50 Burgers, 50 Days: Billy's on Burnet

A burger a day all around Austin, plus and answer to the pressing question: Fries or rings?
Day 47: Billy’s on Burnet
2105 Hancock Drive. 407-9305, www.billysonburnet.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday-Saturday. Noon to midnight Sunday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 09.26.11
The burger: If you’re at Billy’s on a Tuesday or Wednesday, I don’t know how you’d have time to think about food. On Tuesdays, Texas pints are $2.75, and on Wednesdays, the whole tap wall’s $2.75. That means a pearled cloud of Circle Brewing’s Blur hefeweizen or an  IPA from 512 or Dogfish Head all cost less than most places charge for Bud Light. I doubt that special price extends to an ebony draft of Black Metal Stout, a lunchtime hammer in a glass for $6.25. That beer calls for a Cobra Burger ($8.50/third-pounder), with bacon and grilled jalapeños and spicy chipotle mayo. Cheddar cheese coats the beef and bacon like a Green Bay snowfall, and a floury Kaiser roll keeps it together. The Cobra gets most of its personality from those peppers, because a little time on the flat-top grill gives them a dry, charred heat that pickled jalapeños can’t touch. Until 2 p.m. on Mondays, the quarter-pound Cobra with fries or salad is $6.99.
Fries or rings? I feel sorry for bartenders who take food orders these days, with everybody going on about, “Do you make that here? Where do you source your beef? Is that free-range lettuce?” But that’s the only way to find out the fried green tomatoes, onion rings and french fries arrive frozen at Billy’s. You couldn’t tell it from the fries, which show a little skin and come out crisp and smoking hot. They’re included in the burger price and sell by the basket for $3.50. But the bartender didn’t seem to mind my questions, and he recommended veggie chili, made in-house with at least three kinds of beans and crowned with melted cheese. My daughter and I were splitting the burger basket, and he split the side of chili into two small cups and charged us only $1 extra. I’ve always said that the best vegetarian chili is the kind with meat, and Billy’s agreed that day. We talked veggie and the ticket says veggie, so I’ll chalk it up to a misread in the kitchen. I’ll take it any day over onion rings off a truck.
A veggie chili correction, from Alex Walston, an owner at Billy's: "Just wanted to let you know that based on the photo evidence you did get the veggie chili. Our meat chili has no beans in it, and based on the pictures - I see beans! It does have a ground meatless in it which has a meaty texture. Just thought I'd share that you did indeed have veggie chili." (My apologies for the mistake. I was completely, and deliciously, taken in by the texture. — Mike)
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)