100 Austin Burgers: Porter Ale House & Gastropub

Porter Ale House & Gastropub
3715 S. First St., Austin (map), 512-291-6299, www.porteraustin.com
Hours: Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm Tue-Fri; Brunch 10:30am-2:30pm Sat-Sun; Dinner 5-10pm Tue-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 04.27.16
Mixed-use development is the Austin dream, one that frequently devolves into new residential units with empty ground floors. Porter Ale House puts the dream into action, giving the condo dwellers at the Tree complex a place for good draft beer, burgers, cocktails, steak frites, even spaghetti and pieroghies. But with free public parking in the attached garage, there’s room for the rest of us, too.
 Porter Burger: My first thought when I saw potato chips stacked on this burger was, “grown-up kid’s crunch burger.” And it is. But it’s so much more, starting with a high-top brioche bun with buttery layers and a thick, amorphous mound of ground beef cheek and brisket shaggy with seared grill bits cooling to rosy mid-rare at its center. There’s bacon, but it’s pancetta, curled with heat and porky-sweet like a charcuterie showpiece. There’s cheese, but it’s full-rind brie, so musky you’ll second-guess your clean shirt. Suspiciously funky, but in that way we like with good cheese. Yep, an adult version of a potato-chip burger, laid out on a wooden cutting board. ($15 with fries; available only at dinner. There’s a slider version on the lunch menu.)
 On the side: Dusted with seasoned salt, served hot and crisp, these skin-on fries from a freezer bag are the gastropub equivalent of bar popcorn: something crunchy and salty to keep the thirst alive.
 Wash it down: The draft cocktail is not my favorite invention, but the time-tested Moscow Mule seems to thrive in that pre-mixed environment. Ginger beer, vodka, lime. Always refreshing, hard to mess up. Local or not, calling it Tito’s Mule is not a selling point for me, with Tito’s loose interpretation of “Handmade” and the dubious ability to stay out of sight in almost any vodka drink. But jalapeño and strawberry are selling points for this mule, a little heat and sweet for an adult limeade to freshen up any burger ($9/$7 happy hour Tue-Thu 3:30-7pm). I’ll leave you on your own to try the Banana Nut Old Fashioned or Earl Grey-infused Port of Manhattan. Porter lives up to “Ale House” with two dozen beers on draft, from local craft beers (512, Independence, Real Ale) to rarer gems like Czech Staropramen and Belgian Pauwel Kwak in half-yard glasses.
100 Austin Burgers
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)