50 Burgers, 50 Days: Moonie's Burger House

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

Day 9: Moonie’s Burger House
12001 Burnet Road. 837-5400, www.mooniesburgerhouse.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 08.19.11
The burger: Blue Moon ($5.49). The fourth location of this North Austin mini-chain opened this summer to fill the space left by Maggie’s Cafe in a strip center that includes Mangia Pizza, Alonti Catering Cafe and a newly expanded Tacodeli. The other Moonie’s locations are counter operations, but they come to your table here, with a level of happy that’s refreshingly out of whack with typical burger-shop theater. The burgers are like theater in two acts, one side beef, the other chicken, with bacon and blue cheese and guacamole and chili uniting the casts on both sides of the menu. My Blue Moon burger didn’t shine they way it did when I reviewed Moonie’s in 2010.
Blue cheese and bacon should be enough to carry any burger worth its beef, but salt spoiled the party. Not from the beef or the bacon, but the blue cheese. So much salt that it drowned out the funk that draws us to blue cheese in the first pace. The salt highlighted something else: just how sweet the Moonie’s bun is, like one of those State Fair doughnut burgers. I left the two alpha tastes to shove each other around and tried the Western (barbecue sauce, bacon, onion ring) and a mushroom-Swiss burger. Both were better than the Moon, and they had no right to be. None of the three were cooked to the closer-to-medium-rare we asked for. I drowned my chagrin in a bottle of Blue Moon, the beer. Any bottle in the house — Fat Tire, Firemans, Shiner, Sierra Nevada — is only $2.50, and during a daily happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., those bottles are just $2.
Fries or rings? Both of them are battered and shaggy, and either one will fill the starchy wingman role. For overall effect, it’s a draw, so I’ll take the value line and pick fries for $1.89 over rings for $2.99. A dark-horse option might be a big Frito pie for $3.99, but that’s for sharing, and only with people who don’t mind a little chili on your chin.

(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)