50 Burgers, 50 Days: In the Buns Burger Joint

A burger a day all around Austin, plus an answer to the pressing question: fries or rings?
Day 12: In the Buns Burger Joint
13776 Research Blvd., No. 142. 258-1011, Facebook page here.
Hours: 10:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 08.22.11
The burger: Fajita burger ($5.59). One of the best burgers I had in 2009 was at a taqueria called the Screaming Goat. Outstanding queso, too, thick enough to stand up fresh-fried chips as sturdy as dinosaur scales. So when the queso ($2.99) at In the Buns Burger Joint showed up with those same character traits, I had a good thought for the Goat, which closed quietly earlier this year.
That was more than a good thought. It was like a bolt of prescience. Because the guy who started the Goat is the same David Sahagun who sold that business in December to start In the Buns, which opened in April. The queso is his uncle’s recipe. And the burger in this report was even better than its taqueria cousin.
Sahagun and general manager Rick Galaviz — also a veteran Goat herder — start with fresh ground beef, then stuff it with cheddar cheese before it hits the grill with bell peppers and onions. It’s a burger of molten dynamics, amplified by guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo in a thick-fibered bun with a golden-baked crown. It’s a groaner, meaning you’ll make noise as you bite down, compounding the inappropriate public display of your drippy, marginal table manners.
But In the Buns is a forgiving environment, with a chain-link fence separating the grill space from the main room and art on the walls from the creative group South Austin Soul blending elements of graffiti, skatepunk and speed metal. Building on that cutting-edge design aesthetic is a family totem of blue-black tattoo artwork that winds around Sahagun’s arms.
He’s a pro with 14 years of restaurant experience. But what’s with that name, In the Buns? Sahagun said that unlike the beef-or-chicken burgers at most paces, his shop emphasizes the choices of what you can put between a hamburger bun: beef, veggie, portobello mushroom, turkey, tilapia or chicken. Between the Screaming Goat and In the Buns, Sahagun is a master of names just confounding enough to draw attention on their own.
Fries or rings? French fries are cut in-house and won’t win prizes for glamour or uniformity. But they’re hot, salted right and carry you through a few good levels of texture, with some like home-fries and some like English chips. Instead of onion rings for $2.89, I’d go the extra dime for queso and spend a minute remembering good times at the Goat.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking. Top: In the Buns owner David Sahagun, left, and general manager Rick Galaviz. Inset: Queso and a Maine Root vanilla cream soda. The soda fountain at In the Buns carries seven flavors of Maine Root plus Dublin Dr Pepper.)