100 Austin Burgers: BurgerFi
5701 W. Slaughter Lane, Austin (map), 512-382-7847, www.burgerfi.com
Hours: 11am-10pm daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.23.16
With 83 locations across 24 states, BurgerFi is among the most corporate in this series. Who am I to argue with “The Burgerfication of the Nation”? Well, first we’ll argue about these slider-size burgers at full-size prices. Then we’ll talk about the big, clean dining space with stainless steel tables and chairs, polished concrete floors and more motivational posters than an insurance office. Even the trash bins are steel-cut logo boxes. But we’ll also give some credit for a decent veggie burger, hand-cut fries and rings and a twist on In-N-Out culture called “Alternative Style.”
► Conflicted Burger: The standard BurgerFi burger is a double, probably to make up for its diminutive dinner-roll bun, branded with the BurgerFi logo like a tattooed toddler. It’s $5.97, with tough beef patties as smudged, shaggy and salty as Jack Sparrow. BurgerFi’s veggie burger, on the other hand, is a tan and crisp quinoa patty like moist, herbal fried stuffing. And so when I saw the Conflicted Burger— with one beef patty and one veggie patty — I thought of Ross from “Friends” and his Moistmaker sandwich, the one with stuffing in the middle. And it works exactly that way, with the quinoa, corn and carrot softening the impact of the cranky beef. It’s finished with white cheddar and yellow American cheeses, a schmear of tangy-sweet Thousand Island-style sauce, with whatever lettuce tomatoes and onions you can keep between those saccharine dollhouse buns. ($7.47)
► On the side: I remember in the ‘70s when Jack in the Box introduced Frings: fries and rings together. Revolutionary. BurgerFi ramps up both the quality and the cleverness with the Cry+Fry ($5.47). They take an overflowing boat of hand-cut, skin-on fries with real earthy character, then make it top heavy by adding three oversized onion rings with smooth, bubbled crusts that remind me of spicy pork rinds. The fries are already near the top of their game, but I went with one of many custom editions, this one called “Alternative Style,” with melted cheese, grilled onions, BurgerFi sauce and mustard for just 97 cents.
► Wash it down: To keep up with Austin’s burger market, BurgerFi pours wine and draft beer. It also makes shakes and Blizzard-like creations called Concretes. Or for $4.47, you’ll get a bottle of real-sugar Boylan soda and thick, creamy frozen custard from the soft-serve machine for an ice cream float that will trigger your Wayback Machine. Start with root beer and vanilla.
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(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)