It starts with the patty — crispy and flat or juicy and thick. Then each burger maker adds his or her own stamp, layering velvety cheese, piquant sauces, and outrageous toppings or simply refining the classic form. San Antonio has no shortage of creative takes on the classic sandwich, but what does it take to upgrade good to great? We get into the meat of the matter with a list of Alamo City’s finest burgers.
The Folc burger has had so many breathless write-ups that you would think it was Beyoncé. But the good news is that all the press is well-deserved. It starts with a succulent, fist-sized brisket patty layered with two hunks of fatty pork belly and an oozing fried egg and gilded with creamy Folc sauce (basically Thousand Island for grown-ups) and a slice of American cheese. Order it with a side of guacamole and beef-loaded fries. Flawless.
Now operating out of a food truck while recovering from a fall 2017 fire, this legendary burger joint is still the gold standard. You can order hearty patties topped with bacon or American cheese, but the addictive tostado burger is where it’s at. A classic refried bean burger reinterpreted with melted cheddar, zippy salsa, and tortilla chips, it should be one of the requirements for San Antonio citizenship.
Few San Antonio concepts are as over the top as this restaurant/beer garden/live music venue/laundromat/carwash, so it’s fitting that its sustainably sourced organic burgers offer a little bit of everything, too. Try the ’09er with goat cheese, pesto aioli, and red peppers; the Latin Lover with a lamb patty topped with cotija cheese; or the Chilango with avocado, Oaxaca cheese, and smoky tamarind sauce. All are deliciously scatterbrained.
Cullum’s Attaboy Burgers
It doesn’t take much encouragement to convince a burger lover to head to Paper Tiger for one of Chris Cullum’s beefy masterworks. The food truck gives you everything you need in a burger, from the right amount of crust on the patty to the thickly sliced bacon to the lightly sweet, dense house bun that keeps everything from falling apart. For the full experience, go for the burger of the day, which can be topped with everything from thick tomato sauce, basil, and fresh mozzarella to blue cheese and a fried egg. Attaboy, indeed.
One, two, three, count ‘em. At lunch, you can get a towering triple Blue Ribbon burger and still have money left over for a new pair of elastic waist pants. But the size isn’t the only thing that stands out at this Pearl mainstay. Chef Steve McHugh makes his patty out of a blend of beef and bacon, then balances the tang of American cheese with a smear of onion jam for a burger that’s head and shoulders above the rest.
There’s almost always a line out the door at this East Side joint known for big, unfussy burgers and crispy fries. Once you get in, any of the loaded cheese, bean, or turkey burgers will do. But if you want to have a spiritual experience, order a Mayor Ed’s Mole Burger covered in a heavenly rich sauce.
Sure, it sounds a weird on paper. But owner Mark Outing was on to something when he topped a juicy cheeseburger with a scoop of fried vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice cream. It’s like having your burger, fries, and shake all in one perfect bite. If that sounds a little too extra, go with the straightforward Original Fatty’s Burger or the brisket- or sausage-topped barbecue version. Just don’t expect to get as many double taps.
You know a place with good steaks will also have one hell of a good burger, but Jason Dady’s Range knocks it out of the park. Unlike some upscale eateries, Range doesn’t pull out all the bells and whistles. But with lusciously marbled beef from Cameron, Texas' cult producer 44 Farms, it still speaks loud and clear.