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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Fast Food Leftover Madness

Ever wonder what to do with those fast food leftovers in your fridge? Maybe you ordered more than you really wanted, or the kids didn’t polish off all their fries. If it’s substantial enough to warrant tossing in the fridge, it’s plenty to fix for a meal or side for the next day.

Note that wherever “french fries” are mentioned, this could be regular french fries, seasoned curly fries, waffle fries, or even steak fries. They all work wonderfully in your leftover madness.

FRIED CHICKEN SALAD
Cold fried chicken, de-boned and diced make a wonderful chicken salad for sandwiches or wraps with your favorite ingredients. Mayo, brown mustard, chopped onion and peppers are one variation. Another is mayo, yellow curry and purple seedless grapes served up in a pita half!

FRIED CHICKEN TACOS
Strip that chicken off the bone, toss it with garlic and chili powder in a skillet with a spritz of olive oil, then fill your tacos with chicken, cheese and whatever else you may desire.

HASH-BROWN FRENCH FRIES
Take those cold french fries out of the fridge and dice them. Give a skillet a spritz of olive oil and heat some diced garlic. Toss in those fry bits and treat them like hash-brown potatoes. They will cook up to whatever consistence you desire, from soft to slightly crunchy.

Crack and egg into the middle and serve it sunny side up in a ring of hash-brown fries.

CHILI CHEESE CHICKEN NUGGETS/STRIPS
Got some chicken nuggets or strips left over? Arrange them on a dish and heat in the microwave. Smother them in hot chili and your choice of cheese and enjoy.

Garnish with a bit of sour cream and sliced black olives for some complementary flavors and textures.

CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
De-boned fried chicken makes a great filling for enchiladas. Wrap the chicken and some cheese into tortillas, cover in enchilada sauce, heat and serve with fresh guacamole and sour cream.

HUNTSMAN’S BREAKFAST
Start a skillet with a spritz of olive oil and some diced garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is just beginning to soften. Add in a meat, like diced sausage or chicken strips, and cook until hot. Dice the leftover french fries and add the to the skillet, stir this mixture fairly often to keep it from sticking. Whisk up an appropriate number of eggs for the contents of the skillet, adding your spices of choice. Add this to the skillet and cook until the eggs are done.

You might serve this up on a plate with a few dashes of hot sauce, or in tortillas with cheese as breakfast tacos. Either way, it’s a quick and simple breakfast plan.

MORE DICED DELIGHTS
Diced french fries, and other leftover potatoes, with or without onions also make filling additions to stews, bean pots, and even home-made chili. Diced onion rings are great in chili and in hashbrowns.

We’ve actually bought chicken nuggets from the Golden Arches specifically to take home and smother in chili and cheese for supper. It wasn’t the healthiest meal we have ever enjoyed, but it was so tasty we didn’t mind.

— Ann Cathey

In-N-Out Burger – Austin, Texas

I’ve heard a lot of hype about In-N-Out Burger from various friends and reviews. It is not a franchised chain, but a privately owned and operated one. Does this make a difference? I don’t think so.

DSC_0726In-N-Out started back in 1948 in California, a fact they are extremely proud of. They have manages to keep prices pretty low, and the menu pretty skimpy, but it seems to be working. We lucked onto a location in Austin, Texas, that had just opened a week or so before. To say it was packed is an understatement. The drive-through was more than 30 cars long with orange comes keeping them in order while they waited to place an order. Inside was even more crowded. The line to order was split into three, and each one was a minimum of 8 people deep. The rest of each party were haunting the indoor and outdoor  dining areas looking for seating. Some of them gave up and started picnicking on the grass, at the large planter boxes holding trees along the sidewalk, and tailgating on pickup trucks in the parking area.

The patrons came in all flavors! We saw your typical range of hippies to well-to-do folks, Longhorns fans, Japanese fashion plates, families, old, young, walking, biking, driving, with at least six different states represented in the parking lot other than Texas. There were kids everywhere, in spite of there being no children’s menu options.

You would think the crowd would be an indicator that the food was just that good. We had high hopes. While my partner stood in line to order, I hunted up a table. I was lucky enough to find a table for four that the current occupants were willing to share. We later did the same for another couple.

The restaurant itself is very light, bright and white with accents of red and yellow. The noise of so many people was definitely noticeable, but not obtrusive. Bathrooms were relatively clean and neat for such heavy usage. It should be noted that no smoking is allowed – neither regular or e-cigs, and they will prosecute.

The menu is very limited: french fries, drinks, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and the “Double Double” cheeseburger. Lettuce, tomato, and “spread” come with any burger; onions upon request. While the veggies are very fresh and hand torn/cut, there are no other options – no pickles, no avocado, just the basics. The “spread” is… well, I won’t blow the surprise, but it’s easily recognizable.

The entire other half of the menu lists drink options from the soda fountain, tea and sweet tea, and lemonade. There are shakes, though we did not try them during this visit. There is also bottled water for those who prefer it.

There was about a half hour between the time we walked in the door and the time we picked up our order. The crowd made getting drinks and ketchup an adventure. The olfactory and visual appeal was immediate and favorable. The bag smelled of burger and fries before we took anything out.

DSC_0725We ordered double doubles with fries.They were hot and fresh when our to-go bag (rather than the signature red tray) hit our table.

The burger was a nice surprise. The bun was butter grilled and crispy, a nice additional texture to the experience. Veggies were very fresh and colorful. The meat patties were on the thin side and well-done, but had great flavor. The cheese was a good melting cheese, even if it was of an individually wrapped processed cheese food type. In spite of being FDA portion sized, the burger was a very tasty experience.

The burgers were individually wrapped in brown paper, a practice that In-N-Out has used since it opened. If they think this makes them environmentally friendly, they are right but only to a point. The amount of grease that collects in the wrappings makes the paper ineligible for recycling.

The fries… what can you say about fries. They advertise that the fries are cut daily from Kennebec grown potatoes. I’m not sure that helps or hinders. The fries are slender, square cut, and moderately dusted with a salt/pepper combination. The thinness means they go cold quickly. They have a flavor like canned potato strings which was a nice discovery. They would have been vastly improved by the addition of chili and cheese, neither of which was an option.

My table companion was pleasantly impressed with the burger but found the fries to be “uninspired” at the least.

On the 1-5 scale, In-N-Out Burger gets:
Cleanliness – 4 (in spite of the crowd)
Service – 3 (because of the crowd)
Quality of food – 3
Flavor – 3
Pricing – Moderate to Low
Overall experience – 2.5

-Ann Cathey