Bring up the best burger in town, and every Houstonian will have an opinion. For sure there are lots of great burger places in Houston, but I’m going to find the best paleo burger in town this summer, so look out for my reviews of burger joints all summer.
A burger with side of nostalgia
I kicked off my search with a relative newcomer—Grafitti’s on Union Street. The unassuming brick building located just off Washington Ave. near downtown has been the home of Grafitti’s since 2015. Inside Grafitti’s has a 1950’s-60’s diner theme. The art features several cool murals of the space program, Howard Hughes, the Astrodome and loads of vintage signs, etc. Of course the soundtrack was pumping out lots of 60’s garage rock to set the mood. I expected, Arthur Fonzarelli, AKA The Fonz, to pop out at any moment.
Grafitti’s menu is more extensive than that of the average burger joint. Their platters feature pork chops, grilled rib eye, chicken fried steak and the like. They also have a some interesting salads to choose from, but I was on a mission to find the best burger in Houston. Grafitti’s has eight great burgers to choose from. From The Duece, their house burger—nothing fancy, just mixed greens, tomato, onion, pickles, and mustard. To the Duesenberg featuring a battered and fried patty with pickles, onion strings, blue cheese crumbles, tomatoes and horseradish. Their most intriguing burger is the Imperial. It is topped with a half pound of short rib and brisket grind, mac and cheese, fried egg, crispy onion strings, roasted poblano, bacon chunks, and smoked mayo. As fun as it sounds, since half of those toppings aren’t on the paleo diet, I opted for the 409er. It is topped with smoked cheddar, mixed greens, tomatoes, pickles, grilled onions, crispy bacon chunks, and dijon mustard. I ordered mine without the bun, and they offered to wrap it in lettuce, a good sign they have other paleo patrons. Fries are the standard side, but they were happy to switch out for their coleslaw. My son was with me, and he went big ordering the Imperial burger.
Grafitti’s burgers are, as Donald Trump might say, heeuuuuge. The menu doesn’t state how big the patty’s are, but they looked to me to be half-pounders. As promised, mine came wrapped in a big piece of lettuce, but one look at the juicy burger, and I knew there was no way the lettuce was going to hold up. I had my doubts that the bun on my son’s Imperial burger would live to see the last bite, and my hunch proved to be correct. Grafitti’s cooks their burgers medium well, and use only 100% Angus beef. My 409er was excellent. The meat tasted great. I asked our server what they marinated the meat in, but he wouldn’t give up the secret. He just said their meat is all fresh, never frozen, and hand formed in the restaurant with love. I really loved the thickness of the patties. They are over an inch thick, which allows them to put a nice sear on the outside, yet ensure the middle part of the burger is still juicy and pink. All of the veggies on the burger were fresh and tasty, and the smoked cheddar was very good. The smokey flavor of the cheese and the flame grilled burger complimented the sharpness of the cheese perfectly. Another great ingredient was the “crispy bacon chunks.” I wasn’t sure what to make of the description, but they are exactly what is described. Instead of strips of bacon, Grafitti’s takes more of a bacon bit approach, but they use supper thick cut bacon, so the bits are more like chunks of deliciousness.
Instead of fries I paired my burger with coleslaw. Grafitti’s coleslaw is some of the best that I have had. I’m not a big fan of coleslaw that is drenched in mayo, and Grafitti’s slaw is really crisp, and they add pickled jalapeños. So why is cole slaw so much better of a choice than french fries you may ask? Fries, as delicious as they are, have about 48 grams of carbs per serving, and most Houston restaurants probably give you about three servings, Grafitti’s being no exception. They really piled the fries up on my son’s plate. Cole slaw’s main ingredient is raw cabbage. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, in the same category as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Cruciferous vegetables are renowned for their ability to protect against cancer.
According to healthguidance.org “Experts recommend that you eat a minimum of one and a half cups of cruciferous vegetables two to three times a week in order to reap the greatest benefits from this cancer fighter. Cabbage, in particular, is an excellent source of a compound called sinigrin, which is particularly effective in helping to prevent cancer of the colon, prostate and bladder.” I’ve heard lots of reports about cancer fighting foods, so I’m alway a bit skeptical about them, but I do know cabbage doesn’t spike my blood sugar like potatoes do. When I first went paleo, I had a very hard time passing fries up, but I hardly miss them any more. Speaking of passing them up, I did have a couple of my son’s fries, and they were very good. I also had a bite of the short rib and brisket grind that was a topping on his Imperial Burger, and it was wickedly good, even if the sauce was a bit sweet for my taste. He claims it was the best burger he has ever had. I think the mac and cheese kicked it over top for him.
Grafitti’s burger is in the lead for my best paleo burger in Houston. Of course, it’s the first one I’ve tried officially, but don’t hold that against it. The quality of the meat was excellent, and since I’m going bunless, the meat is going to play a big part in my decision, and Grafitti’s patty is very high on the tast-o-meter. Side dishes will also play a big part, and Grafitti’s slaw is excellent.
If you are looking for a great burger, that will satisfy the paleo and non-paleo eaters in your group, and want to eat in a restaurant with a cool atmosphere, give Grafitti’s a try. You won’t regret it.