Decemburger: Poodie's Hilltop Roadhouse

 
First came 50 Burgers, 50 Days. Then Novemburger. 2011 wraps up with a burger a day for Decemburger.
 
Day 3: Poodie’s Hilltop Roadhouse
22308 W. Texas 71, Spicewood. 264-0318, www.poodies.net.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Saturday. Noon to 2 a.m. Sunday.
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 12.03.11
 
At 3:30 on a weekday afternoon, I was worried about being the only soul in a nighttime roadhouse. But Poodie has regulars. I mean the kind of guys who are happy to sit in a lights-out bar and drink Lone Star in Shiner glasses, smoke cigarettes (indoors!) and play pool with the guy in the Harley bandanna while stragglers from the band warm up on fiddle and acoustic guitar. The show, and I kid you not, started at 4:15. And if you aren’t moved by a beautiful girl singing “Angel from Montgomery” while people decorate a Christmas tree, your soul has a few holes in it.
 
Poodie’s is named for Randall “Poodie” Locke, a big man with a gray braided ponytail who was Willie Nelson’s stage manager for 34 years. Locke passed away in 2009, and he’s memorialized all over his bar: as a cigar-store Indian up front, in photos above the bar and over by the pool table, as a cartoon on the menu, even in bathroom graffiti.
 
A bartender with a handlebar mustache of Hollywood caliber took my order as he handed out bottles of Bud Light, and one of the regulars gave me a reassuring “good choice” after everything I ordered, tipping his own glass of Lone Star my direction. “Brooks pays me to say that,” he said, though neither man could agree on the form of payment. Brooks didn’t bother asking me for money; I just paid him on the way out, the way it’s done around here.
 
The burger: The “Famous Poodie” ($7.25) is a big flat-top patty smothered with grilled strips of green chiles and pepperjack cheese on a rigidly toasted sesame-seed bun. It’s wrapped with draftsman’s precision in white paper, like a barroom present for those of us who get hungry at inconvenient times. Nothing about this feels inconvenient, and even in the full light of day, Poodie’s radiates the convivial joy of midnight in a room where everybody might not know your name, but your face rings a bell.
 
Fries or rings? They both have the institutional qualities of the pre-bagged, but you can get them cheap: fries for $1.75, rings for $2.25.
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
 
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