The Fast Foodie

Gourmet Burger Grill at the Legacy
18414 US Hwy
281 North
11am-10pm Mon-Thu, 11am-11pm Fri-Sat, 11am-9pm Sun
I grew up eating fast-food hamburgers at a McDonald’s on Austin High-way. Many years later, I flipped a 180 and switched to a fairly strict vegan diet. Needless to say that ended very shortly after I moved back to San Antonio. As a fast-food critic and a former vegan, I now choose to enjoy “the other side” selectively — I haven’t had a hamburger in at least 10 years. So imagine my satisfaction when I tried the Mini Burger Sampler plate at Gourmet Burger Grill. But let’s first rewind to 20 minutes earlier …

Gourmet Burger Grill is located at the northeast corner of Highway 281 and 1604 in a brand-new shopping center called the Legacy. The restaurant is the brainchild of Jorge Cosio, proprietor of the short-lived Manduca and Cibal restaurants. Having tasted eclectic hamburger restaurants in London, Las Vegas, and New York City, Cosio decided to open his own in San Antonio and partnered with Mike Davis, formerly executive chef at Piatti Ristorante in the Alamo Quarry Market, who also designed the menu.

As you’d guess, with a name like Gourmet Burger Grill, the intent is to bring sophistication to the casual hamburger, starting with modern décor: a stained concrete floor, high ceilings, “Ikea”-esque tables, and a vibrant red wall. At the same time, the place maintains a casualness appropriate for a quick lunch.

Let’s explore the menu to give you an idea of their ambition. The standard hamburger, an impressive Certified Angus Beef, goes for $5.95, and the most expensive, the American Kobe Beef Burger, costs $10.95.

My friend (a gall-bladder-removal outpatient and also a former vegan) ordered the sampler plate, which came with mini versions of the crab cake, lamb, kobe ($2 upgrade), chicken, and Angus beef burgers. I ordered the veggie burger to see how that was done, and freely stole off of his plate to get the full spectrum. Everything was quite good. The lamb was ground with fresh mint, like in Morocco. This may have been the best burger we tried, although I was partial to the crab cake, which was wonderfully soft but with a delicately crisp outer edge. The Kobe beef was impressive, and noticeably better than the Angus. The veggie burger was the weak link but the bun and toppings made it better than most.

Another important touch is the variety of gourmet cheeses, sauces, and toppings that can be ordered with the burgers, including boursin and camembert, applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onion jam, and bourbon-barbecue sauce, to name a few.

If you’re serious about hamburgers, you would be crazy not to give this place a shot.

— Mark Jones