Tag Archives: Chicago

Hut’s Hamburgers

I found Hut’s Hamburgers quite by accident. I was downtown, starving my ass off, and right on 6th Street. Up ahead, a shining beacon: Hut’s Hamburgers! I love me some all-beef patties, so—badda boom, badda bing—I stepped inside and was instantly transported back in time.

Outside of Hut's Hamburgers (photo via hutsfrankandangies.com)

I’m not sure what era, exactly, Hut’s is currently channeling, but the place has been around since 1939, so there’s plenty of memorabilia to gawk at. Penants from all manner of university teams, photos signed by famous sports heros and celebrities, Texas license plates, neon lights, a longhorn steer’s head, and a big woolly buffalo head. While you wait for your food, you’ll likely find yourself wondering where all this stuff came from, how long it’s been there, and what the story behind it all could be.

Inside, Hut's Hamburgers (photo via hutsfrankandangies.com)

But then you’ll get your juicy burger, with all manner of unusual condiments and fixin’s, and all of your concentration will be diverted toward enjoying it to the fullest—while it lasts. Those burgers are often devoured as fast as they’re placed on the table, so be prepared! Plus, they’ll put everything but the kitchen sink on there, if you want it. (Actually, they’ve even got a “Sink Burger” on the menu.) Chili, jalapeños, various cheeses from Swiss to Cheddar to Bleu, mushrooms, guacamole, even pineapple, my friends. Plus all the usual suspects like mustard, mayo, ketchup and (my favorite) delicious salty bacon. God bless America, and Texas for spicing things up!

In my opinion, the best burger on the menu is the “Mr. Blue,” a delightful mix of bleu cheese crumbles with dressing, Swiss cheese, lettuce, bacon and one of Hut’s Texas-bred longhorn-beef patties. Grass-fed, hormone-free, this beef is some of the best, and with these simple but classic toppings, it’s a surefire winner. Another one I’m tempted by is the “Milner’s Mushroom Burger,” with thick, creamy mushroom sauce and grated cheese. And you can’t go wrong with the all-American classics like the “Hut’s Favorite” (mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and American cheese), “The Dagburger” (double the meat plus mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and American cheese), or the aptly-named “All American Buddy Holly Burger” (mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and American cheese).

If you’re feeling wild and crazy, and have somehow wound up at Hut’s without a craving for a juicy burger (are ye MAD?!), the menu also offers all manner of fast-food eats, from hot dogs and grilled cheese to southern-style Po’ Boys, NYC-style Reubens and pure Texas chili. For dinner, there are also plate specials on chicken-fried steaks, fried chicken, meat loaf and catfish on Fridays (the menu states “while supplies last,” which makes me wonder how fast catfish goes in Texas, anyway). Grab a soup and a salad if you’re on a diet, and be sure to save room for dessert, cus they’ve got old-fashioned milkshakes, Coke and root-beer floats, fudge brownies and a Brownie Blitz—one of their fudge brownies blended into a milkshake and topped with whipped cream. Yum!

As far as specials go, this one’s tops: On Wednesdays, from 6-10 PM, Hut’s offers a “happy hour” on all their burgers, where you can get two of the same type for the price of one. Yowza! For vegetarians, you can get the same deal on Monday nights as well (but only on veggie burgers). More good news for vegetarians: All of their veggie burgers are made in-house, fresh, and never frozen.

I’m glad I stopped by, as Hut’s is one of those places I’ll return to again and again, trying something different every time. Plus, it’s a great place to people-watch (especially during the lunchtime rush) or take a trip down memory lane. Although I’m not old enough to remember the 1950s, I do remember going to a similar 1950s-esque joint in Chicago when I was a kid. Portillo’s is now a chain throughout the Chicagoland area, while Hut’s remains at its’ original location, but the vibe at each was the same: good food, good prices, and plenty of atmosphere. Just what I like from my nostalgia-laden fast-food eateries. Dig it!

P.S. Be sure to check out their sister restaurant, the Italian Frank & Angie’s, just behind Hut’s if you’re in the mood for pizza and pasta, or a nice Francis Ford Coppola wine.

ADDRESS: 807 West 6th Street
PHONE: 512-472-0693
ONLINE: hutsfrankandangies.com

Austin thin-crust pizza round-up

As the New Girl in town, I’ve been ordering a lot of pizza. I’m busy setting up a new apartment, trying to find a job, and just can’t be arsed to cook sometimes between the laundry and the blogging and the trying to find a decent damn dollar store where stuff actually costs only one dollar. I’m sure this happens to everyone. (Maybe not the dollar store thing.) Of course, being the New Girl, I also have no idea which places are good for delivery-style pizza. And, man, can this be a problem when it shows up at my door looking all sorry and smushed.

"Home Slice of My Heart" (photo by Flickr user FilmNut)

I’ve tried my share of the U.S. chains over the years, and while I seemed to recall Papa John’s being pretty good back in the days when I lived at my parents’ place and we actually had to pull a Seinfeld-esque scam to get them to deliver to us (the cut-off for delivery to our area was literally the house next door; we would give their address and sit in the driveway with the cash), it seems their wares haven’t withstood the test of time. Either that or I’m getting picky in my old age, but I’d like to think a cardboard-like crust has never qualified as a pizza.

Still, Papa’s got locations everywhere and you can order online, which is something a phone-phobic weirdo like me can appreciate. As some say, bad pizza’s like sex: even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

I don’t typically share that opinion, however—not outside of NYC, anyway—so I’ve been on the hunt for a more satisfying pie. I gave Gatti’s a try, but was similarly disappointed in their thin crust. Their toppings, however, delighted me more than Papa John’s, and you can also order online. (Seems to be a trend here in town, which I applaud. Now if they’d just take Paypal…) Smoked provolone cheese on a pizza? Nice touch, boys. You’ve got goombatz.

After I got a hot tip from my banker, I hit up Austin’s Pizza. Of the thin-crust pizzerias in town, so far I’ve enjoyed Austin’s the most. Now, you can order online here, but it seems my credit card has expired (this after my fuggin’ bank just sent me a replacement card a month ago; nice job, maroons!), so I had to do it the old-fashioned way and call. The gal I spoke to was friendly and polite and gave me the same price they quoted me online, which includes a $2 delivery fee. I’ve noticed most of the joints around here have this fee, which ranges from about two to four bucks a pie, and it makes me wonder: does this mean I should leave out the tip for the delivery guy? Or is this just another way to jack up the price?

Anyway, Austin’s was smooth. You can get a small or a large (10 or 14″), build your own or pick from some of their tried-and-true selections. The Californian with grilled chicken, spinach, Roma tomatoes, red onions, garlic and cheddar cheese was calling my name, but I ultimately opted for a DIY mushroom + “breakfast bacon” (as opposed to “Canadian bacon”—which Canadians actually refer to as “back bacon”) + Jack cheddar cheese/mozzarella concoction that hit the spot. Nice thin crust, not at all cardboard-y (score!), plenty of cheese, salty bacon, and decent mushroom spread. Could’ve used a bit more from the topping distribution (I find Austin pizzerias to be a bit chintzy on the toppings in general), but it was definitely the tastiest thin-crust pie I’ve had thus far.

Oh: I was also terribly tempted to throw in one of their Butter’s Brownies, described as “A locally-made chocolate chip square of heaven, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Donna Hicken Foundation for women living with breast cancer, and the Mayo Clinic.” I mean, chocolate heaven AND donating to breast cancer? That’s hot! Alas, I did not give into this temptation, but perhaps next time. I do love me some brownies.

Giordano's: the One True Chicago Deep-Dish pizza!

I should add that I’ve also tried Conan’s Pizza, but I’m waiting on another suggestion from the Foodie Banker to compare and contrast their “Chicago style” with another in town. As a born-‘n’-raised Chicagoan (okay, okay: I’m really from the western suburbs, but eff off, willya?), I’ve got hometown pride about the proper way to build an authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza. And obviously, Giordano’s is the One True Chicago Deep-Dish, but since they have yet to set up shop here in Austin, I’m giving the locals a chance to prove themselves.

So, any suggestions for a worthy pie—deep-dish or thin-crust? Knock my socks off!