Novemburger: 24 Diner

 
Because 50 Burgers, 50 Days wasn’t enough, I’ll write about a new burger every day this month. And next. We’ll call that Decemburger.
 
Day 24: 24 Diner
600 S. Lamar Blvd. 472-5400, www.24diner.com.
Hours: Open 24 hours daily, except 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. Wednesdays.
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.24.11
 
When home is a dorm room or a studio apartment, Thanksgiving feels better anywhere but home. Luby’s is open, as always, along with Threadgill’s and Hoover’s and 24 Diner and others (the American-Statesman has a nice list of restaurants open for Thanksgiving here).
 
24 Diner is where to get chicken and waffles instead of a turkey dinner or a burger and a peanut butter-chocolate shake instead of a turkey sandwich later. 24 Diner chef Drew Curren is back home for Thanksgiving from his brief run on “Top Chef Texas,” but we’re still proud to say we knew him when.
 
The burger: Roasted poblano and fresh avocado work together so well because the poblano lends its grassy heat to the creamy and cool but otherwise placid avocado. 24 Diner puts them together with bacon on a sturdy, egg-brushed challah bun for $13.95. The star is a thick patty of beef with a generous fat-to-lean ratio that picks up a hard sear even from the flat-top. A smoked aioli pulls it all together, and I’m left with only one sore point: $14 is a lot to pay for a burger and a side at a diner, even a chef-driven restaurant masquerading as a diner, even on Thanksgiving. Drown your chagrin with a half-pint of La Merle Saison beer or a buttery shake with equal parts chocolate and peanut butter ($5.95).
 
Fries or rings? The burger plate includes one of five sides, from mashed potatoes to bacon-braised green beans and, yes, hand-cut fries. They’re capped and rimmed with brindled skins, salted liberally and fried the color of a roasted turkey. They’re crispy at the browned edges and where the gnarled bits and pieces have settled at the bottom of a generous bowl.
 
The list of sides doesn’t include rings, so I gave in to the diner aesthetic and ordered an extra side of mac and cheese ($3.95). There’s nothing about Thanksgiving that can’t be fixed with macaroni and cheese, especially the kind with the nutty grain of something like gruyere and bread crumbs broiled into the crown and green onions for just a hint of the vegetables you should be eating.
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)