50 Burgers, 50 Days: Short Stop

A burger a day all around Austin, plus an answer to the pressing question: fries or rings?
Day 20: Short Stop
1144 Airport Blvd. 928-1010.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 08.30.11
The burger: Bacon cheeseburger combo ($5.59 with fries and drink): Short Stop lives to serve the automobile. Drive-throughs on both sides, a constant swirl of motion. And indecision, because the drivers  can’t read the menu until they’re right at the speaker and the stage fright sets in. To approach the makeshift walk-up window at this tan and red box is to acknowledge one of two things: You work in the nearby shopping center or things have not gone well for you today.
This Short Stop knows how to move cars. The bag was in my hand the minute I handed over the money, which tells me this tough, flat hamburger patty was already cooked when I drove up, just waiting to be assembled with the most humble shredded lettuce, cheese tomatoes and mayonnaise money can buy on a nicely toasted bun, plus bendable bacon that I pulled off after just one bite. Fast, yes. Friendly, you bet. Hot? As hot as the roof of my car. None of it counts for much if the burger can’t do better than this.
Fries or rings? Just fries. Just the kind out of a bag, as uniform in color and texture as toothpicks in a box. An apple pie for variety maybe, but not on this tripidigital day. A cherry limeade tastes nice, one of the retro array of sodas you can get with the combo meal you never should have ordered in the first pace.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)



"I think it's fairly agreed upon that there is wide variation in Short Stop's in Austin. When I read your description of being handed a bag upon ordering, I knew that didn't jibe with my experience at the one located at 183/Duval, where I have always had them cooked to order. And pretty damn great too." — Larry Holt