Decemburger: Roadhouse

 
First came 50 Burgers, 50 Days. Then Novemburger. 2011 wraps up with a burger a day for Decemburger.
 
Day 18: Roadhouse
2804 Texas 21 E., Bastrop. 512-321-1803, www.roadhousebastrop.com.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 12.18.11
 
Right now, you can’t talk about Bastrop without bringing up the wildfires of 2011. Above my table at Roadhouse, in crayon, a drawing says simply, “I am glad y’all didn’t burn down.” The entrance to Bastrop State Park lies across the street, and the trucks rolling in and out give some idea of how much work goes into just chasing after normal again.
 
Roadhouse is a local celebrity in part because it showed up on Texas Monthly’s list of the state’s 50 Best Burgers in 2009. With sun-scrubbed wood and weather-bleached signs, Roadhouse was built to look lived-in, and the massive crushed granite parking lot suggests it gets lived in quite a bit around here.
 
The burger: Here’s an option I can get behind: a chili cheeseburger with the chili on the side ($9.99 with fries). Even better, it’s not a traditional bowl of red but a stew of pulled pork and green chiles. It’s spicy enough to take away some of the sweet overload of a Sheila Partin’s sourdough bun but not so hot that it creates a stinging overload of its own. The chili itself is too brothy to pour over the burger. It’s better just to trade bites back and forth. Except for the fast-food pickles, the vegetables are top-shelf leaf lettuce, tomato and red onion, and cheddar cheese that lies thick like an elastic shroud. They like their ground beef cooked well in Bastrop, but this patty at least has the courtesy to pull along some flame-grilled flavor with it.
 
Fries or rings? The chili-cheeseburger option popped up just as I was hunting for a side dish to supplement the food-service fries. With no onion rings or mac and cheese in sight, my eyes landed on a bowl of green chili, the same kind that comes with the burger. Two birds and all that.
 
Banana pudding bonus: At just $2.50 a bowl with fresh bananas and real vanilla pudding, I couldn’t leave without banana pudding and a cup from the pot of coffee they started just for me. It’s a dense bowl with a fine, creamy grain and a balance that leans more toward vanilla than banana, with crisp vanilla wafers at the edge for that decorative cafe touch.
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
 
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