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Bellaire Broiler Burger offers a no-frills eating experience, accentuated by quality ingredients and a substantial price.
The small, cube-like building is visible from the Bellaire-Bissonnet intersection and barely has fifteen parking spots to its name. The building’s front end, which has the only panel of windows, features an attractive view for hungry patrons: a gristled broiler covered with patties of different sizes and a mound of uncooked bacon ready to sizzle.
Walking inside only confirms the prefab, 1950s aesthetic that defines the building’s look. Its walls have wooden paneling and burgundy linoleum floors, and the servers’ custom of walking orders to patrons is strikingly foreign in today’s grab-and-go eating culture.
A quick chat with the cashier revealed the establishment’s history: the eatery was established as Burton’s Broiler Burger in the early 1950s, and purchased by the cashier’s uncle in 1972, when it received its current name.
And as the name and understated décor suggests, Broiler Burger treats the notion of “good ol’ American eats” very seriously. The yellow menu offers each edible separately and in rather blunt terms.
For instance, the hamburgers are defined by their toppings, such as the “1,” which has barbecue sauce, onions, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes. In fact, their most extravagant items, like the “Bellaire special,” have a beefier patty or cheese and bacon included.
On one hand, their matter-of-fact approach shows the attention to quality over fancy names and colorful packaging. Their burgers are comprised of a butter-toasted bun with the flame-broiled patty the size of a CD resting atop a bed of lettuce, tomato, tart pickles and condiments.
Any extras like cheddar cheese or jalapenos lie on top of the patty, and the bacon, although pricy, is definitely worth the $2: three thick strips that jut out from both sides and emit salty, char-tinged notes throughout the wealth of other flavors and also provide a lovingly crunchy texture.
The crinkle-cut fries, a more understood tradition, offer no crunch or even a salty rush. It is an underwhelming side dish that barely merits the steep cost.
Their onion rings do offer a respite, as they resemble miniatures of Saturn’s rings and come piping hot, crunchy and layered in oil.
The restaurant obviously serves food for those not following a strict diet. Buying the $7.25 chef salad, for instance, should not even cross a person’s mind.
Save the calorie cutting for other establishments; this eatery deserves an adventurous appetite for full enjoyment. Eating here also requires a modest flexibility in the budget. A straight burger only costs around $5, but any accoutrement such as extras or the usually inclusive side item hikes up the price considerably.
It is odd, though, that adding bacon bears a greater monetary burden than adding a second patty. Its family-owned status clearly implies a stronger opportunity cost, though it sometimes appears arbitrary on the receiving end.
Broiler Burger does know how to flip a delicious burger though, and that matters most. People eager to try out the venue ought to come prepared to break off more dollars than what they are used to, but also enjoy a hearty take on the American staple.