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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lunch Report: Texas Hamburger Company...

Before I tell you about our visit to the Texas Hamburger Company you need to know that we have tried numerous places that people have suggested for burgers and many times, after trying the new place my wife and I look at one another as if maybe we got the address wrong or perhaps, the person had been there years ago and the place was under new ownership or something. This doesn't for a minute suggest that a place is bad per se (and THC certainly is not that), it just makes us wonder if we have become so spoiled with really good places to get a really good burger, that something that is just good or okay is now sub-standard.

I don't have any complaints about going through the drive-thru at McDonald's or Burger King to grab a burger for a quick lunch (though admittedly, I can count the number of times I've done that this year on less than I single hand - maybe a peace sign), but if family was visiting Texas and asked where to get a "good" burger, I'm pretty sure I would never suggest 'Donald's or BK.

The other issue for me is the effort to get to the food in question versus the goodness that results from the trip. Using the above example, would you ever see yourself driving across town to get a double cheeseburger from McDonald's? Probably not. But if you happen to be driving down the road and get a hankerin' to spend the 99 cents that has been burning a hole in your pocket, that Mickey D's double cheeseburger is an awesome little treat.
So I hope you can appreciate where I'm coming from when I tell you that we went to the Texas Hamburger Company off of Huebner (for those of you not from San Antonio, it is pronounced Heeb-ner, not Hughb-ner) to grab a burger, and enjoyed the extra thick malts and the fries.The first thing you notice about the place is that it is very bright and clean inside. There is the standard usage of old gas station signage and a few obligatory antiques (like old stoves and a piano) scattered around the place for atmosphere, but I get the feeling this may have been an afterthought with more effort put into efficiency and cleanliness.THC is one of those places where you walk in, order your vittles and pay, then find a seat. I like that. There is plenty of seating including a selection of tables and booths and even an upstairs area in case the place gets crowded (which I suspect it does, often). The lady taking our order was extremely friendly, efficient and helpful, explaining the specials and such. The grill area is open to the view of customers, so you can see them working on your order.Whenever we try a new place, if they have onion rings, we like to try them, and of course, fries are required. We got a split basket and I thought it was a generous portion for the price. The fries looked to be, no kidding cut potatoes, prepared on site. Even if they aren't, they were excellent. The onion rings are just not our type. I've mentioned before that I don't like the super hard crunchy onion rings that come in a frozen bag, but I know many folks who do. To their credit, the few onion rings we did eat were not overcooked; in fact, for that style they were perfect.My wife ordered a Cheddar Burger. The patties are the 1/3 pound pre-packaged things - I'm guessing they are not handmade on premises. If you had ever tried Lone Star Grill (no longer in business), I'm certain they used the same supplier. The buns are grilled the way we like them and the condiments are done right. I looked for signs of a happy dance, but it never seemed to come.I got the Bacon Cheese Burger. It looks to me as if they use no kidding, strips of bacon fried up in a pan right there; bonus! They put together a good burger, cooked well, and done so in a reasonably quick time. I can't complain at all other than I thought it was a bit spendy.Instead of tea, we tried the chocolate malts. They use real Blue Bell ice cream and they were very, very good. If you go, try one.

At the end of the day, I think much is expected from a burger place that takes on the moniker "Texas Hamburger Company". If they were called Schmedley's Burgers or something like that, I probably wouldn't even give it a second thought, but I think somebody visiting San Antonio or the Medical Center area might get the idea that upon entering, you are about to enjoy a real Texas burger.

If I could change anything about the place, I would offer a big hand made patty and I would get rid of those packaged onion rings and have the same guy making the hand made burger patties frying up some battered rings to go along with the already excellent french fries and Blue Bell malts. That would be a Texas Hamburger Company and that would also be a Tasty Treat. Until then, you may as well hit the drive-thru for the 99 cent double cheeseburger at 'Donald's.

Have you been to THC? Am I wrong? Tell me about it.


Maureen said...

Years ago, they were comparable to Chester's or Little Hipps. They aren't as good as they used to be, and I find them to be quite greasy. You must have caught them on a slow day, too, re the cleanliness. The last time we were there it was almost closing time, and the table was a little slick in some parts, sticky in others.......We passed by there today and I noticed the faded sign and empty parking lot, and I just think with a bit of effort, they could get back to their glory days. Back in the 90's, the upstairs DID get used a lot. Now, not so much.

And dang, you two are some picky burger-eaters!! You don't even like Chris Madrid's much! I guess you're spoiled by those square ones you make yourselves. ;-]]

Dave said...

Picky? Probably. But I have never - ever - complained about what I get at What-a-Burger, so in my mind, if you market yourself as a burger place, you have to do at least as good (or better) than fast food. Right?

And in fairness, I was okay with Chris Madrid's, but my wife was simply not impressed.

I think what happens is, some places get a really good reputation and have a good run, then some management changes occur, cost cutting starts, and the next thing you know, they are just average. Maybe this happened to THC, and maybe Chris Madrid's too.

Q said...

We tried it a couple months ago...prefer Bobby J's, lord's kitchen, and even Red Robbin. Just not impressed!

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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