100 Austin Burgers: Cafe No Se

Café No Sé
1603 S. Congress Ave. at the South Congress Hotel, Austin (map), 512-942-2061, www.cafenoseaustin.com
Hours: 7am-10pm Sun-Wed; 7am-midnight Thu-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 02.24.16
Like any full-service hotel, the new South Congress Hotel has guests to feed morning, noon and night. And when those guests need breakfast, a light lunch or a burger alongside one of Austin’s premiere pedestrian parade routes, the hotel answers with Café No Sé. Floor-to-ceiling windows face the street, casting sidelight on tables so close together you could call it communal dining. The weathered wood walls and wide plank-and-honeycomb tile floors bounce sound like a diner. And while you’d never confuse Caé No Sé with a diner — think Second Bar + Kitchen if it were south of the river instead of downtown — it makes a cheeseburger that rises above its cultivated counterculture environment. Look for No Sé and its sister restaurant Central Standard in both the Month of Sundays brunch series and Fed Man Walking’s 100 Burgers.
 No Sé cheeseburger: Two things you might not expect from the No Sé burger’s menu description: First is the double meat and double cheese, albeit cheap American yellow. Second is that fries are included in the price. Further down the unexpected path is that it’s good beef, thick and juicy, with a good sear and a pink center. The buttermilk sesame bun is baked in-house, and it’s dense and sturdy enough to absorb those juices, getting better as they soak in. Otherwise the dress is spartan. Just onions, mayo and sweet-tart bread-and-butter pickles. But the result is a solid diner-style burger. And not a bad value with fries at $13. But a $4 upcharge for two half-slices of bacon — described as a “slab” — dulls that value buzz, even with good, smoky stuff like this. Available on weekdays for lunch from 11-5 and during weekend brunch from 10-5. ($13 with fries, plus $4 for bacon)
 On the side: The fries had already started to cool and soften by the time the burger hit the table. But even in that half-life stage, these hand-cut fries still had some body and a good salt-to-starch ratio. I’ll bet they were hot back in the day. (Included in burger price)
 Something to wash it down: Café No Sé makes a michelada worth mentioning, iced down with a spicy chile and tomato blend that makes even a can of Modelo a good choice for a late-lunch cooldown. ($6)
100 Austin Burgers
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)