Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Goodson's Cafe

We were fast approaching deadline this week and had to get to a burger joint fast. So we jump on 249, a freeway that has yet to get any love on the site, and we went out in search of the American classic. We ended up stopping at Goodson's Cafe, which is a restaurant I have been to several times in my day because they are known for having one of the best chicken fried steaks money can buy. We decide to go inside and test the burger.

When we get in, you instantly realize that you are in a southern restuarant. The place is lined with anything and everything cowboy related that you can imagine. We are seated in a booth and handed menus that boast about two things. They claim to serve the world's best chicken fried steak and then they also plug the world's best double bacon cheeseburger. Nick orders one and I opt for the mushroom/grilled onion burger while our lady friends order up their world famous chicken fried steaks.

The burgers made their way to the table and as soon as they were put in front of us we knew we were in for something special. The grease was already bleeding out all over the plate. What was inside the bleeding corpse? The "world famous" burger was 2 patties totaling one pound of ground beef, a griddle toasted bun, lettuce, pickle, and sauteed onions with mayonnaise. The mushroom burger I ordered was the same thing except minus one of the half pound patties and with mushrooms, of course. I also opted for mustard because mayonnaise is terrible. It was time to dig in!

Upon first bite we knew we had stumbled upon something special. We hadn't even really planned on going to this restaurant any time in the near future, but almost as if by providence we both wound up with a mouthful of one of the most heavenly cheeseburgers we had ever tasted. Before even swallowing that first bite we were talking, with our mouths full, about how this burger had just bested every other burger that we've tasted thus far. The grease was everywhere. Napkins couldn't fly fast enough. The grilled onions were caramelized and seasoned to give off a little bit of a sweet flavor while the patty contrasted with a somewhat peppery, very intense, and very juicy beef flavor that just about blew the brains out of the backs of our skulls. All this time, the buckets of grease combined the flavors throughout the toppings, spread and bun resulting in a taste that will roll your eyes into the back of your head. Best burger we have had so far.

We almost need to award a prize over the fact that Goodson's Cafe is the first burger joint out of all of the places we have been to that actually cooked a burger medium when ordered. Everywhere else we have been has just cranked out medium-well as if born to do it, no matter what you ordered. Some of these places you could tell them to just run some raw meat on a plate through a warm room and you'd still get medium well. Not Goodson's. You get what you want.

How were the side dishes? The french fries, while looking very plain in the photo, were fried to a nice crispy finish. They weren't as gamechanging as their burger was, but they were delicious, which is refreshing because minus the Backyard Grill, we've found that the better the burger the worse the fries.

So, what are you waiting for? If you are craving a cheeseburger, you need to head out 249 towards Tomball and sink your teeth into one of Houston's finest. Check the burger map for the location and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

P.O.'s Burgers

P.O.s Burgers is the next stop on the quest for the ultimate cheeseburger. It's a middle-of-nowhere burger stop that's in Cypress, TX which is a little almost-suburb of Houston. The restaurant itself is an offshoot of a country bar and dance hall that's attached to the back of the building. The sign promises the world's best burgers. So we went in to see if they can stand up to their claims.
When you walk in, you walk into what was obviously a bar at some point. A bar stretches around the L-shaped dining area and behind it there is a griddle and some fryers where the food is prepared. There were a lot of old, dusty beer signs and memorabilia on the walls of the dining area. which was made up of wooden picnic tables. In fact, when you really take a look around, you realize that the entire place is either dead trees or scrap metal

Taking a look at the menu, they offer the usual selection of hamburgers, cheeseburgers and bacon cheeseburgers, but they also have buffalo, ostrich and turkey burgers. Their specialty is the P.O. burger which is a mushroom, bacon and swiss burger with mayo and lettuce only. All of them are offered up in 1/4 lb and 1/2 lb sizes. You can also get specialty buns that weren't unloaded off of a truck that are made out of fresh baked white, wheat or jalepeno cheese breads.

Deciding that the place needed to be judged based on their namesake burger, I ordered the P.O. burger with fries on the jalepeno cheese bun. They asked me what kind of fries I wanted, and I had to ask what they had. This was a mistake because the list weighs in at about six hundred different varieties. They have french fries, waffle fries, cheese fries, cajun fries, curly fries, steak fries, onion fries (which are really just onion rings) and tater tots. If you have a specific way you like your deep fried potatoes, P.O.'s has it.

While waiting for the food to come out we noticed two things that made us really anticipate the perfect, hole in the wall, middle of nowhere, mom and pop cheeseburger. The ketchup bottle and the roof. The ketchup was the most generic bottle of tomato paste we'd ever seen and then the roof? Completely made of tin. It definitely brought that small town feeling to a place not very far from the big city.

Before the burgers made their way out I also noted that I might have found the worst soda fountain in the city. I'm used to a soda fountain dumping too much carbonated water in the drink, but too much syrup? This was new, and it wasn't much of a treat. The Diet Coke was overpowering and then when I tried the Coca-Cola Classic I was greeted with the same super sweet flavor I was trying to escape. I stuck with it though, as I didn't want to venture a guess as to how old the iced tea was.

Our number was called and the burgers were on their way out. They come in good-ol' red baskets, wrapped in butcher paper that the grease has eaten almost completely through. It's definitely the juiciest burger we've seen short of the Gut Bomb from Otto's Barbecue. First bite? FANTASTIC!! The place may not have great amenities, they might have terrible soda, they might have ketchup manufactured in China that contains lead and asbestos, but the burger was something else.

The first taste I got was sweet. The jalepeno cheese bread had a little bit of sugar in it to make it a sweet kind of bread and it melted in my mouth with the assistance of the grease from the patty. That taste gave way to the flavor of bacon, mushrooms, cheese and mayonnaise, which is a condiment I usually despise, but in this case the combination of bread, grease and vegetables came together and produced one of the richest flavors I have ever gotten out of a burger. Then the patty. It hits just when you don't think your tastebuds can take much more, suddenly blending fresh cow in with all the flavors that you've already experienced.

We all quickly agree that this is one of the best burgers we've had so far despite the rest of the places shortcomings. I was convinced it was one of the best we've had and struggled to rank it while Nick quickly declared it the new silver medalist in our search. I couldn't disagree. Once again we are still convinced that Backyard Grill has them beat, but P.O.'s put the stomp on all the other competition we have found so far, including the legendary Lankford Grocery and our old second favorite, Otto's BBQ.

Check the map and give P.O.'s a try for yourself. It's a fantastic burger that will probably become one of your staples, especially if you live out on the northwest side.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lankford Grocery

This week's review covers what has been by far and away the most recommended burger in the city. Since we started the website we have had a ton of recommendations for places to go. Usually someone just recommends one of their favorite places and a few places they've heard of, and that's how we have assembled the list of places we plan on going. Lankford had about ten different people telling us we needed to go there when the next most recommendations came sliding in at a not nearly as impressive two. Expectations were incredibly high.

We showed up and found the place to be the absolute definition of a dive. Just walking up you get a patio shaded by very old trees, which seem to have moved the foundation around because the entire restaurant seems to have a tilt to it. Then you make it inside and notice and some of the roof beams are seperating. Red, white and blue tablecloths and nothing inside seemed newer than 1985 except for a picture of Guy Fieri's big fat bleached blonde head. Apparently he likes the burgers. The decor was described perfectly as "America".

What do we order? Chicken strips? HA! 3 bigass cheeseburgers are en route to our table. Before they come out though, in a little disappointing fashion, the sodas come out. In cans. No free refills. It's 2009 and this is America, my fat ass requires no less than three full 32 oz glasses of Diet Coke fresh out of a soda fountain. To compensate, I upgraded my beverage to a Shiner Smokehaus. Delicious!

The burgers come out wrapped up in 3 pieces of parchment paper in a classic all american plastic burger basket. They are huge. Definitely a double fister. I take the easy way out and cut the beast in half. I didn't order any fries, but at the table there is an order of fries and an order of onion rings within reach. Time to bite into what I am convinced is going to be the best burger I've ever devoured.

The burger is great. The bun was lightly toasted, and strangely only half covered in sesame seeds on every single burger that came out. I had to go looking for the slice of cheese, but only because the burger was so big that a slice of cheese doesn't cover all of the real estate. The vegetables were thick and generously applied.

The patty is obviously formed by hand and it crumbles apart in your mouth without really even needing to bite into it. As soon as your teeth are in the bread, you have tiny little pieces of meat rolling off onto your tongue, almost as if they want to chew themselves. This behavior is something I approve of wholeheartedly. The burger does have a little bit of drip action, but the juice doesn't really run like what I would expect out of something I would label a greaseburger, which isn't a criticism at all, just take it and apply that fact to your personal taste. They don't seem to be very drippy because they are obviously cooked over an open flame, at least, that's what the scorch marks lead me to believe since I didn't really taste any smokey flavor, except in my beer.

Was anything truly bad at Lankford? Yep. Hands down, Lankford Grocery serves up the worst french fries I've ever tasted. Imagine getting a bag of frozen french fries from Wendy's, undercooking them and then putting absolutely no seasoning on them whatsoever. Gross? Yes. Plain, soggy fries are unacceptable, but nevertheless, that's Lankford's super secret french fry recipe. On the other hand, the onion rings were great. Whenever I find myself back here, that's definitely the side I am going with.

The question though, is this burger the best burger I've ever had? No. It's very, very good but as for where we stand on our burger reviews I would rather go to Backyard Grill, and as an added bonus, they are open at dinner time whereas Lankford shuts down right at 3pm and takes the weekend off.

See you next week folks!!