50 Burgers, 50 Days: Hat Creek Burger Co.

A burger a day all around Austin, plus an answer
to the pressing question: fries or rings?

Day 3: Hat Creek Burger Co.
5400 Burnet Road. 452-2025, www.hatcreekburgers.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
 
By Mike Sutter / Fed Man Walking / 08.13.11
 
The burger: Big Hat ($5.29 with cheddar cheese). Former UT basketball walk-on Drew Gressett could have opened a steakhouse or a sports bar or pitched "slam-dunk deals!" on Ford trucks. What he did instead was sell cheeseburgers from a trailer on West Sixth Street until a former Arby's on Burnet Road gave him a sign to hang his Hat Creek Burgers on, along with a commissary for his Mobile Loaves and Fishes truck. The concrete-floored echo chamber of a place has all the spartan charm of a repurposed Arby's, but the burger is a custom creature, hand-shaped from Angus beef, dressed with picture-book tomatoes, red onions and crisp iceberg. Those veggies give the Hat texture, a texture reinforced by a bun thoroughly toasted. The assorted levels of crunch put the tender meat in juicy relief. The molten gloss of cheddar cheese is worth the 30-cent upcharge. Look for another Hat Creek to rise this year from the lawn where all the flamingoes used to roost at Bee Cave Road and Loop 360.
 
Fries or rings: This one's easy, seeing as how sides on Hat Creek's streamlined menu begin and end with fries ($2.19) that are cut in-house throughout the day. They're as many shades of tan as a Texas beach, showing just enough skin to make it interesting. Extend the beach metaphor with the sweet chocolate sand from a malt made with Blue Bell cookies-and-cream ($3.49/regular).

(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)

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