Decemburger: Luke's Inside Out
First came 50 Burgers, 50 Days. Then Novemburger. 2011 wraps up with a burger a day for Decemburger.
Day 20: Luke’s Inside Out
1109 S. Lamar Blvd. next to the Gibson bar. 589-8883, www.lukesinsideout.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday. 5-11 p.m. daily, later on weekends. Sunday brunch from about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 12.20.11
Luke Bibby’s been a rock show caterer for almost 20 years, a real-live restaurant cook (Granite Cafe, Malaga, 612 West) and an Austin City Limits burger-stand man. Luke’s Inside Out is the trailer extension of all that, an idea he set in motion about the time his friend and fellow cook Raymond Tatum was working on his own Three Little Pigs trailer.
In the run-up to both of their openings last year, I ate lunch with them at the East Side Drive In trailer court. We had meatloaf and greens from Ugly Banjos, which has since closed, and fish and chips from Bits & Druthers, still wearing its Union Jack like armor in the same spot. One thing Bibby took away was not to bother with fries if they came from a bag. That’s changed. But his unhinged approach to sandwich making hasn’t changed a bit. Spicy Asian chicken with wasabi slaw, pulled pork with peaches and gouda, a 50-50 split of falafel and veggie protein with eggplant.
Luke’s takes a loose, festival approach to your food, and some people might find that uncomfortable. Lots of bare hands on proteins and relishes, lots of untidy Twister games of ingredients, like beef and chorizo and pimiento cheese and peppers all piled on one fleeting burger special. I’d advise against wearing your good shirt, but the well-dressed bar-hoppers at the Gibson next door don’t seem fazed by it at all. They’re ordering Luke’s food from a cashier inside the bar, especially in squirrelly weather. The Gibson seems happy to welcome Luke’s refugees with $2 Pearls, $4.50 Anchor Steams and cocktails with names like Oak and Coke or the Horse Feather.
The burger: Luke’s burger ($8.25) is a thick handful of fresh beef fried on the flat-top with melted cheddar, then mounted on a grill-toasted muffaletta bun with soft bacon, ruby tomatoes, baby spinach, red onion and an amber dressing Bibby calls “Love Sauce.” It’s wrapped tightly in white paper then cut cleanly in half like a sub sandwich. Once the wrapper’s off, so are the gloves. Black pepper rolls from the beef with vengeance, and every inmate in the asylum tries to escape. If you can round them up, they actually work well as a team, a team that needs a good hosing down afterward.
Fries or rings? Remember Bibby’s resolve to stay away from frozen fries? That’s all out the window now (trailer pun), with crinkle-cut fries that he dresses with the same South Austin abandon he brings to sandwich-making. Want chile-cheese fries with your burger instead of the chips it usually comes with? Add $1.50 and brace for big festival queso, bacon and embarrassing amounts of chopped green chiles. A basket all to yourself is $5. For another side, roll with the alterna-flow and get a pair of skewers racked with barbecued chicken, smoked sausage and sliced brisket with Shiner Bock barbecue sauce for $8. It’s easily a half-pound of meat on a bed of baby spinach dressed with euphoric smoked beet and onion dressing, and the meat’s as good as most roadside barbecue stands.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)