100 Austin Burgers: Burger Bar
Hours: 11am-8pm daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 02.22.16
The new JW Marriott hotel at Second and Congress — sitting on top of what used to be Las Manitas — is a towering symbol of emerging Austin. Rooms touch the $300 mark, there’s a posh trattoria called Osteria Pronto, and $14 will buy short-rib tacos at the hotel’s Texas-themed Corner restaurant. But the hotel’s Burger Bar gets back to street level with a simple menu of burgers, fries and shakes without the Marriott markup, acknowledging both the city’s denim workshirt roots and its emerging downtown identity as a place to work, live ... and eat.
► Big Mouth Burger: The beauty of a sidewalk burger is the immediacy of the experience. You order, wait and eat within feet of the grill, the fryers, the assembly line. The downside is that you see the machinery behind the magic, like burger patties cooked and held in a bin at the back of the grill and bacon pulled from a pan rather than hot off the grill. The Burger Bar is built for speed, and so it’s surprising the burger that comes from it works so well. The Big Mouth is a sloppy tower built on a compressed foundation of toasted white buns, stacked with two compact beef patties seasoned with salt and pepper, then loaded with two slices of good Cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato, sweet jalapeño slices, a sweet sauce like Thousand Island, stiff slices of bacon and mild, blistered green peppers. ($6.25)
► On the side: Pencil-thin fries from a bag, with patches of skin for color. There’s nothing beyond the fast-food standard to recommend them, especially with orders stacked under heatlamps waiting their turn, getting cooler and softer by the minute. ($2.25)
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(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)