100 Austin Burgers: Cow Bells

Cow Bells
1620 E. Riverside Drive, Austin (map), 512-662-4114, www.cowbells512.com
Hours: 11am-8pm Mon-Thu; 11am-9:15pm Fri-Sat; noon-4pm Sunday
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 06.28.16
Manifest destiny compelled the University of Texas to swallow Players burger joint in 2014. But a little piece of Players lives on at Daniel Oliveira’s Cow Bells trailer off East Riverside Drive. Oliveira’s uncle Carlos Oliveira owned Players, and Daniel put in 12 years at the legendary off-campus dive, starting when he was 16. When he opened Cow Bells four years ago, the Westlake grad brought along a college degree, yellow paint, a love of Christopher Walken and more cowbell and a singular gift for customer service.
 Spare Tire: A toasted white picnic bun, salted beef that’s seared molten brown with a little color left inside, a floe of good melted cheddar. This has the makings of a classic trailer burger. Stack an extra patty, extra cheese, two strips of applewood-smoked bacon and half a fried pickle and you have the Spare Tire. Players never made a burger this good. But neither did they charge $10.50 for it. With burgers starting at $6.25 with no sides — eaten on picnic tables outdoors — you’ll have to recalibrate your trailer-burger value meter. Recalibrate it with this: Oliveira starts with fresh 83-27 chuck, seasons and blends it by hand, then presses quarter-pound patties throughout the day. It’s one of the friendliest, most basically satisfying experiences of this burger series.
 On the side: The sides still come from a freezer bag like they did at Players: regular and sweet potato fries, tots, rings and pickles. The regular fries ($3) are as fat as a pinkie finger, dusted with seasoned salt and served with spicy ranch.
 Wash it down: The South Shore Eatery is one of those BYOB gravel courtyards flanked by four trailers. Cow Bells has your basic sodas, plus Mexican Coke and Topo Chico. But if you’re in the mood, there’s coffee from the Churro Co. or shaved ice from Rockaway Beach.
100 Austin Burgers
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)