Retro Austin

6 legendary Austin joints for a classic burger

6 legendary Austin joints for a classic burger

Top Notch Hamburgers
Take a bite out of the most nostalgic burgers in Austin. Top Notch Hamburgers/Facebook

Nothing beats a hot, juicy burger to satisfy your hunger. We’re talking the classic version, none of that fusion or haute cuisine stuff. Sure, you can’t swing a french fry in Austin without hitting a place that serves hamburgers, but these joints have been cooking up the real deal since long before most hipsters were born.

Dan's Hamburgers
Still family owned and operated, Dan's opened in 1973, founded by Dan Junk and his then-wife, Frances. Dan developed his made-to-order hamburgers as the store manager for a local chain named King Burger in the 1960s. The number of locations varied through the years, with Dan and Fran eventually divorcing and splitting the restaurants between them; today there are four locations serving certified Angus beef burgers with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onions.

Dirty Martin's
Dirty Martin's also goes by Dirty’s and Martin’s Kum-bak, after the original owner, John Martin, who opened this joint in 1926 — that’s no typo — more than 90 years ago. Dirty’s originally offered car service, but today folks eat at tables inside or outside, or at the counter, where you can watch your burger cook. The Kum-bak Burger, large or small, made with never-frozen, certified Angus beef comes with mustard, onion, pickle, and tomato. If you want lettuce, ask for the Sissy Burger.

Hill-bert's Burgers
Started in 1973 by then-University of Texas student Hilbert Maldonado and his wife, Lucille, Hill-bert’s still serves its founders' own recipe for burgers and shakes. At one point, the joint had a location on Burnet Road, North Lamar Boulevard, and 35th Street; it now has only one: Cameron Road. The Hill-bert’s on North Lamar actually became one of the first P. Terry’s locations in Austin.

Hut's Hamburgers
This joint, housed in a white building with blue trim on West Sixth Street, opened in 1939. Hut’s Hamburgers uses fresh, Texas-raised beef from Johnny G’s Meat Market, as well as buffalo and longhorn beef for its burgers, served 20 different ways with everything from pineapple slices to diced green chiles and guacamole — and a classic version as well, of course. Allow extra time to check out all the memorabilia on the walls.

Sandy's Hamburgers
The old-fashioned neon sign at this little joint on Barton Springs Road reads “Sandy’s Frozen Custard & Root Beer,” but the sign on the building says Sandy’s Hamburgers. Rest assured the place serves a classic hamburger, and it has since 1946. Drive-thru and outdoor picnic tables, no indoor seating.

Top Notch Hamburgers
With its retro sign and throwback car service, Top Notch offers a real blast-from-Austin’s-past experience. Frances and Ray Stanish opened it in 1971, and the joint only changed ownership when Ray and then their son, James, died. No mention of Top Notch is complete without pointing out that it served as a setting for scenes from Dazed and Confused. The classic No. 1 hamburger comes with mayonnaise, tomato, lettuce, pickles, and onions.