First came 50 Burgers, 50 Days. Then Novemburger. 2011 wraps up with a burger a day for Decemburger.
Day 9: Shorty’s Burgers & Fries
A trailer at 201 W. Fifth St. www.shortysaustin.com.
Hours: 8 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 12.09.11
Shorty’s own website name-checks In-N-Out Burger, almost like their little four-nights-a-week trailer across from Kenichi might tide us over until we get one of our own. When we do, I’ll bet they’re actually open during the hours they post on their website. That’s my pet peeve about trailers: outdated websites, outdated hours, outdated menus. The website lists two different sets of hours, the Twitter page has another, and the cook had another variation. That's the one I printed above. Shorty’s gets a pass only because it came highly recommended by two guys who know food: Jason Cohen of Texas Monthly and Matthew Odam of the American-Statesman. If this isn’t worth an extra hour in the cold on a Thursday night, they both have some atoning to do.
The burger: In-N-Out’s secret sauce is one of its selling points, that and the fact that the menu is a spartan exercise in burgers and fries. How many patties and how much cheese are about the only variables. Shorty’s West Coast burger lays out two patties, double cheese, lettuce, tomato and yes, special sauce, on a plain white bun for $5. The meat starts as a fresh knob of ground beef smashed to order on the flat-top. It’s a palm-sized burger, not much bigger than a slider, half-wrapped in white paper for eating while you walk away from the rattle and hum of the trailer’s generator. Walking and eating can’t be harder than texting, right? Its smaller size gives this burger a good balance between meat and bread and cool vegetables. I guess Cohen and Odam are off the hook. The special sauce? Get ready: Thousand Island, but a spicier Thousand Island.
Fries or rings? Shorty’s is in the burger business, not the side-order business, so shoestring fries from a freezer bag hit with salt and a slick after-note of fryer oil are all you get ($2). Share them with some of the half-dozen guys who’ll hit you up for spare change at that time of night.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)