Mighty Fine Burgers – Austin, TX

We’re doing a repeat this week. It’s been three years since we first visited a Mighty Fine Burgers location, and we figured it might be time to go back and check up on them.

With five Austin locations, now, it’s not hard to “Keep Austin Mighty” by visiting this place when in town. We’ve only been to the University Oaks location, but it has been consistent every time, over a period of several years. that counts for a lot in our dining considerations.

There are three dining areas at this location – indoors, indoor patio, or outdoor patio (dog friendly). The indoor areas are filled with long trestle tables, benches and chairs, family style. The outdoor patio has picnic tables with umbrellas, presided over by a monstrous spreading oak. There’s also a play area for the kids beneath that ancient tree.

A refresher on the simplicity of the menu:

Not counting the kids’ menu, the burgers only come in two patty sizes – 1/2 pound and 1/4 pound. You may, of course, double up, but that’s up to you and your stomach. There’s also a crispy chicken breast available to grace your bun if you prefer.

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Half Pound Cheeseburger

Burgers are alternately available on a gluten free bun for a dollar more, or in a bowl without a bun at all at no extra charge. The place can get a bit noisy around the lunch and dinner rush times, so be sure they hear you if you ask for these options.

Burgers or chicken come with your choice of shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced onion, crinkle cut dill pickles, and grilled onions. Condiments are known simply as Red (ketchup), Yeller (mustard), or White (mayo) so don’t get confused when the person taking your order uses those terms. For a little extra you can have cheese, jalapenos, bacon, chili, or avocado added.

They offer crinkle cut fries and light and crispy onion rings deep fried in 100% trans-fat free peanut oil. Either may be ordered with cheese or chili.

 

DSC_0476Hand-dipped shakes come in the standard vanilla, strawberry or chocolate. The lemonade is fresh squeezed on site either original or strawberry. Specialty bottled sodas and beer are available. Fountain drinks and tea have unlimited refills, and depending on what you order you may need them.

 

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Half Pound Chili Cheeseburger with extra pickles.

Don’t forget the napkins. Lots of napkins.

If you are wanting some nutritional information, I suggest checking it out after you’ve tasted their food. A PDF containing the relevant statistics is available online.

About those pickles? My money is on them being the fat cut kosher dills from the Mt. Olive line.

On the 1-5 scale, Mighty Fine gets:
Cleanliness – 5
Service – 5
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – Moderate
Overall experience – 5
Mighty Fine Burgers
201 University Oaks Blvd
Suite 1380
Round Rock, TX 78664
(512) 381-3310

–Ann Cathey

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Cruise Cuisine – the Lido Collection

No matter what sort of cruise you are on, some things are included in the price package – like food. While some of the fancier establishments come with an upcharge, like Fahrenheit 555 on the Carnival Breeze, many are part of the experience.

The Carnival Breeze offers a lot of food, and we tried out some of the offerings on board during our sea days.

 

The Captain’s Pasta Bar

This lovely lunch option is hosted in the Cucina del Capitano. You are given a printed from upon which you mark your choices of pasta, sauce, meats, and vegetables. What comes back to you is nothing short of delicious.

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The Build Your Own Pasta Bowl from Cucina del Capitano. Chicken, shrimp, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, bowtie pasta and Alfredo sauce topped with grated Parmesan.

 

Guy’s Burger Joint

That’s right – Guy Fieri has a burger joint on several of the Carnival line ships. Not only was the staff great about leaving the buns off, the condiments bar had bacon and sautéed mushrooms in addition to lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions, mayo mustard, ketchup, chipotle mayo, and a list of hot sauces and salsas.

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Two patties with cheese, chipotle mayo, fries and ketchup.

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Two patties with cheese sautéed mushroom, bacon, pickles, mayo and fries.

 

Mongolian Wok

Step right up and pick your veggies and noodles, putting however much you like in a bowl. give it to the chef who will cook it up in a wok for you, adding your meat or meats of choice, and your choice of mild, medium or hot sauce. What he hands back to you is a steaming bowl of customized stir-fry that made our day.

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noodles, zucchini, yellow squash, bamboo shoots, baby corn, mushrooms, chicken, and Szechuan sauce (hot).

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Glass noodles, green peas, green beans, baby corn, mushrooms, zucchini, bean sprouts, chicken with black bean sauce (mild).

 

Fat Jimmy’s C-side BBQ

While not BBQ in the Texas sense, this was some wholesome chow served grilled or chilled as tradition calls for.

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Pulled pork on toasted bun, roasted eggplant and sweet potato, baked beans, habanero aioli, coleslaw, and hidden in the back is some grilled sausage.

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Coleslaw, Italian sausage (mild), Kielbasa (medium), pulled pork, and roasted eggplant and sweet potato. Forgot the mustard…

 

We also breakfasted at the BlueIguana Cantina, nibbled a bit of Pirate Pizza, took in all day meals in the Lido Marketplace, and partook of the Seaday Brunches in the Blush dining salon. Some meals were decidedly better than others, but very little let us down.

–Ann Cathey

Gypsy Joynt – Galveston, Texas

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In a building that has survived multiple hurricanes, a little hippie restaurant opened that’s a definite winner. Gypsy Joynt is an eclectic mix of atmosphere, food, coffees, and desserts that’s sure to grab your attention. Don’t be fooled by the exterior where the flagpoles proudly bear bandannas, t-shirts and jeans, this place rocks.

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From the time we walked in to the time we left, we were treated to an array of Rolling Stones music. Seemed to be the sound of the day and we didn’t mind in the slightest. The dj booth is built of what looks like scavenged wood, with racks of LPs, and a command station presided over by a computer that rules the sound system. I didn’t get too good a look at the rest of the goodies in the booth, as there was so much more to see.

There’s a lot of dark wood, including the tables and mismatched chairs, that helps to give a comfortably cave-like feel to the interior, Shawls hung over the windows, scarves and beads from the ceiling, with a scattered mix of period posters, toys, and other implementada ranging from the late 50’s to the mid 70’s along the walls. The bar top (they do serve beer) where you place your order, is cut from an old pool table. The slab still has it’s felt jacket, and the pockets their leather baskets.

Pick up a menu and be prepared for a wild ride!

From pizza to focacia sandwiches and wraps, to salads to a truly decadent dessert bar, this place seems to have a little bit of everything.

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Smoretella – Nutella, toasted marshmallow, Graham cracker.

Autumn Cocoa – fudge, pumpkin spice, homemade pumpkin marshmallow.

 

 

Rocco Rocks – mac-n-cheese and brisket pizza. Think what you will, but one of our tablemates called it “possibly the perfect pizza”.

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dsc_0021Big & Sloppy – a chili cheeseburger that might best be served on a plate instead of a burger basket! I ordered bunless and was not disappointed. The grilled sirloin patty was served up beneath sliced cheddar and a ton of house-made chili. The chili wasn’t hot, which was a very pleasant change from today’s trend toward scorching your face off, though it usually comes with hot onions and jalapenos. Yes, those are sweet potato waffle fries.

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I Love Lucy – This lovely combo sandwich was ordered as a wrap. Stuffed with ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, house-made pickles and mustard, it was a tasty and filling meal when coupled with the sweet potato waffle fries.

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House-made pickles – What a pleasant surprise! With a firm crunch, these thick wavy slices come in somewhere between hamburger dills and kosher, with a sweet afterglow on the back of the tongue.

 

When next you are on Galveston Island and feeling a bit peckish, skip the Strand and give this Joynt a try.

On the 1-5 scale, Gypsy Joynt gets:
Cleanliness – 4.5
Service – 3
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3.5
Overall experience – 4.2

Gypsy Joynt
2711 Market Street
Galveston, Texas 77550
409-497-2069

 

— Ann Cathey

Burger Fresh – Conroe, TX

What was apparently over advertised as one of Conroe’s hidden gems turned out to be a bit of a disappointment for us when we visited for the first time. Even the window ads screamed of it’s popularity, highlighting several offerings and a rating in Texas Monthly’s Best Burgers in Texas.

Burger Fresh is a small establishment with a broad offering of burgers and sides, and even it’s own brand of hot sauce called “Road Kill”. Ordering a side with a full-size burger will get you free refills on the side order, too.IMG_1013

IMG_1015The by-the-register special of the day when we visited was a double with fries and a drink. Little did we suspect it was a Junior burger, though we figured on the one-shot fries and medium drink. It was on special, after all.

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The fried pickles were the day’s saving grace, being thin, crispy, and flavorful. The crunch was simply sublime! If for nothing else, I will return to Burger Fresh for the fried pickles.

 

We do plan to return to this location and try the “grown-up” burgers. from what we’ve seen, they should be vastly better than the Jr. burgers. They had better be for the price.

IMG_1018On the 1-5 scale, Burger Fresh gets:
Cleanliness – 4
Service – 3
Quality of food – 3
Flavor – 3
Pricing – 3
Overall experience – 3.2

Burger Fresh
804 Gladstell St #110
Conroe, TX 77304
(936) 756-4414

–Ann Cathey

Freddy’s Steakburgers – Houston TX

DSC_0838We happened to go on an outing to a gun show, and came back out really hungry. There was a Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in a shared parking lot and as we have never been to a location in that chain, we decided to give it a go.

You can check out the menu here.

I had the patty melt, while my partner ordered a chili cheese burger. I loved it that the pickles were thick cut and kosher dill. Sadly, the portions were small for the price, in spite of the heaps of fries. Burger patties were thin and dry regardless of what was piled on top of them.

The fries were crispy when fresh, and being extremely thin cut, they cooled and lost their appeal rather quickly.

DSC_0837The house sauce was reminiscent of other establishments “special” or “secret” sauce and may well be commercially available under another name all together.

Not terribly impressed with the food. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t up to our standards, either. I am fairly certain, since this is a chain establishment, that the food at other locations will be similar if not just the same.

We did not have an opportunity to try the vaunted frozen custard or Chicago dogs, though we are now leery of doing so. Freddy’s feels like someone cobbled together ideas from other popular restaurants without bothering to take the time to ensure the quality before throwing it out there to try to make a buck.

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At least the tea was fresh.

 

 

 

On the 1-5 scale, Freddy’s Steakburgers gets:
Cleanliness – 4
Service – 3
Quality of food – 2.5
Flavor – 3
Pricing – 3
Overall experience – 3.1

Freddy’s Steakburgers
19370 N Freeway Service Dr
Spring, TX 77373
Phone:(281) 907-6553
— Ann Cathey

Stuttgarden Tavern – Galveston, TX

DSC_0532Touted as the “Best Lil’ Beer Garden in Galveston”, Stuttgarden Tavern is located on the east end of the Historic Strand area, just off 21st Street. It is an open air patio style restaurant serving food, beer on tap and bottled, wine, and featuring a greenhouse-enclosed full service liquor bar.

 

 

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The food is German or has a distinctive biergarten bent, and is outstandingly tasty.

 

 

DSC_0462 Irish Nachos Stuttgarden

 

Irish Nachos – waffle fries topped with minced meat (pulled pork this time), cheddar cheese, bacon bits and sour cream. [photo]

 

DSC_0543 Sauerkraut Balls Stuttgarden

 

 

Sauerkraut Balls – delightful balls of sauerkraut, breaded, fried, and offered up with dipping sauces.

DSC_0461 Banger n Mash Stuttgarden

 

 

 

Banger & Mash – bratwurst (choose from hot, cheese stuffed, mild or seasonal) served with mach potatoes and gravy and braised cabbage.

 

DSC_0456 Gouda Brat Stuttgarden

Gouda Brat – served on an oversized hot-dog style bun, this bratwurst is covered in sauteed mushrooms and onions, with a lavish application of smoked Gouda beer fondue. (Pictured is the seasonal brat, stuffed with mixed venison and other meats.)

 

DSC_0546 Brat Sampler Plate Stuttgarden

 

Brat Sampler Plate – a variety of brats to choose from (hot, cheese stuffed, mild or seasonal) , with ‘kraut and cabbage sides.

 

 

DSC_0457 the Stephen Stuttgarden

 

The Steven – a half pound of beef served with house made BBQ sauce, house made pickles, a fried onion ring and cheddar on a grilled bun.

 

 

DSC_0458 Trd Burger w German Potatoes StuttgardenThe Traditional Burger – a half pound of beef served with lettuce, tomato, house made pickles and shaved onion on a slightly sweet grilled bun. (Photo includes Swiss and avocado.)

German Potato Salad – served cold or warm on request, featuring sliced red potato, bacon, green onion, and house dressing.

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Order in or for takeout. You can even call in an order for pick-up any time during the kitchen hours.

This place is also dog friendly. Their website proclaims, “We like dogs… Dogs are always welcome on the patio.”

DSC_0533On the 1-5 scale, Stuttgarden Tavern gets:
Cleanliness – 4
Service – 4
Quality of food – 4.5
Flavor – 4.5
Pricing – 4
Overall experience – 4.2

Stuttgarden Tavern on the Strand
2110 Strand Street
Galveston, TX 77550
(409) 497-4972

–Ann Cathey

Cafe Michael Burger – Galveston, TX

DSC_0481The steps outside of this pylon mounted restaurant are a tad steep, but we mounted them courageously to find a super clean indoor dining area with an understated surf theme going on. At Cafe Michael Burger you pick up your laminated menu and have a seat while you decide on which offerings you want to order, and there are plenty to choose form. When you are ready, step on up to the register and tell the nice folks what you want. You are rung up at this point and given a buzzer about the size of an old cell phone. It will blink and vibrate when your order is ready. It also reminds you that it’s there when it talks to you.

Patio seating.

Patio seating.

In the meantime, collect your drinks and pick a spot from which to enjoy the view. We sat outside on the patio, which is “screened” with side by side garage doors, most of which were up to give the best access to the scenic view of the Gulf, while the ends remained closed as a wind break. It was a rather chilly day.

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Scenic view of the gulf.

Perusing the menu made decisions difficult. There are numerous burgers at the top of the list, but further down there are some German offerings that were very tempting. Burgers and German food! Can it get any better?

The burger patties are hand formed and not over spiced, though the patties seem a little thin on the bun. The buns are soft and hold up to the juiciness of the condiments and fresh veggies. All meat is cooked through, with no choice that we are aware of.

The sauerkraut is made in house, as we suspect, are the pickle spears that come with some of the sandwiches. There is a hint of sweetness to the mellow kraut, with none of the harsh bite or saltiness many of us are familiar with.

Sides are available in full or half orders, making it easy to be a pig, or to try more than one side without over stuffing yourself.

Condiments are available, though the only things on the tables are napkin dispensers, salt and pepper. Ketchup, mustard, and other items are self-serve from a unit int he main dining area.

DSC_0473Galvez Burger – guacamole, shredded cheddar and mayo, hold the pico de gallo on this one. Guacamole is not just mashed avocado. There’s a bit of spice and diced tomato added, among other things.

DSC_0472 German Potatoes

 

Bratkartoffel (German fried potatoes) are skillet fried to a crisp with onion and bacon. This stuff is potato crack!

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Michael Burger – 1/3 pound beef with lettuce tomato, lots of pickles, mayo and mustard. We opted for no onion and added cheese.

 

 

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Reuben – sliced corned beef with house made sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing on grilled rye. Not greasy. The kraut is very mild and slightly sweet. Served with a dill pickle spear that tasted of the same spices used in the kraut. Very tasty.

 

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Beer Batter Onion Rings – lots of crunch! Real onion battered and deep fried.

 

 

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Before you leave, bussing your own tables is appreciated.

On the 1-5 scale, Cafe Michael Burger gets:
Cleanliness – 5
Service – 5
Quality of food – 4.5
Flavor – 4.5
Pricing – 4
Overall experience – 4.6

DSC_0464Cafe Michael Burger
11150 Termini-San Luis Pass Rd.
Galveston, TX 77554
(409) 740-3639

— Ann Cathey