Being that the month of July celebrates National Grilling Month, it is only appropriate to mention some of my personally preferred grills and burger joints in the Houston area. Each destination is perfect to visit during the celebratory month, or anytime you feel like indulging in America’s favorite food staple.
I managed to narrow down my count to five specific places for various mouth-watering burgers, although I am fully aware that Houston has many more worthy candidates. Here are my five burger picks, in no particular order:
1. LANKFORD GROCERY AND MARKET:
Originally established as a fruit stand in the 4th Ward in 1938 by Nona and Aubrey Lankford, the business was moved to its current location in 1939 on Dennis Street and turned into a grocery store. The family owned and operated business decided to start selling deli sandwiches in the early 1970s and a few years later introduced burgers to their menu. By the 1990s, Lankford Grocery was no longer known as a grocery store, but a thriving commerce made popular by their remarkable burgers—and they have the credibility to prove it.
Lankford Grocery burgers were named the Best Burger in Houston by CitySearch in 2009 and the restaurant was featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in the same year.
Their menu offers eight original burger compilations to leave any burger lover salivating. To get a feel for what Lankford Grocery is all about, they feature a Mission Statement on their website that reads, “We have nothing small, nothing healthy, and nothing fast. We never give you a check, but that does not mean it’s free. You pay at the register as you leave. If you do not have 30 minutes to spend, you should try us another day. We have great food, but its not fast food. Everything is made to order just like you like it!”
My one complaint with the eatery is that they only accept payment in cash or checks. In this day and age, most people only carry credit or debit cards, so this could be inconvenient for some—but it’s likely that most who dine at Lankford are willing to make a trip to the ATM machine in exchange for that perfect burger. Lankford Grocery and Market is open for breakfast and lunch. Their hours are Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can reach them by phone at (713) 522-9555.
2. BECKS PRIME:
Started by the trio Mike Knapp, John Storms and Win Campbell in 1985 off Kirby Drive, Becks Prime describes their food as “fresh, high quality, cooked-to-order fast food, grilled over mesquite wood coals.” If that description doesn’t fit the bill for a perfect meal during National Grilling Month, I don’t know what does.
Since the high-end fast food joint got its start 25 years ago, they have expanded their legacy to exist in 11 different locations throughout the Houston area. In addition to the original Kirby location, Becks Prime resides off of Highway 6, Dairy Ashford, Westheimer and Wilcrest, Augusta Drive, at Memorial Park, Downtown, at the Woodlands, Memorial City Mall, Meyerland Plaza and off of 1960 and Willowbrook.
The menu presents 11 diverse burgers to choose from, all for under $10. The TKO Burger and Chili Cheeseburger add flare to the flavor with chili, Bill’s Burger has jalapenos, bacon, cheddar and prime sauce, the California Burger includes Swiss cheese and guacamole and the Blue Cheeseburger tops off its ingredients with bleu cheese crumbles. If you aren’t feeling quite in the mood for beef, the Grilled Chicken Sandwich is a traditional but smart choice. Local news channel KPRC liked their burgers so much, that they named them as their choice for Best Burger in Houston in 2009.
If you are in the disposition to give, the fast food diner gives customers the option of purchasing Becks Bucks, gift cards to be used at any of the locations around town for a scrumptious meal. To contact Becks Prime, log onto the official website and select any of the 11 desired locations for phone number and address information. You can also click here to access catering information for any business or private party function that you wish to have Becks Prime present.
3. BUBBA’S TEXAS BURGER SHACK:
Located literally, under Interstate 59, Bubba’s Texas Burger Shack precedes its name with the appearance of the diminutive structure and overall surroundings. Anyone driving by could easily miss this burger joint if they weren’t looking—and they would most definitely be sorry if they did.
The quaint shack has a small parking lot adjacent to the restaurant, facing the entrance of an open patio, complete with multiple picnic tables. When you walk inside there are tons of Texas vintage posters, pictures and license plates decorating the walls and a handful of seating.
While there are other items besides burgers that you can choose from at Bubba’s Texas Burger Shack, it would be foolish not to get the main ingredient the establishment is known for. What makes Bubba’s stand out from other burger spots in Houston is what you can get your burgers made from—their Buffalo Meat Burgers are locally raised and grass fed and are even leaner in fat than turkey. The best part is they taste just the same as any other great burger that is twice as bad for you.
Houstonians are not the only people to take notice of the original burger shack. Chris Cognac, also known as “The Hungry Detective” on The Food Network featured the restaurant on his show. You can watch the clip from Cognac posted on Bubba’s Texas Burger Shack’s Myspace webpage.
CitySearch has given the eatery an immaculate rating of five stars and the infamous blogger, Texas Burger Guy, ranked the restaurant with an eight out of a ten rating. You can reach Bubba’s Texas Burger Shack by phone at (713) 661-1622 or visit their Myspace webpage online.
4. SAM’S DELI DINER:
My high school years are more than far behind me, but being a Stratford High School Alumni does bring back certain memories of burgers worth drudging up—particularly from Sam’s Deli Diner.
Back in the days of my Stratford Spartan experiences, Sam’s Deli Diner was just an obscure and tiny burger joint, within a strip center off Old Katy Road between Wilcrest and Kirkwood. It’s small space didn’t stop my peers and I from visiting any chance we got for an off-campus lunch or afterschool snack and it seemed as if we weren’t the only ones with their famous burgers on our minds. I don’t think I ate at Sam’s Deli Diner once without sharing my encounter with an overflow of customers.
These days I am no longer in high school, and Sam’s Deli Diner is no longer located off Old Katy Road. While I like to think I have upgraded myself in my knowledge and wisdom over the years, Sam’s Deli Diner has upgraded to a slightly larger and improved plot, just across the freeway from its original location. Apparently, people and burger establishments can both mature positively with age.
Rated by CitySearch with a four and a half out of a five star rating, Sam’s Deli Diner is known for their old-fashioned style burgers and generous portions at cheap prices. Established burger critic and restaurant blogger Texas Burger Guy rated the eatery on his website with a seven out of ten rating, solidifying that Sam’s Deli Diner produces a legitimate burger for hungry Houstonians.
I may not be 17 anymore, but I am certain I will continue to love Sam’s Deli Diner and their deliciously immaculate burgers just as I did during my high school career for years to come.
5. SOUTHWELL’S HAMBURGER GRILL:
Just as Stratford High School kids had Sam’s Deli Diner to help feed their burger cravings and serve as one of many social hangouts, Southwell’s served as the Memorial High School students’ equivalent.
There are four different locations for Southwell’s, but the Gaylord Drive location practically begged for pubescent attention, conveniently across the street from the Mustangs’ stomping grounds. Other locations for the diner include spots at San Felipe, at the Medical Center in West Holcombe and the newest destination at Taylor Street.
Family-owned since the 1940s, Southwell’s is celebrated for their friendly service and fabulous comfort foods in American cuisine—namely the burgers. The menu offers 17 different burger options all for under or around five dollars. Fries, onion rings and other side items are sold separately.
The Avocado or Chili Burgers serve as customer favorites with original ingredients that stand out from other traditional burgers featured elsewhere. If you aren’t feeling a craving for beef, their Chicken Sandwich is a great substitute and favored by many. For people with a sweet tooth, the diner’s famous milkshakes are sure to hit the spot.
Visit any one of these five different burger joints in honor of National Grilling Month, or to just to get your beloved burger fix.