Between The Buns: 26 Can't-Miss San Antonio Burgers

Boiler House Texas Wine & Garden - DAN PAYTON
Dan Payton
Boiler House Texas Wine & Garden

At the risk of heartburn, indigestion and almost birthing several burger babies, we've compiled a list of patties we're digging and which we think you shouldn't miss. Be it classic, greasy iterations, health-conscious alt-burgers, fast and furious craving-busters or fancysauce variations with more rich aioli and cheese sauces than we could possibly muster, we tasted them all. And so we share with you our love of the top burgers with odes and haikus to fresh-baked buns and everything that goes between them.

Here are our #burgergoals. — Jessica Elizarraras

Fancy Sauce

Alchemy Kombucha and Culture
1123 N. Flores St., (210) 320-1168,

Much like the people behind Alchemy — which combines first-time restaurateurs and kombucha-makers, upscale cocktailians and untamed chefs — the Traphouse burger brings together several key ingredients that deliver a harmonious chomp. Featured on both late night and lunch menus, the Traphouse comes together with a hefty half-pound brisket-chuck patty, a sinful and top secret cheese sauce, a rough chop of iceberg lettuce, red onions and tomato, sandwiched between toasty and pressed buns. Prepare to destroy your cloth napkins and banish any semblance of neat eating: the Traphouse is serious — and delicious — work. — Jessica Elizarraras

Boiler House Texas Wine & Garden
312 Pearl Pkwy., Bldg. 3, (210) 354-4644,

Chef Jeff White knows burgers and though he might not have a degree in architecture (that I know of), the big cheese at Boiler House is prone to building structurally sound, but insane, burger creations. Take for instance my latest fave, the Jackie Treehorn, a marvel of a burger that asks, "why not?" Made with a thick short rib-blend patty, this sando combines cured and whipped foie gras with peanut butter and green tomato habanero jam — don't forget the fried egg — for a truly impressive bite. It's messy, it's playful, it's sexy and it's definitely shareable (but we won't judge if you don't). At Boiler House, White definitely abides. — Jessica Elizarraras

The Cookhouse
720 E. Mistletoe Ave., (210) 320-8211,

Technically, this sando qualifies as a po'boy, but let's not split hairs. Made with 30 percent ground mushrooms and 70 percent grass-fed local Wagyu beef, the dish serves as chef Pieter Sypesteyn's entry into a James Beard Foundation's social media-driven Better Burger Project competition. Rounded out with house-made pickles, arugula pesto and a gob of Gouda cheese on a Gambino's Bakery baguette, The Cookhouse's better burger is yours for the taking 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Vote for it by uploading a photo to Instagram, using the hashtag #BetterBurger and tagging @WhereYatSA to help send Sypesteyn to the James Beard House. – Jessica Elizarraras

Cullum's Attaboy Burgers
Multiple locations,

Chris Cullum has perfected the burger — yeah, we said it. Found at both Tucker's and Alamo Street Eat Bar, the bacon cheeseburger is made with fresh, golden brown baked buns, hand-ground beef, crispy pickles and a secret sauce so good that Mondo Burger would try to steal the recipe. It's the combination of great ingredients and Cullum's love for delicious food that makes this classic summer sandwich stand out from the rest. Vegetarians, fear not: Attaboy also features a veggie burger that is equally as mouthwatering (and won't have you feeling as guilty about breaking your summer diet the next day). Ask about the burger du jour if you feel like mixing it up. Pair with French fries or sweet potato fries and you're in burger heaven. — Ainsley Caffrey


306 Pearl Pkwy., Suite 101, (210) 314-3929,

It kills me inside to see a perfectly seasoned and cooked ribeye doused in "house made artesian free range A1 steak sauce." Just salt and pepper me, baby. Quality ingredients are the name of the game and Cured hit the nail on the head with its Blue Ribbon Burger: well constructed while letting its individuality shine through. I would call the burger simple — not to be confused with plain. The patty, made from a bacon/ground beef blend, has an agreeable thickness and is juicy without making my bun a sloppy disintegrating mess. The well-balanced flavors were not at all overpowered by the onion jam, which was a perfect mixture of sweet and peppery. The pièce de résistance was the "Blue Ribbon Cheese," an artful blend of American and smoked Gouda cheeses with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer for a little extra depth. —Amanda Bianchi

The Esquire Tavern
155 E. Commerce St., (210) 222-2521,

Since reopening its doors in 2012, Esquire Tavern has turned its burger into a downtown must-have. The latest menu gave us an homage to Mark "Wildcat" Garcia, punk rock chef at Alchemy (whose burger also made our list). Chef Brooke Smith combines organic beef, lettuce, grilled pineapple, habanero aioli, red pepper jelly, American cheese (the only cheese that should ever grace a burger) and nestles it into a Hawaiian bun. It's a sweet and spicy handful for those willing to get their hands a little dirty. – Jessica Elizarraras

Sara Luna Ellis

226 E. Olmos Dr., (210) 822-0100,

Brunch at Folc means one of two things: taking in a classic American breakfast with tasty biscuits and such, or facing down its lamb burger (the moniker might be a bit misleading as this seven-ounce patty mixes 80 percent house-ground lamb and 20 percent fatty brisket, to juicy results). Not one to be content with serving one of the most enticing blends in town, chef Luis Colon embellishes the burger with house-made everything — bread and butter pickles, ricotta, red onion marmalade and pillowy buns — and a gooey egg to seal the deal. The eatery's also serving this number at lunch if you're feeling brave. — Jessica Elizarraras

Southerleigh - DAN PAYTON
Dan Payton

Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery
136 E. Grayson St., Suite 120, (210) 455-5701,

The latest burg' on the block comes via Jeff Balfour and his team at Southerleigh, where all sorts of buns are made in house to winsome results. First showcased at this year's Burgers & Beers, the small, but mighty sandwich starts with beef out of 44 Farms (in Cameron, Texas), layered with bacon jam (because strips are pedantic, natch), cheese and their homemade pork fat bun. Gather up your closest bros and toss it back with Southerleigh's Darwinian IPA or call it a day and take in an 8-beer flight and a game of darts — you earned it. — Jessica Elizarraras

Dan Payton

Zinc Bistro & Wine Bar
207 N. Presa St., (210) 224-2900,

As someone who frequently writes about fancy food, I try to make peace with pricey patties crowned with slabs of foie gras. No luck there. The sweet spot lands somewhere north of mid-ground: not too tony, but not cranked out by the crapload, either. Hence the Zinc Burger — or the "crack burger," as its presumably addicted aficionados call it. As an added benefit, all the component decisions are made for you. The smoky cheddar adds umami, the parmesan tuile provides cheesy crunch, bibb lettuce is way better than iceberg, the house-made spicy tomato aioli is head and shoulders above Heinz and the bun has just enough cuerpo to hold up until the juicy end. As a bonus, the house fries are also exemplary — and take well to anointing in aioli. – Ron Bechtol

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