A burger satisfies the primal hunger pangs I get more completely than most foods. I love the tactile nature of picking up the bun and feeling it give a little at the touch. I love the aroma of freshly cooked meat that greets me before I bite into a sizzling patty. I love the layering of pickles, onion, tomato and lettuce piled high, adding textures and flavors, and I love a smear of mustard and mayonnaise on both sides.
But there the generalities end. Each of the following burgers is unique in its own right, and yet all five make me feel glad to be alive.
- Bunsen Burgers, 5456 Walzem Road, 210-590-6066. What a burger! Start with the beef, ground in-house, then move on to the flaxseed bun, also made in-house, and crown it with a series of crazy good toppings. The Stehling Experiment, a take on the bean burger, is a personal favorite, but I also have a soft spot for the Bikini Atoll, with its teriyaki pineapple ring. The batter-dipped sweet potato fries are spectacular.
- Bracken Store Cafe, 18415 Bracken Drive, 210-651-6515. It’s worth the drive. Seriously. The menu isn’t greatly varied. There’s a plain burger, a cheese burger and a bean burger, that’s it. But it’s the flavor of the patty that makes this a real winner. Each big burger is made to order, so give it some time. You’ll be richly rewarded. Go at lunch or on Friday, the only evening it’s open.
- Big Bob’s Burgers, 2215 Harry Wurzbach, 210-832-8885. The building is nothing to look at, from the inside or the outside. But that doesn’t matter one bit. The secret here is the flame-broiling, which adds texture and flavor. So, grab a beer and enjoy a messy burger heaped high with your choice of toppings. An order of the crisp onions rings with a touch of caraway seed in the batter are great to share with a friend.
- The Lord’s Kitchen, 118 Seguin St., 210-354-3888. This is the place to visit if you want ground sirloin in a hand-formed patty, whether you only want one that’s a quarter pound or you are in the mood for a hefty three-pounder. And talk about juicy. The many choices includes the winning Ghetto Burger, with its winning mix of chili, cheddar cheese, mustard and pickles. A turkey burger is also available.
- Casbeers at the Church, 1150 S. Alamo St., 210-271-7791. The music in the church feeds the soul, while the burgers feed body and soul. The King William is topped with Swiss and ’shrooms. The Lavaca-Guaca has cheddar and guac. Both excellent, but the real winner is the Utopia Kinky Burger, far more successful than the namesake’s political career with its heavenly mixture of cheese, grilled onions and Jewish rye.