rocket science. Some time ago I wrote: “There’s a lot of bad pizza out there and we have eaten more than our share.” Well, the same thing could be said for hamburgers. What is it with this trend to desecrate the noble burger? Who wants mac and cheese on their burger? Or wants two grilled cheese sandwiches to be substituted for the bun?
We are back in Kerrville, located in the Texas Hill Country. Why Kerrville you may be asking. Because Kerrville is home to two of our favorite “on-the-road-restaurants”—Hill Country Café and Classics Burgers & Moore--both owned by Mike and Cindy Piper. After living in hamburger exile until our recent outing at Lumpy’s in Albuquer-que, we were anxious to see if the hamburgers at Classics matched our memories.
“Mike and Cindy Piper opened Classics Burgers and ‘Moore’ in May 2002 and it has since made its mark in Kerrville, receiving the Kerrville Daily Times' Readers' Choice Award 8 years in a row for Best Burger. At Classics we take our food seriously, and understand that it is not just to fill you up but to excite and sooth your taste buds. Our burgers are never frozen, prepared by hand and cooked with care. Our vegetables are from a local distributor, never frozen, and prepared fresh daily” (classicsburgers.net). (Mike and Cindy, you need to update the sign.)
Classics earns 5.0 stars on yelp.com. 4.5 stars on urbanspoon.com, and 4.5 stars on tripadvisor.com. But even more noteworthy is their being named number forty (out of fifty) on the list of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Burgers in Texas. “While not huge, Classics' cheeseburger requires a two-handed grip to be properly managed. Its patty is handmade from beef freshly ground that day and nestled under crisp condiments on a butter-toasted bun. They'll respectfully cook it to your specs (a rarity in smaller-town burger joints, we're sorry to report), and even the ‘medium’ stayed nice and tender till the last bite. The lightly battered fries crowding the plate define ‘addictive’" (texasmonthly.com).
The décor is a cleaner and more modern version of the ‘50’s hamburger joint with medium blue walls offset by red and white checked table covers. The red and white checks are mimicked in the café curtains. The walls are hung with car “stuff,” John Wayne posters, old lunch boxes, and American flags.
Once you have thoroughly reviewed the menu board, you place your order at the counter and are given a number to take to your seat. The menu includes hot dogs, corn dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, Philly cheesesteaks, chicken tenders, and steak strips (strips of steak that are breaded and fried and served with a side of white country gravy). But as the name suggests, this place is all about the hamburger.
What makes them special? First, the meat is fresh (never frozen), each patty weighs in at a heaping six ounces, the very good buns are toasted, and the lettuce, onions, and tomato toppings are crisp and fresh. Second, as Texas Monthly said, they cook to your degree of doneness so that I could savor my medium, while Chuck reveled with his medium well. Unless you request otherwise, all hamburgers come with mayonnaise and mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion. And the woman working the order counter checks to make sure that you want all of the trappings. Not liking mustard on hamburgers, I appreciated the heads up and chance to say “hold the mustard.”
My selection was the Jalapeno Swiss Mushroom Burger (I almost went with the
Bacon Swiss Jalapeno Mushroom Burger). It was immediately obvious that this represented the best of this All-American sandwich. The mushrooms—In ample quantity—certainly didn’t come from a can. The jalapenos—again in ample quantity—didn’t overwhelm the sandwich. Rather than iceberg, the lettuce was green leaf. And the tomato was fresh and juicy.
Chuck chose the Double Meat Double Cheeseburger—two six-ounce hamburger patties each with cheese. Yes. Two six ounce patties. Twelve ounces of meat! Condiments? Onion only. I must say that he was eating slowly there at the end.
We also shared a medium order of coated fries (I talked him down from two small orders.) and a medium basket of onion rings. While the onion rings were thicker cut than we normally like, the translucent pepper-flecked batter was perfect. I have to assume that since the vegetables come into the restaurant fresh, they coat the fries in house. Oh, how I so wish I knew how they do this.
I’ll end with a quote from Jeff K. on yelp.com: “Between Texas Monthly leaving off Chris Madrid's and NOT putting Classics in the Top 5, I don't know if I can trust TM's lists anymore. Shame!
“Seriously, this is the BEST cheeseburger I've ever eaten!...this is the whole experience. Incredible, thick beef patty, perfectly fresh fixin’s, and tasty tender buns…The onions, green leaf lettuce (not iceberg), bacon, toasted bun, cheese, and quality of the beef show that they don't rely on just one aspect of the burger to make it work, but instead put effort into making every bit of it based on quality…Kudos, Classics, for making my visits to Kerrville so enjoyable!”
Yes Jeff, a visit to the 5.0 Addies Classics Burgers & "Moore" makes a visit to Kerrville enjoyable.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.