MEET THE TASTEMAKERS
San Antonio's 10 best burgers are smashing the competition
What makes a great burger is subjective. Some love the simplicity of quality meat paired with a blanket of American cheese; some marvel at the architecture of a half-dozen ingredients piled to Dagwood heights. Whatever the personal preference, no other American dish quite creates the electricity of a patty meeting a bun.
The 10 nominees for the Tastemaker Award for Best Burger all have a different approach. Any could reign supreme, but only one will take home the coveted trophy. Thank goodness we have time to consider every nuance before crowning the winner on May 18 at the Briscoe Museum.
Sample, savor, and chow down on a variety of sliders during the event before voting for your favorite during the Burger Throwdown, presented by Goodstock by Nolan Ryan. Get your tickets to the event now and make your vote count.
From puffy tacos to Hot Cheetos elotes, San Antonio gets down with the crunch. Why should a burger be any different? This iconic burger joint is at its loudest, with a tostada burger topped with refried beans and a dollop of freshly made salsa. We have the ASMR chills already.
One of the most luxe burgers on this list, Loretta's signature snack piles crispy prosciutto, Manchego cheese, arugula, and grilled red onion onto a buttery brioche bun. In a Pygmalion twist, the base is a humble smash patty— proving a dish does not need provenance to be the belle of the ball.
Bunz Handcrafted Burgers
Coco Chanel may have reached fashion perfection by taking one thing off before leaving the door. Still, she probably wasn't much fun in the kitchen. The two locations of this local mini-chain live by the adage that more is more, stabbing their towering creations with skewers. That maximalism peaks with the Bunzai, a thicket of Asian barbecue ribs and coleslaw.
Call her mother. An elder of San Antonio's first burger family, Diana Madrid is still teaching the children with a no-nonsense approach to the craft. With a salt-and-pepper shake and a slap of gooey cheese, her burgers snatch the crown from the city'scity's most preening creations.
Gastropubs live and die by their burgers, so we can'tcan't blame this downtown bar for going a little over the top. The patty proves the rule of threes with freshly ground bacon, brisket, and short rib. The toppings vroom-vroom with tangy cheese, caramelized onions, and a slick of Dijonnaise.
Last Place Burger
Maybe owner Mark Villareal stumbled upon a djinn. It seems impossible that five simple ingredients could produce so much flavor. We do know that one of our three wishes would be a never-ending supply of this food truck's astoundingly great OG burger.
What is it about Marks and San Antonio burgers? Mark Outing has been defining the game for 15 years with endless variations on the form. The ice cream burger grabs the most headlines (and it is improbably good). Still, the Original Fatty's — a colossus with all the usual fixings — proves the power of simple things done right.
Before opening this fast-casual spot, Andrew Weissman defined the city's fine dining scene. So, it's only natural that he snuck in country club au poivre as a more everyday "wet" sauce. It smashingly compliments the beef patty's char and is just as good at coating a fry. Who are we to deserve such luxury?
This ramshackle restaurant has always been a standard-bearer in using quality ingredients, sourcing from regenerative ranches and local farms. That ethos melds most deliciously in the Blue Bison. The funk of bleu cheese grounds the subtle sweetness of the patty. A thick slab of bacon drizzled with chipotle mayo then proves where there is smoke, there's fire.
The Juicy Lucy is a classic for a reason, but it ain't got nothing on Tycoon Flat's Texas take on the stuffed burger. There are five variations, but it's hardest to resist the one crammed with cheddar, Applewood smoked bacon, grilled onion, and honey barbecue sauce. Minnesotans could never!