GREATEST BURGER – BRISKET BURGER WITH PORK BELLY

For generations, a burger was a burger was a burger: a crispy-edged brown beef patty perched on a squishy white store-bought bun snuggled up to some pink tomato slices, pale-green iceberg lettuce, dill pickles, raw onions, and a healthy swipe of yellow mustard (no ketchup, please—this is Texas). If you were lucky, the grease didn’t dissolve the tissue wrapper until you were halfway through. 

Then, sometime around forty years ago, everything changed. For reasons that we will leave to the historians, burgers started to go crazy. As we opined in the introduction to our first fifty-best-burgers story, seven years ago, the thin-patty, no-nonsense burger of bygone days was upstaged by the buxom, tricked-out version of the twenty-first century.

But that was in 2009, a lifetime in burger years. We began to wonder, Just exactly what isthe state of the burgerlution? In order to find out, we rallied a team of 24 fearless, bordering on fanatical, eaters and instructed them to canvass Texas from Tyler to Terlingua and from the High Plains to the Rio Grande Valley. When the mustard had settled, we had tasted 367 individual burgers. Conclusion: not only has the burger revolution continued, the creations are more varied, ambitious, and delicious than ever.

The list of burgers we serve up here is entirely new. We invite you to check it out, and please tell us if you know of something fantastic we overlooked—it’s never too soon to start gathering nominations for our next top fifty. Our fun may be over. Yours is just beginning.

It’s hard not to salivate when this burger lands at your table. Known for New American fare that combines elegant plates and complex techniques, Folc delivers a brisket-and-pork-belly burger that offers a near-salacious experience. Cast aside any notions of neatness, because your linen napkin will definitely earn its keep. The tender patty has an over-the-top 70-to-30 meat-to-fat ratio, but what sends it over the moon is a slice of seared pork belly. The duo pairs well with a sunny-side-up egg—sop up any runaway yolk with Folc’s excellent blanched-and-fried fingerling potatoes.

by Patricia Sharpe, with Leslie Baldwin, Courtney Bond, Jessica Elizarraras, Michael Hall, Leanne Hedrick, Michael Hiller, Abby Johnston, Emily Kimbro, Paul Knight, June Naylor, Tony Privett, J.C. Reid, Kevin Tankersley, Daniel Vaughn, Christiane Wartell, and Texas Monthly restaurant reviewers

PHOTOGRAPH BY JODY HORTON

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