500 Tacos: Hat Creek Burger Company

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Hat Creek Burger Company
5400 Burnet Road (map), 512-452-2025, www.hatcreekburgers.com
Hours: 7am-9pm Sun-Thu; 7am-9:30pm Fri-Sat; breakfast served until 10:30am
Also at: 5902 Bee Caves Road (map); 3700 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock (map); 201 San Gabriel Village Blvd., Georgetown (map)
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 07.24.15
 
The original Hat Creek Burger Company — well, unless you count Drew Gressett’s first burger trailer — was a charmed repurposing of an old Arby’s on Burnet Road, and that company’s giant hat sign fit Hat Creek like a ... glove? It’s undergone a complete transformation, sheathed in stylish polished wood and red paint, with a mammoth tube slide and playground to distract the kids while you drink good Belgian-style beer from Austin’s Strange Land Brewery. It takes a lot to keep up in Austin’s explosive burger market right now, and for Hat Creek that includes taking breakfast — and breakfast tacos — seriously.
 
The taco: Eggs, avocado and jalapeño sauerkraut
You read that right: jalapeño sauerkraut on a breakfast taco. It’s not on the taco menu, per se, but once you find out that Hat Creek pickles its own tangy, crunchy blend of cabbage, carrots and peppers, it’s worth asking for every time. The sauerkraut adds zest to the rich protein jolt of freshly scrambled eggs and creamy avocado. Breakfast tacos are $2.99 for eggs and two more ingredients. The specialty sauerkraut counts as two ingredients. Add 50 cents for avocado and 29 cents for a doubled-up corn tortilla, and you’re into this taco for $3.78. But it’s worth it.
 
 
 Bacon and eggs: Hat Creek makes a righteous bacon cheeseburger, so bacon’s an easy call. It’s thick, fatty, smoky and cooked just shy of crisp, then chopped to spread evenly through the eggs. Add crunch and color with freshly chopped red bell pepper. ($2.99)
 Tortillas: Flour, corn and wheat tortillas are outsourced, but the flour is as glossy, thin and pliant as handmade. Can’t say the same for the plain white corn tortillas. I paid extra to double them up, but they fell apart in the foil. Here’s where Hat Creek steps up: Employees work the floor to check on customers, and when one spotted my tortilla-geddon, she shepherded the taco back to the kitchen for a do-over. It came back with three tortillas, as strong as a flak jacket.
 Your low-carb companion: Hat Creek’s jalapeño sauerkraut is the star of a Big Protein breakfast platter with avocado, bacon or sausage and two eggs any style, including over-easy, cooked glossy gold and spiced with a robust pepper blend. ($4.99)
 Coffee break: P. Terry’s hitched its craft coffee wagon to Ruta Maya. Hat Creek went with Cuvee. In this fight for the best cup of burger chain coffee for less than $2, you win.
 Salsa: Given Hat Creek’s peppery-sweet Hat Sauce or its rich, mustardy Happy Sauce, the easy play would have been condiment-pack “picante sauce.” Nope. Hat Creek’s tomatillo green salsa is among Austin’s best, a brilliant collection of garlic, mild pepper heat and the same kind of twangy vinegar swerve that makes the sauerkraut so good.
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)