100 Austin Burgers: Boat House Grill

Boat House Grill
6812 RR 620 N., Austin (map), 512-249-5200, www.boathousegrill.com
Hours: 11am-9pm Sun-Thu; 11am-9:30pm Fri-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 06.06.16
With vintage boat motors on the walls, Jimmy Buffett on the stereo and kids skittering on the loose rocks under bright umbrellas in the courtyard, the Boat House Grill feels less like a burger shack on a congested suburban road and more like, you know, a grill at a boat house. The food’s that way, too, with wide and flat burgers heavy on the mustard and onions, beer in longneck bottles and the philosophy that if it grows in the ground, batter and fry that sucker.
 Bacon Jalapeño Cheeseburger: There are so many good things about this burger. The sloppy dress of torn lettuce, tomatoes, good dill pickles and lots of white onions. The smooshed picnic bun, the fiery grilled jalapeño slices and the gooey melted American cheese. I can even appreciate the simple gifts of salty beef cooked down gray and chewy. But I could lose the flabby, barely cooked bacon and the $10 pricetag for a premium burger that doesn’t hold up its end of the deal. ($9.99 with fries)
 On the side: The burger comes with crisp, shaggy, double-dipped fries. But the Boat House does its best fryer work with zucchini, whole mushrooms, pickle chips, onions and green tomatoes. Each one tastes like the veggie at its core, cased in crunchy, clean-tasting armor with the right amount of salt. The fried green tomatoes take a detour with cornmeal breading for a version of this Southern favorite that goes above and beyond burger-shop standards. Served with dressing so runny that an artisan joint would call it “drinking ranch.” ($5.99/$9.99 for a fried sampler basket) Note: I’d take the “hand-breaded” claims with a grain of salt; I watched more than just fries go straight from freezer bag to fryer.
 Wash it down: The Boat House represents Austin with Lost Gold and Firemans #4 from Real Ale, plus the usual longneck suspects. Sweet tea, shakes and floats with IBC root beer uphold the family values.
 Just because: Surely you’ve done something today that warrants a soft-serve swirl of creamy chocolate and vanilla. All I did was show up at the Boat House with $1.85. Turns out that was enough.
100 Austin Burgers
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)