Three story sign....the secret's out at our fave south burger joint
A little while back the Three Amigos were going to grab an early Thursday night bite and we wanted it to happen south, without having to suffer any traffic abuse; it’s absolute hell getting north anytime between 2:30 and 7:30 pm. We rendezvoused and were going to hit up Royal India in Sunset Valley, since none of us had eaten there, but when we pulled up in front at 5:10 the joint was deserted. Turns out they open at 5:30 and it was sunny and hot as hell, so we decided to bounce. Heading west on the frontage road, Spec’s was the next turn heading north, so burgers it was.
Note the guacamole oozing at the bottom
Spec’s is the spot for fantastic burgers and sandwiches that nobody seems to know about, and wouldn’t you know it, we get there and they have a 3 story-tall sign on the front talking about how they make great burgers and what a secret it seems to be. Thankfully for us, not them, the place wasn’t crowded and we were able to saunter up to the counter and order at-will. Our buddy A went with the guacamole-Monterrey Jack unit, while chum S went for the bacon-grilled onion-cheddar burger. I am always a sucker for the bleu cheese-bacon burger, but at that second S’s choice sounded dynamite, so I seconded his selection; it may be my new favorite.
Thick cheddar and bacon....yummmm
We decided to each get a different side and share: fries, onion rings, and tater tots. Any spot that has tots on their menu always gets preference from me; I LOVES me some tots, especially dipped into some yellow mustard. One of their incredible Reuben sandwiches on the side and a round of North Carolina’s tart and bubbly 1917 original cane-sugar cherry soda, Cheerwine, and we were good to go. By the way, go to North Carolina and they pronounce it KNORR-kahlina and not GNAW-ER-kahlina.
Cheerwine, Norcalina's tart and bubbly real sugar cherry soda
TOTS!...need I say more?
Another advantage of the interior location is that the cheese section is right next to the seating area, so hors d’oeuvres of cheese samples are yours for the taking; there are always a couple offered. Our name gets called and we procure the baskets and settle in for some serious chow-down. The burgers are flame-grilled, smoky, moist, and made from high-quality meat. All of the components are first-rate: the cheddar is aged and rich, the bacon thick-sliced and apple-smoked, the tomatoes red and ripe. As a lagniappe in your basket you get a spear of a snappy, garlicky dill pickle. The fries, rings, and tots are all frozen, but of a premium brand and delivered hot, golden-brown, and crisp (and in mass quantity). The Reuben is one of the better versions in town, but we were so full I had to almost choke down my part of it (well, actually more than my part). Since the place is a deli, the tabletop condiment selection is off the charts; we used an old school label of Caribbean habanero sauce whose name escapes now, but you’d never find that on any other table in Austin.
Next time you think sandwich or burger down south (or midtown, at the Spec’s on MOPAC, just north of Research), you can’t do much better than Spec’s, especially when you consider the portion, quality, and price. Their secret is getting out.
Mick Vann ©