Friday, June 14, 2013

Shuttle Burgers

Not dead yet! Here comes a slab of greasy meat from one of Houston's best hole-in-the-wall burger dives. Shuttle Burgers. It's about 2 miles from Hobby Airport. It's one of those dives where the signage doesn't even match. Pay attention as you walk in and you can see the place identified as Shuttleburger, Shuttle Burgers, Shuttle Burger and Shuttleburgers before you even get to the register. I'm certain that there's a published scientific theory stating that the amount of grease on a restaurant's burger increases exponentially for each time they can't spell their own name.

I walk in and there's a few more signs that you're in for something special. One, the TV in this joint has foil wrapped around the antennas and a note that says "Only one channel, do not touch TV." It's KHOU, in case you are wondering. Two? Look at that ketchup bottle. That's how its done. Decor? Everything in the place is dated. Even the pictures on the walls have been bleached by the sun. The joint is clean though, and that's about all that matters for a lunch spot like this.

Their signature burger is a Shuttle Burger, which is your basic sandwich with a slice or two of canned pineapple on it. The rest of the menu is your standard fare of choosing the number of patties you want, cheese, you get the big four vegetables and then you can choose to add mushrooms, jalapenos or bacon for a little extra dough. Cheap too. You can get burgers, fries and a fountain drink for under $7. That said, soda refills cost fifty cents.

That's what comes out of the kitchen. A little, plastic basket that has already had the paper eaten by oil from the fries as well as a burger stacked to the ceiling with your toppings of choice. This particular sandwich was a bacon and mushroom cheeseburger. 

It's a fantastic burger. It's greasy. Real grease too. Not that fake "melted mayonnaise" grease. The patty was obviously hand-made as it crumbles apart in different places. It's cooked to a medium-well but that didn't keep it from maintaining how juicy it was. The bun is fresh and lightly toasted on the griddle. The bacon is thick. Mushrooms are the greatest food on earth. What's missing? Nothing.
The fries were great too. They aren't kept under a heat lamp at all. They come right to your table still fresh out of the fryer. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. In fact, sit back, relax and listen as I regale you with a tale about how hot and fresh these french fries are. 

This all took place a few years ago. I was grubbing down a heart-stopping lunch when a man came running into the joint with a gun. He demanded all the money from the cash register and "one of them tasty-ass burgers to-go" or else he was going to tear the place apart. There was a cute girl in there who tried to talk some sense into him but he wouldn't hear it. He pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger. Fortunately for her, I am a gentleman and I dived into the path of the bullet and took it in the shoulder. What happened next? I was able to karate chop the perpetrator, get the girl, finish my lunch and I was even able to cauterize the wound with one of them hot ass french fries so I could skip the hospital and take the lady home for some of that good lovin'. DAMN THEY'RE HOT. Be patient or prepare to suffer the consequences. 

There are a few better burger joints in Houston than Shuttle Burgers but it doesn't keep this place from truly being one of the best. Sure, no "foodie" is ever going to get super excited about a menu that doesn't feature a single ingredient you can't find at Burger King, but if you're down by Hobby Airport, this place is a great way to fill up and get back to the rest of your day. I go out of my way to eat here any time I am in the area.