10 Can’t-Miss Houston Burgers

B.B. Lemon's cheeseburger : Credit: Jenn Duncan

There’s little in life more enjoyable than a well-made burger. Whether it’s memories associated with childhood summers and a fry-milkshake combo, or a meat-loving Texan reveling in a perfectly cooked half-pound of the finest ground chuck patty, there’s a reason that burgers continue to grace the menus at restaurants across the dining spectrum.

In a city as large and diverse as Houston, the best burgers represent a range of techniques, styles, and price points. From simple but perfectly cooked classic beef options, to wild game versions and creative internationally-inspired flavor combinations, these are the burgers that should be on every Houstonian’s bucket list.

La Lucha (Heights)

Credit: Andrew Thomas Lee

Ford Fry, the chef-owner of La Lucha, grew up like many Houstonians: with a fondness for burgers from local favorites Whataburger and Avalon Diner. That inspiration led to a modern favorite at La Lucha called the pharmacy burger, beloved for its simplicity and depth of flavor. The ingredients are spare: beef, cheese, pickles, onions, mustard, lettuce, and tomato, wrapped in a crispy yellow paper like a gift. In her burger column in the Houston Chronicle, food critic Alison Cook gave it an “A plus plus,” writing, “This one broke the darn scale.” 

Dining at the restaurant: Dining is available in the lounge-like dining room, which features reclaimed wooden floors, exposed brick walls, and vintage furniture and artwork. The outside patio is a popular place to enjoy brunch or the sunset, at picnic tables placed below the restaurant’s stately oak tree.

Takeout: Takeout and delivery are not available at this time.

Maison Pucha Bistro (Heights)

This family-owned Heights bistro features French classics with distinct elements drawn from chef Manuel Pucha’s Ecuadorian heritage. The spicy lamb burger is just one example of the creative ways the two cuisines come together in a winning combination. Pucha grew up eating lamb in Ecuador but had his first lamb burger in New York City in the early ’90s. His version at the bistro includes a spiced lamb patty, mint Greek yogurt aioli, pickled red onion, French feta, harissa sauce, and a side of Maison frites.

Dining at the restaurant: Dine indoors in the sophisticated dining room, where light wood and soothing blue tones take in plenty of light from numerous tall windows, or outdoors on the spacious patio.

Takeout: Takeout is available by calling the restaurant directly.

Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette (Memorial)

Liberty Kitchen might be known for its seafood dishes, but the burger options are a celebration-worthy reason to book a table. The truffle cheeseburger features Wagyu beef topped with truffle cheese, foie gras aioli, oyster mushrooms, and arugula. Add a black sesame seed-covered bun from Slow Dough to the equation, and it’s almost too pretty to eat — almost.

Dining at the restaurant: The restaurant is part of the “Treehouse” office complex, and the dining room immediately stuns with a high-ceilinged dining room complete with hanging chandeliers and Liberty’s signature green chairs. The spacious, partially covered patio is available for outdoor dining.

Takeout: Takeout is available by calling the restaurant directly.

B.B. Lemon (Heights)

Credit: Jenn Duncan

It’s no surprise to fans of restaurateur Benjamin Berg that this throwback version of a New York City diner makes killer burgers. As the owner and proprietor of a butcher shop and steakhouse, lots of attention is paid to B.B. Lemon’s burger patties, made with Texas Wagyu beef sourced from local farmers. Though all of the burgers are top-notch, the diner’s patty melt is the stuff that beef dreams are made of, with melted Swiss cheese and caramelized onions nestled between toasted deli bread.

Dining at the restaurant: Enter the dining room and be whisked away to a modern version of ’70s-style New York City classic burger pub J.G. Melon, complete with a pressed tin ceiling, green-and-white checkered tables, and condiment bottles at each table.

Takeout: Curbside pickup and delivery are available online and by calling the restaurant directly.

Grace’s (Upper Kirby)

Where’s the beef? It’s not missed at Grace’s, where fans of hard-to-find seafood patties can enjoy a shrimp burger. The restaurant, named after local restaurateur Johnny Carabba’s grandmother, offers up Southern-style comfort food that’s simple but flavorful. Made with locally sourced Gulf shrimp, the juicy patty is topped with Thousand Island dressing and bread and butter pickles on a pretzel bun.

Dining at the restaurant: White tablecloths meet grandma chic in the spacious exposed brick dining room, complete with fireplaces and recessed shelves adorned with mixing bowls and sundry kitchen items. A large outdoor patio provides comfort and shade with umbrellas and couches.

Takeout: Takeout is available by calling the restaurant directly.

Irma’s Southwest (Downtown)

This family-owned Mexican and Southwestern restaurant is known for its emphasis on seafood and Texas-sourced wild game, including one species of antelope, the nilgai, from Broken Arrow Ranch. The nilgai’s fine-grained meat with a delicate game flavor plays the central role in one of the city’s most unique offerings: the B.W. burger, made with a half-pound of nilgai and topped with peppered bacon and Monterey Jack cheese. 

Dining at the restaurant: Dine-in at the sleek, floor-to-ceiling window-lined space, or outside on the patio. Both offer plenty of opportunities to watch passersby on Texas Avenue. Pro tip: With its location a stone’s throw away from Minute Maid Park, Irma’s Southwest is a game day favorite, so make sure to get a reservation on days the Astros are playing to ensure a table.

Takeout: Delivery and takeout are available by calling the restaurant directly.

Cowboys & Indians Tex-In Kitchen (Midtown/Montrose)

Credit: Cowboys and Indians Tex-In Kitchen

Creative takes on Indian and Texan food are central to this neighborhood restaurant, and that extends to the burgers. Case in point: the spicy Himalayan Heat burger, a juicy half-pound beef patty made with a blend of Indian spices and topped with mozzarella cheese, grilled onions, jalapeños, grilled tomato, and a proprietary sauce that packs a punch. Those looking for less fiery and non-beef burgers will appreciate the wealth of available options, all made with local ingredients on Slow Dough buns.

Dining at the restaurant: Take advantage of air conditioning and maybe a sports game on television at a high-top table inside, or get some fresh air at one of the picnic-style tables on the covered patio. Either way, don’t forget to order the masala fries.

Takeout: Takeout and delivery are available through the restaurant’s website, or by calling the restaurant directly.

Roost (Montrose)

A smashburger done right is deceptively hard to achieve, but Roost has perfected the key component: a patty with crispy edges, just the right amount of seasoning, and a juicy interior. Though the menu at this neighborhood restaurant changes frequently, the burger — made with 44 Farms beef, house pickles, thin onions, provolone, and mustard aioli — is a mainstay.

Dining at the restaurant: With fewer than 50 seats available inside the cozy dining room complete with antique shutters on the wall and exposed wood beam ceilings, expect an intimate atmosphere. Picnic tables are available for those that prefer outdoor dining on the patio space out front.

Takeout: Takeout and delivery are available by calling the restaurant directly.

FM Kitchen & Bar (Heights/Washington)

Credit: Kirsten Gilliam

Houstonians are always on the lookout for a truly tasty roadside-style burger—the kind you can enjoy in the car, bopping along to the radio with the windows down, without a care in the world. FM Kitchen & Bar’s signature FM Burger, available with one or two 4-ounce patties, is the kind of perfectly executed example that draws folks from all over town when they need to scratch that itch. Made with fresh ground beef — a combination of chuck, brisket, and steak — American cheese, red onion, lettuce, and a tangy proprietary “shhh sauce,” the burger is completed with a classic, lightly toasted Martin’s potato roll. Vegetarians and those eschewing red meat can sub a vegan Impossible Burger patty for the beef.

Dining at the restaurant: Enjoy the casual style of the dining room, created with old-school roadside restaurants in mind, or take a seat on the large dog- and family-friendly outdoor patio, complete with lawn games and umbrellas for shade.

Takeout: Takeout and delivery are both available.

Upper Kirby Bistro (Upper Kirby)

Though there are a few burgers on the menu at Upper Kirby Bistro — including a vegan  house-made bean burger — the smokehouse bistro burger is undeniably the go-to option for a hungry lunch crowd. In addition to a thick beef patty, the accoutrements provide a satisfying texture (crunchy onion ring and Applewood maple bacon — check!), along with flavor, thanks to white cheddar cheese, bread and butter pickles, tomato, and house-made aioli. 

Dining at the restaurant: Enjoy the lively energy of Upper Kirby Bistro’s dining room from a comfortable banquette seat, or dine outdoors in the green-filled patio space.

Takeout: Pick-up and delivery are available on the restaurant’s website.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.