Decemburger: Scholz Garten

First came 50 Burgers, 50 Days. Then Novemburger. 2011 wraps up with a burger a day for Decemburger.
Day 11: Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto Blvd. 474-1958,
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 12.11.11
A 20-ounce imperial pint of Spaten Optimator beer ($5.50) reminds me of the celebrations Scholz Garten has woven into my history during its 145 years downtown. A bachelor party during which I read from a Paul Reiser book. That marriage didn’t last. A colleague’s son playing in a Paul Green School of Rock concert in the biergarten, pulling off a respectable version of “Play that Funky Music White Boy,” which he most certainly was. A handful of Longhorn games where even as a UT graduate I felt like an outrider adrift on a raging ocean of burnt orange. Even a wedding at the Saengerrunde Hall next door catered by local Cajun food legend Steve Chaney. That marriage lasted.
My history is unremarkable, but the fact that Scholz Garten has stayed alive through boom and bust — lately by the hands of Green Mesquite’s Tom Davis and team — is worth making it a part of yours.
The burger: Except for a sugary kolache bun as thick as a biergarten frau’s forearms, Scholz’s grills a straightforward burger with leaf lettuce, tomato and red onion ($8.20 for a half-pounder, plus 99 cents for cheese). You might admire its Teutonic efficiency, but for $9, it’s only a workmanlike American cheeseburger with grill-scored beef stepped on by bread as sweet as streusel. For the same price on the same menu, you could make more place-appropriate memories with a full dinner of German schnitzel.
Fries or rings? Yep, they’re both here. But a German beerhall brings so much more to the table, like peppery German potato salad, pickled red cabbage and sauerkraut with rye seeds at $2.95 for two or $1.99 a throw. They’re like Goldilocks and the Three Sides: too sweet (cabbage), too sour (kraut), just right (potato salad). But put them all together, and they work as a hot European trio of tastes ready to branch out beyond fried starch.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
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