50 Burgers, 50 Days: Red's Porch

A burger a day all around Austin, plus an answer to the pressing question: Fries or rings?
Day 44: Red’s Porch
3508 S. Lamar Blvd. 440-7337, www.redsporch.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Friday. 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday. Kitchen open until 11 p.m. daily.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 09.23.11
The burger: A weekday lunch here feels like a lazy Sunday. The top perch of this sectional urban chicken coop is packed, cooled to a comfortable breeze by industrial fans. There’s sports on the TVs, Creedence on the stereo and Hans’ Pils from Real Ale at a dollar off during an 11-7 happy hour. along with other select Texas drafts. Don’t we all have somewhere we’re supposed to be? (Yes, right here.)
I’ll say something about the Smokey Goat ($9.95) burger you won’t read about burgers very often: It’s a layered lunch, like the stacked decks and retro outdoor seating areas of Red’s itself. This burger hits you first with paper-thin fried onions and a half-sweet jalapeño sourdough bun with slow heat. Then comes the smoke of bacon, followed by the more subtle cheesecake jolt of chevre. Finally, there’s no denying the half-pound of beef that gives the whole thing weight and form. It’s cooked a light medium, and I only wish it had a more aggressive sear to add a little hit of the grill to the layers. That jalapeño bun is too thin for the load it’s asked to carry, and the top sits like a vainglorious combover on that prominent crown of condiments.
Fries or rings? The beer-battered onion rings here are fine, but I never pass up the macaroni and cheese, a nice sized baking dish that’s yours for $1.75 extra as part of the burger basket, a worthy substitute for fries. It doesn’t just lie there in the dish; it challenges you with a graveled crust of breadcrumbs over elbows of macaroni just thick enough to stay on your fork. More than one of you? During that same 11-7 happy hour, an order of chili cheese fries is half off the $7.95 price tag, a wide red dish with crispy fries sprinkled with salt and dusky red spice, a thin ladle of Red’s queso and a finish of all-meat chili with a familiar dark-drown bite. The result is a salty overdose, one that calls for something else to drink. Like a saison from Independence, something to bridge these outdoor days between the super-hot and the merely hot.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)