Burger Time: Affordable seasoned smasher at Buddy's Burger blends old and new
This meaty piece of criticism (named after an ’80s arcade game) is part of a recurring series of burger reviews. For a list of some of the best restaurants in Austin, check out the Austin360 Dining Guide at austin360.com/eats.
Double Classic with cheese at Buddy’s Burger
The grade: A-
Bottom line: Affordable seasoned smasher blends old and new.
The setting: The Fidai family opened Buddy’s Burger in July in a small development on Cameron Road that looks like it only recently came out of the plastic. The restaurant offers limited dine-in and patio seating and does a robust drive-thru business.
The burger: Buddy’s Burger blends the new school with the old. That means hormone-free and never-frozen beef smashed into small, 3-ounce patties, capped with a suspended lava flow of American cheese and scattered with the shrapnel of shredded lettuce. Unlike some newer, fancier burger options, the price remains very affordable ($5.39 for a 6-ounce double with cheese) and the set up is classic — no heirloom tomatoes, hydroponic butter lettuce or fancy cheese that requires a Google search.
The ragged and floppy patties cling to each other as if to keep from spilling out of the slightly sweet bun smeared with a tangy spread called Buddy’s Smack Sauce. The meat is generously salted, enhancing the beef's flavor, and pressed as thin as pancake, with its woven edges betraying the lightest crunch of caramelized char. Each bite packs all of the savory, juicy, tangy and crunchy wallop you hope for from a cheeseburger. Curiously, pickles don't come standard (they can be added gratis), but as a man with Major Pickle Opinions, I liked not having to sweat the pickle cut or quality, which allowed me to enjoy the burger basics. The seasoned shoestring French fries dusted with a mild pepper punch come from a bag, but they complement that nostalgia pop of the burger.
Patrick Terry has proven with the 16-year run of his P. Terry’s empire that Austinites are hungry for a fast, affordable burger made with better ingredients than the national chains offer. While it wouldn’t be fair to either the nascent Buddy’s Burger or the dominant P. Terry’s (with its deep pockets and infrastructure of customer service, real estate and engineering savvy) to directly compare a nascent operation with the reigning king of the niche, it is clear that a path has been cleared and lighted for a place like Buddy’s. Buy some (theoretical) stock in Buddy’s Burger, because I think they have the blueprint to be around a while.
Price: $5.39 for a 6-ounce double with cheese
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Location and contact: 9001 Cameron Road. 512-401-3325, buddysburger.com.
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