I make bacon cheeseburgers with bacon from the same vendor. One reason I make burgers with meat from the farmer’s market is that I like my burgers medium-rare. I just don’t trust the grocery store meat enough to prepare them this way. If I’m not preparing a bacon cheeseburger, I often make my own version of the Stomp’s Ice House Special. This consists of

1 Toasted Whole wheat bun
2 slices of tomato
1 slice of pepperjack cheese
1/4 lb grilled patty of ground beef or buffalo
2 tbs of Pan sauted onions and pickled jalapenos
Picante salsa
Slices of avocado

If I’m feeling like being a vegetarian for a given meal, I make a spicy black bean burger

1 Toasted Whole wheat bun
2 slices of tomato
1 slice of muenster cheese
1 Morningstar Black bean burger
1 tsp of Siracha sauce
Slices of avocado

One nice thing about the black bean burger is that I don’t have to fire up the grill to make it. Instead I can easily cook it in a pan in the house. This saves me time at lunch and also keeps my from getting soaked in a midday Houston shower.

Really what makes a good burger is being able to have one that suits your fancy on any given day. The great thing is that burgers aren’t rocket science. If you’re trying to find one that suits you then you might consider experimenting by making sliders. That way you can find the right combination to fit your taste buds.

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