Meet the Tastemakers
Austin's 8 best burgers stack ingredients and accolades high
Frankly, you don't need us to tell you what your favorite burger is. A favorite burger comes from within, but there's always room to broaden your horizons — at least as far as burgers are concerned. You could say that all great burgers have the same ingredients, or you could lean into the gluttonous layering of as many new ideas as possible between two buns. But when you ask the pros, where will they say your expansive journey should start?
Our judges — some editorial staff and some Tastemaker winners from last year — compiled a list of the eight best burgers in Austin in 2023. These chefs, especially, can appreciate the magic of an impeccably made burger. If you think about it, burgers are a public service.
Look for your favorite sandwich among the nominees for Best Burger below, try the ones that might unseat it in your rankings, and then join us on May 11 at Fair Market for our annual Tastemaker Awards tasting event and awards ceremony. Sample, savor, and chow down on a variety of sliders during the event before voting for your favorite during the Burger Throwdown, presented by Goodstock by Nolan Ryan. Early Bird tickets are on sale now.
Bad Larry Burger Club
If Bad Larry Burger Club sounds like a blustery group of all-in enthusiasts, then the name is doing its job. This burger is not a cute stack of carefully sliced toppings. It’s a pile of smashed beef layered with gooey cheese and threats to spill out on your shirt, which if you shop with Bad Larry, is possibly derogatory toward a Texas politician or controversial figure around town. It’s also not a restaurant, according to the bad man himself, who slings burgers as a pop-up.
Better Half Coffee & Cocktails
Better Half straddles one of those fine lines between good date night spot, group gathering place, and casual coffee shop for a solo outing. Balancing so many expectations at once, it’s no wonder the place is also a great burger joint with not one, but three different options. And there really is something for everyone, between the classic ground beef cheeseburger, veggie burger (with Beyond Meat patty), and juicy chicken burger. All three are $6 during happy hour, and don’t forget to pair with those cauliflower tots.
Casino El Camino
This bar and grill, the gate to Dirty 6th, is a divey staple for festival crowds and locals who miss Austin’s receding weirder side. It advertises its “world famous hamburgers” on its iconic sign, and the burgers do deliver. Served on a grilled bun, these thick three-quarter-pound patties come pink in the middle for maximum juiciness. The atmosphere, with a pool table, campy gothic decor, and great tunes, makes it fun to stay even if a burger isn’t in your cards that day.
Crown & Anchor Pub
There are staples and then there’s the Crown & Anchor Pub. The campus-area establishment is going on four decades as a favorite haunt for UT Austin students, returning alumni, and Hyde Park residents. While the pub leans into the dive bar aesthetic with dart boards, pool tables, and a dog-friendly patio, the menu is anything but limited. With six different offerings, plus a build-your-own option, you might be better off betting on enjoying your meal than your dart board skills.
Best to clear your afternoon before diving into the Dai Due burger, which is sure to induce a nice REM cycle with its double patty, ground with Dai Due bacon. Multiple James Beard Award winner chef Jesse Griffiths remains a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement, sourcing ingredients from Texas and primarily in the Austin region — and the burger is no exception. A sesame cemita bun sandwiches Stryk cheddar cheese, house-made dill pickles and onions, and the whole heavenly ensemble comes with a side of french fries and unbelievable beet ketchup.
One of Austin’s best-known Jewish destinations (ask your favorite gentile to name one), this burger bar on Airport Boulevard gets creative without over-dressing a damn good burger. Although the classic combo is perfectly seasoned, there are more ideas. “The Yenta” and “The Goyim” pair patties with a latke and all the ingredients of a perfect pastrami sandwich, respectively. There’s always a line out the door, and rightfully so — can we get a l’chaim to that?
LeRoy And Lewis Barbecue
The fact that anyone would choose a burger at a barbecue joint is testament enough to LeRoy and Lewis. These cult-favorite sandwiches are so famous that the team has shared its official technique in great detail. They shape freshly ground beef into half-pound patties, season with salt and pepper, smoke at around 250 degrees, and then sear on the live fire. Texas Monthly calls this burger, finished with cheese and onions fried on the burger remnants, “hard to top.”
Half the fun of Pool Burger is, in fact, the pool — by which we mean the one and only Deep Eddy. Austinites love to debate the merits of Barton Springs vs. Deep Eddy, but Pool Burger’s proximity to the latter makes for a pretty strong case. There are few better respites from Austin heat than a post-swim recharge with one of their wagyu burgers from Peeler Farms. The classic Pool Burger is a staple for a reason, but don’t skip the Blue Hawaiian: That griddled pineapple, bacon, and crumbled blue cheese combo with thousand island dressing is something we think about year round.