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Burger Up!: No Matter What You Crave, San Antonio's Got a Hamburger to Fit Your Appetite 

click to enlarge The Devil’s River Lamb Burger from Zinc - ERIK GUSTAFSON
  • Erik Gustafson
  • The Devil’s River Lamb Burger from Zinc
We’ve seen burgers evolve from a humble beef patty between sliced bread into an American classic served up by gourmet restaurants and fast-food chains alike.

Given the staple’s ongoing evolution, it’s safe to say there’s a burger for every mood and moment. Whether you’re trying to cure an intense hangover, looking for a cheap but delicious meal or ending the night on a tasty note, San Antonio has a burger that will more than do the trick.

And San Antonio Burger Week, which runs February 22 through March 3, may prove the perfect opportunity to venture outside your usual neighborhood haunts to seek one out. Dozens of participating restaurants are serving up $5 specialty burgers during the event, proceeds of which benefit the San Antonio Food Bank.

What follows is a list of burgers from local eateries — some participating in Burger Week, others not — that shows just how many options our city offers:

The Looker // Zinc
Let’s take a moment to appreciate this beauty. Made with locally-sourced lamb, the Devil’s River Lamb Burger combines sweet grilled onions with a spicy serrano fig jam, a slab of triple brie and a bit of sambal mayo to create an incredible dining experience. Add crispy sweet potato fries to the meal for another layer of texture and taste. ($14) 207 N. Presa St., (210) 224-2900.

The One That Needs Extra Napkins // Burgerteca
Things are going to get messy here, and that’s OK. Chef Johnny Hernandez designed the Chilaquiles Burger to be fully enjoyed. This delicious burger adds crema, queso fresco and black beans and tops it off with tortilla strips, a fried egg and salsa verde. ($9.75) 403 Blue Star St. #105, (210) 635-0016.

The Hangover Cure // Lucy Cooper’s Ice House
Science argues that only time can help us recover from late nights and too many cocktails, but science never met the Krispy Kreme Brunch Burger. This Insta-friendly bad boy — a beef patty stacked with bacon and cheese then sandwiched between two glazed donuts — may be enough to make us believe in the curative powers of salt, grease and sugar. Or does it simply distract us from the pain? There’s only one way to find out. ($14) 16080 San Pedro Ave., (210) 462-1894.
click to enlarge The Krispy Kreme Brunch Burger from Lucy Cooper's Ice House - ERIK GUSTAFSON
  • Erik Gustafson
  • The Krispy Kreme Brunch Burger from Lucy Cooper's Ice House
The West Side Contender // Papa’s Burgers
Robert Walker’s passion for great food and customer service have made Papa’s Burgers and its #3 Bacon Cheeseburger combo — a grilled beef burger made with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onion, pickles and American cheese — West Side institutions. Walker personally selects fresh meat and produce for the burgers daily, and he ensures that every customer is personally greeted. “Every little detail, to the burger and experience is exemplified,” Walker said. “People will return if the product is good, but they’ll remain loyal if the service is amazing. We love this neighborhood and the fact that we’ve been embraced by West Side community.” ($10.95) 709 Old Highway 90 West, (210) 336-7743.

The Snacker // Sangria on the Burg
When you’re hungry but not looking to devour a small herd of animals, sliders can come through in the clutch. And Sangria on the Burg’s buffalo chicken sliders — filled with crispy chicken, fresh lettuce and tomato, buffalo sauce and blue cheese — are made even more savory by ranch dressing with a jalapeño bite. Each order comes with your choice of a house salad or veggies, making for a satisfying meal without quite so much excess. ($12) 5115 Fredericksburg Road, (210) 265-3763.

The I Can’t Believe This Is From a Food Truck // Curb Food Truck
Chef Jose Benitez launched his food truck with a line of impressive and flavorful burgers in 2017, but his shrimp burger stands out from the pack. “I’m classically French-trained,” Benitez said. “I wanted to make “something different and fast-casual, but something that San Antonio [customers] would understand and not be afraid to try.” Nailed it. The crispy, freshly made shrimp patty is embellished with fresh green cabbage, cilantro, green onions and sesame seeds, all enveloped by a locally made brioche bun. $9.75 (210) 902-5066.

The Bar Burger // The Esquire Tavern
It can be hard to find a bar burger that rises above the status of serving as liner for your stomach. You can reach higher, though, so much higher with the Esquire’s bison burger, made with Thunder Heart’s organic bison, pickled red onion, house remoulade, white cheddar and a sesame bun. If you’re really looking to take your order over the top, add a fried egg plus a side of Chef Brooke Smith’s chili-salt fries and a nice Old Fashioned. ($16) 155 East Commerce St., (210) 222-2521.

The Herbivore // Earth Burger
Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply cutting back on red meat, you still have taste buds that deserve good things. So why not try a veggie burger from a place that makes its own patties instead of shaking them out of Boca box? Try the classic Earth Burger as a good starting point, but check out the really cool jackfruit BBQ sandwich on a return visit. (Earth burger: $6.50; Jackfruit BBQ $5.50) 818 NW Loop 410, (210) 254-1391.

The Bang for Your Buck // Feast
Chef Stefan Bowers has updated the classic 44 Farms Burger to offer 8 oz. of sustainable quality Texas beef, but it’s still made with the same fun, accessible spirit. The burger — stacked with American cheese, bacon, shredded lettuce, onion, pickles and a tangy and spicy “secret sauce” (is there ever any other kind on a burger?) — is served with a side of crispy cottage fries. This is the burger that every Big Mac aspires to be: an affordable dish with good taste. ($12) 1024 S. Alamo St., (210) 354-1024.

The Peacemaker // Chester’s
We’ve all been there. You’re starving, your group can’t agree on a place to eat and you’re headed for a food-related meltdown. But all you need is one phrase: “We’re going to Chester’s.” If you live in San Antonio, chances are you’ll find a location nearby. Beyond the local chain’s ubiquity, its no-nonsense green chili burger delivers a juicy patty embellished with a flavorful New Mexico bite. Chester’s also serves more than 200 varieties of beer and wine, so it’s a win for everyone. ($6.99) 1006 NE Loop 410, (210) 805-8600.

The Drive-Thru Champ // Burger Boy
There are countless fast-food options in San Antonio, but the Burger Boy is a local classic for a reason: it’s delicious. Order from the comfort of your car, or step inside for the Bates Special — a single beef patty burger served with crinkle fries and a drink for under $7. You can always add cheese, bacon and jalapenos if you’re feeling extra. Yes, add-ons cost more, but you’re worth it. ($6.70) 2323 N St. Mary’s, (210) 735-1955.

The I Secretly Miss Austin // Hopdoddy
Yes, Hopdoddy’s is an Austin-based enterprise, but its San Antonio outpost has earned a local loyal following. The house shroom burger showcases Texas flavors with grilled Angus beef, goat cheese and mushrooms. And adding mayo, basil pesto, fresh lettuce and tomato to the mix? We’re here for it. ($8.95) The Rim, 17623 La Cantera Parkway #101, 210 434-2337.
click to enlarge The Chilaquiles Burger from Burgerteca - ERIK GUSTAFSON
  • Erik Gustafson
  • The Chilaquiles Burger from Burgerteca
The Family Friendly Choice // The Cove
There aren’t many places that can simultaneously offer tasty burgers, live music performances, a play area for children, dozens of regionally brewed beers and a car wash too. Yet, somehow, the Cove pulls it off. The house Swiss burger, topped with sauteed mushrooms, onions, greens and sriracha mayo, may be the best option when craving a burger in to an environment that can accommodate the whole family, regardless of age, attention span or food preferences. ($12) 606 W. Cypress St. (210) 227-2683.

The Key West // Hawx Burger Bar
Eating healthier options doesn’t require you to sacrifice flavor. Case in point: Hawx’s juicy grilled chicken burger, which comes with pineapple salsa, lettuce, sliced avocado, low-fat mayonnaise and cucumbers. It’s a refreshing red-meat alternative for those who need it — or crave it. ($8.95) 2603 Vance Jackson Road, (210) 320-4299.

The Late Nighter // Charlie Brown’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill
Much of the city may shut down by 10 p.m., but this neighborhood bar keeps the party going with karaoke, drinks and its Spicy Burger. The casual, not-too-incendiary sandwich features a beef patty and two slices of Texas Toast with caramelized onion, jalapenos, bacon, pepper jack, chipotle ranch and Tabasco hot sauce. Obviously, you can always add more hot sauce if you’re feeling the burn. ($10.75) 11888 Starcrest Dr., Ste. 101, (210) 496-7092.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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