Archive | January 22nd, 2011

Total Joy at TJ’s Hamburgers

Total Joy at TJ’s Hamburgers

In our years of restaurant reviewing, we have invested embarrassing amounts of time tracking down great burger stands.

How, we asked ourselves yesterday, had we missed TJ’s?

Now it has been found, at least by us. And we thank the good friend that brought it to our attention.

TJ’s is far down south on New Laredo Highway, almost to Southcross Boulevard.  It’s housed in a shack with covered parking outside, but we don’t think they serve you in your parked car. A shack, by the way, shouldn’t scare you when it comes to burgers.  Nor should it matter that the entryway to TJ’s is a tad shabby.

What does count is that when your paper-wrapped burger gets to your table,  it is almost too hot to handle. The beef tastes beefy and comes to the edge of the bun, and the fillings are fresh and just a bit drippy. Ketchup comes on the side.

TJ's Hamburgers good, drippy burger and fries.

The milkshakes are thick and rich and made with real ice cream; the french fries are thin, crisp and ours tasted as though they were just out of a freshly cleaned and re-stocked fryer.

A companion who’d ordered onion rings shared one with me and it burned the tip of my tongue, but when I managed to hold myself back a few more seconds it had a wonderfully crunchy exterior and a tender slice of real onion inside. A fried chicken sandwich was fine, with all the trimmings. There’s also a fish sandwich offered.

A hot dog, with a superior relish of freshly chopped onion and dill pickle, needed to be hotter. Those metal rung-type rollers for cooking hot dogs make them look tempting, but I’ve found that they’re not so great for getting hot dogs truly hot. Maybe restaurants — even burger joints — should just use them for show, kind of like those trays laden with plastic desserts some sit-down restaurants send to your table to help you order. (OK, maybe not.)

Frito pie and a milkshake duo? Why not, at TJ's?

Burgers come in three sizes: single, double and triple. The triple is $5.87, with prices going down from there. So, TJ’s also offers good value.

How much did we like the milkshakes? My colleague ordered one vanilla shake to go with his hot dog and Frito pie (yessir, fine gourmet dining at its best). That prompted another of our companions to head up to the line and order a chocolate shake, which she also shared around the table. Before the meal was over, the vanilla shake man went back to get himself the strawberry shake. After its turn around the table we all agreed that as fine as the chocolate and vanilla had been, the strawberry, with bits of icy fruit in it, was the best.

Frito pie? Oh, yes. The chili was good, the Fritos stayed crisp, but we’d much prefer real melted cheese OR shredded longhorn or Colby for the topping rather than the processed, liquidy stuff they had on top.  Just saying …

It seems that a fair number of San Antonians have been enjoying TJs for a long time. We’re planning another trip … soon.

TJ’s Hamburgers
477 New Laredo Hwy.
Open daily for lunch and dinner

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Weissman Addresses CIA Graduation in New York

Weissman Addresses CIA Graduation in New York

Chef Andrew Weissman addresses the graduating class of the CIA at Hyde Park, N.Y.

Andrew Weissman (right) poses with CIA president Tim Ryan.

Chef Andrew Weissman of Il Sogno and the Sandbar at the Pearl Brewery addressed the graduating class of the Culinary Institute of America’s main campus on Friday.

Giving the speech had special significance for the San Antonio native, who was graduated from the school in Hyde Park, N.Y., before starting his culinary career, which includes the lauded but now-closed Le Rêve. “It is very difficult for me not to sound like a paid sponsor for this school,” he said, “but the truth is the CIA has helped provide me and my family with an amazing quality of life.”

He offered the following advice to the graduates: “For those of you wondering what now, I challenge you to write the greatest story of yourself. You may stumble along the way, but it is all part of the journey. Go ahead and make mistakes. It is also part of your growth as an individual. The key is to not repeat them. … Check to see if things are impossible only after you are done.”

The CIA also has campuses in San Antonio and Greystone, Calif. A fourth campus in Singapore is being added this month.

(Photos courtesy CIA/Keith Farris)

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