50 Burgers, 50 Days: TerraBurger

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

Day 10: TerraBurger
10611 Research Blvd. 382-5864, www.terraburgeraustin.com.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 08.20.11
UPDATE: TerraBurger has closed.
The burger: In happier circumstances, this would be a wonderland off U.S. 183: rows of picnic tables on rocks and granite and mulch under shade trees, with slides and forts for the kids and an air-conditioned old Capital Metro Dillo shuttle for escaping the elements. Next to it is the boxy TerraBurger, with two walkup windows and a drive-through, like a concession stand at a public pool. But in the crucible of summer, it’s a challenging model for dining al fresco.
TerraBurger makes its name with words like natural and organic. What they don’t add up to is a burger worth $6, almost $7 with cheese. Sloppy with mayonnaise and shredded lettuce, at its core the TerraBurger (other choices include Thousand Island and Hickory) is a third-pound of pale brown beef that for all its pedigree doesn’t taste markedly different than most walk-up burgers, except that mine was saltier. The bun was flaky and frayed at the edges as if it had arisen from batter, and it was the best thing going here, except for the breeze.
Fries or rings? You’ve got your choice of hand-cut regular or sweet potato fries. I gambled on sweet and lost. Flabby and mottled orange-brown, they were undercooked by half and as loose-limbed as Red Vines. I stopped after just a few and went to my backup plan, a baby-size shake made with mint chocolate chip ice cream for $2.99. Even at the pickup window, it wasn’t dense enough to stand a spoon, and the sun made short work of it.