Decemburger: Maxine's on Main

First came 50 Burgers, 50 Days. Then Novemburger. 2011 wraps up with a burger a day for Decemburger.
Day 27: Maxine’s on Main
905 Main St., Bastrop. 512-303-0919,
Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 12.27.11
I had to circle the block before I found a parking place, because on a weekday at lunchtime, Bastrop was full. Somewhere in the back of my mind, this started as a mission to help bring business back to ground zero of the summer’s wildfires. They hang in the air like a tragedy nobody talks about. Even so, I heard a waitress give directions to a table of rubbernecking tourists determined to see some of the fire damage. (My advice to them? Go to hell. Plenty of fire damage there. And there goes my tip.) You start sensing that damage on the highway into Bastrop in the form of billboards advertising legal help for fire claims. It might be a longshot to drive 30 miles from central Austin to eat here, but Maxine’s doesn’t need my help filling seats or quart-size Mason jars of iced tea.
The burger: With red brick interior walls and a collection of hubcaps, tools, autographed pictures and a few antique bicycles hanging in random patches, Maxine’s argues for going with a straight old-fashioned burger. But cream cheese with chopped jalapeños on a fresh-baked bun ($6.99 with chips) sounded like something warm and cool at the same time for a day when the weather couldn’t make up its mind. That cream cheese turned out to be the highlight, and if this had been a makeshift pimiento cheese sandwich with a big tomato slice and curly green lettuce with fresh onions on a flaky toasted bun, I’d have been happier. But a burger means beef, and it was cooked as hard and dry as July.
Fries or rings? A burger plate comes with chips and the option to upgrade to fries or rings for $1.99. Representing for Austin food nerds, I learned the fries came from a bag, so I switched to rings. I figure they’re from a bag, too, unless the fry-cook has the assembly-line skill to make every single ring exactly the same. Maxine’s menu of side dishes includes jalapeño cheese corn, a baked sweet potato with praline sauce and fried okra, but I was hooked when I heard the kitchen describe the collard greens ($2.49) to the waitress: nutmeg, cream, bacon. If I have to eat something green with a hamburger, that’s the way I want it.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
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