100 Austin Burgers: ALC Steaks
1205 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin (map), 512-472-1813, www.alcsteaks.com
Hours: Dinner 5:30-10pm Sun-Thu and 5:30-11pm Fri-Sat
Happy hour (bar only) 4-7pm Mon-Fri
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 04.11.16
Before we expected prize-winning restaurant architecture and marquee names in the kitchen, Austin Land and Cattle was there. Its twilight-dim dining room and equally dark, utilitarian bar are the untucked shirts of the Austin steakhouse scene, but that lets them keep the prices low on a freewheeling bar menu that includes burgers, steak bites, Frito pie, lamb chops, fish and chips and one of the best steak sandwiches in town. For now, we’ll focus on those steakhouse burgers.
► Redeye Burger: When is a burger not a burger? If the bun makes the burger, is half a bun enough? These are the questions begged by the Redeye, which arrives topless, except for an egg cooked sunny side up. The bottom bun is there, fried oily and crisp and soaked in smoky chipotle sauce, topped with delicately fried leafy greens. It’s the kind of greasy base we associate with morning-after hangover remedies, a cure in search of a malady. Which makes it a square peg in the round hole of the late afternoon, lost in happy hour translation except for the half-pound of beef on top. Its coral-red sear and lush steakhouse grind prove that it’s the beef, not the bun, that makes the difference. I’m thinking that beef would go better in the more traditional ALC Burger, with a regulation bun and time-tested lettuce, tomatoes and onion. ($10/$6 happy hour 4-7 Mon-Fri; available in the bar only)
► On the side: Fat slices of skin-on potatoes make a generous pile of steak fries for $2.75.
► Wash it down: Happy hour means $6 martinis, $3 bottled beers, $6 wine and a salty Mexican martini made with Giro tequila for $7.
MORE BURGERS ON FED MAN WALKING
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)