100 Austin Burgers: Cedar Door
Hours: 11am-1am Mon-Fri; Non-2am Sat-Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 02.19.16
In the days when I could only afford a single Shiner longneck after my copy desk shift at the American-Statesman, the Cedar Door was a journalists’ bar near where the Convention Center is now. Then it moved over by the Seaholm Power Plant, and finally to this spot at Second and Brazos. The Cedar Door has fared better in its migratory wanderings than its old newspaper clientele, but I’ll trade one-beer nostalgia for a burger and a Mexican martini any day.
► Brazos: I appreciate any burger that can meet the challenge of medium-rare. The Brazos rises to the challenge with a half-pound of freshly ground beef that leaves “juicy” behind on its way to full fatty crockpot splendor. The beef is euphorial in its lushness, but the crockpot metaphor also works against it, with the same bland seasoning that characterizes the single-dad dinner. Extra points for sharp leaf lettuce and red onions, ripe tomatoes and real Cheddar, with a light challah bun that brings bakery character without sweetness. Points off for shards of overcooked hangover bacon. ($11 with fries, plus $2 for bacon)
► On the side: The menu advertises Kennebec fries, a potato respected for its hand-waxed finish and dense infrastructure. The Cedar Door cuts its own shoestring fries from that potato, and they’re hot and sturdy enough to stand up to bar traffic, even if their dry resolve doesn’t take full advantage of the spuds they come from.
► Mexican martini: Now that I can afford more than one Shiner longneck, I can spring for the Mexican martini that’s given the Cedar Door its outsized reputation. The drink itself — an iced-down margarita with the frat burn of mid-shelf tequila and the cling of a sugary pre-mix — wouldn’t make anybody’s “Best Of” list if it weren’t for the packaging. It was among the first in town to show up in a martini glass spiked with an olive, with a plastic shaker tagging along like a boozy entourage. The shaker fills the glass almost four times, making it a volume leader at $10.
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(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)