Search for the Best Burger Joint in Austin: Phil’s Icehouse

Sign for Phil's Icehouse on Burnet in AustinIf you’ve been looking for the best burgers in Austin, you’ve come to the right place. This post is part of a series on The Austinot.

All the posts in this series start with “Search for the Best Burger Joint in Austin” in the title. Remember, I’m looking at not only the burgers, but the experience itself.

You’ll always get an honest take on the burger joints that I’ve visited. I’m not on any burger joint’s payroll. Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

First Impression of Phil’s Icehouse Austin

Burgers, shakes, ice cream, playscape, beer…what’s not to love?

Phil’s Icehouse has two locations in Austin. One on Burnet and one on Lamar. For this review, I visited the Burnet location, which is co-located with Amy’s Ice Cream and the HQ for Amy’s. (We recently did a podcast episode on the Top 4 Cool Treats in Austin that featured Amy’s Ice Cream.)

When you pair Phil’s and Amy’s together, it’s tough to go wrong. Every Austinite loves supporting local businesses, and sometimes will go out of the way to do so. But when both joints are superb and located together, Austinites come out in droves.

The day of my review was no different. The parking lot was packed, but hungry families didn’t give up. They parked on the adjacent Northland Dr. or in the shopping center across the street before making their way over to Phil’s/Amy’s.

Playground at Phil's Icehouse and Amy's Ice Cream on Burnet

As you approach the building on Burnet, you’ll no doubt have children running underfoot. There is a large playscape outside with plenty of semi-shaded seating for parents to sit and enjoy some adult time, while the kids do their thing.

Phil’s Icehouse is on the south side of the dynamic dining duo. As you enter, you’ll quickly notice the bustle of activity behind the counter and in the kitchen. The staff is friendly and they aim to please.

Friendly Service at Phil's Icehouse on Burnet

The menu is posted right on the wall, and the line moves fairly quickly. I went with the Brentwood Burger, minus onions. Step up and place your own order. You won’t be sorry, though you may need to wait for a bit to get your burger.

Austinot Eric’s Burger Review Criteria

If you’ve read my other articles in this series, you’ll know that I rate burger joints using a 1-10 scale, with 5 being Average. (Don’t be a hater. If I rate you a 5, that means you were average.)

Roughly speaking, a score of 1 translates to “worst ever,” while 10 translates to “God handcrafted this himself.” Remember, you are free to disagree with me. This is just my honest take.

When reviewing a burger joint, these are my categories:

  1. Burger Patties
  2. Bun
  3. Cheese
  4. Messiness
  5. Garnish
  6. Burger Taste
  7. Fries
  8. Atmosphere
  9. Cleanliness
  10. Other Factors

Phil’s Icehouse Burger Joint Review

Brentwood Burger at Phil's Icehouse

  1. Burger Patties = 7. Thin, but flavorful 1/3 pound, all-beef patties. Well-seasoned.
  2. Bun = 9. Brittany said this was her favorite bun that we’ve had on our journey. I still think The Tavern’s buns are the best I’ve had. Regardless, the buns at Phil’s Icehouse are sizable sourdough buns that leave little to be desired.
  3. Cheese = 8. Ample real cheese that melted over the sides of the burger. The right amount for the size of the burger.
  4. Messiness = 8. Messy enough to know you are getting your money’s worth. Several napkins perished for the greater good for this review.
  5. Garnish = 7. Phil’s would have had higher marks (possibly a 9, definitely an 8) if it weren’t for the tomatoes. The tomatoes were sliced really thinly and there were just two small slices on the burger. The iceberg lettuce was crisp, cold and plentiful. The bacon was excellent, abundant and crisp.
  6. Taste = 8.  Again, Brit thought that this was her favorite burger that we’ve had in Austin so far. There is no question that the taste of this burger is excellent. We both enjoyed our meal. I can’t say that it was the best, but it definitely ranked highly among the burgers we’ve had thus far.
  7. Fries = 8. The burgers come with 1/2 traditional fries and 1/2 sweet potato fries. Or you can get all of one or the other, though I think all sweet potato has an upcharge. I went with all traditional fries for consistency within my reviews. They were really good and salted just right.
  8. Atmosphere = 7. Phil’s Icehouse is inside a former garage; it’s a fun place. Because of the number of kids and the echo in the joint it can get pretty loud. There are tons of neighborhood locals, families, grandparents and little ones about.
  9. Cleanliness = 6. The place was clean, but there were some tables that needed wiping down and a few food items that had found their way to the floor. Other than that, Phil’s was a little bit above average in cleanliness. This mark would have been a 5, but I’m giving consideration because of the amount of toddlers that were dropping food on the floor. The staff was active though, and toward the end of my meal they wiped down the tables (though the items on the floor remained ignored).
  10. Other Factors = 8. Brit was jealous of the strawberry shake I ordered. We were convinced to order it by Corbin, a young man who works at Phil’s on Burnet. Corbin claimed to be the second best shake maker at Phil’s. Well, I’d be hard pressed to see how someone could improve on his skills. The shake was fantastic! This mark would have been a 9, but they actually got Brittany’s order wrong. However, they fixed it incredibly quickly and all in all it was a great outing.
Strawberry Milkshake at Phil's Icehouse in Austin

Bottom Line on Phil’s Icehouse in Austin: 7.6 out of 10

Overall Score = 7.6. The overall score is the average of the 10 categories.

Phil’s Icehouse was named after a friend of Amy Simmons (of Amy’s Ice Cream) who was one of her scoopers. Sadly, he passed away, but his legacy lives on through great burgers, great service and lots of smiles.

Parking can be tight, there will be a lot of kids around, and you may need to wait a little bit for your food. But sit back, grab a cold one, or a shake. Let the kids play on the playscape, enjoy the shaded patio and relax at this Austin icon.

I highly recommend you try out Phil’s Icehouse for yourself. If you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And so my…

Search for the Best Burger Joint in Austin Continues

So far, of burger joints in Austin reviewed on the Austinot, here is the scorecard:

#1 – score 8.1 – The Tavern

#2 – score 8.0 – Your Mom’s Burger Bar (Tied for 2nd so far) CLOSED see below.

#2 – score 8.0 – Opal Divine’s Freehouse (Tied for 2nd so far) 6th Street location CLOSED see below.

#3 – score 7.64 – P. Terry’s

#4 – score 7.6 – Phil’s Icehouse

#5 – score 7.2 – Casino El Camino

#6 – score 7.1 – Crown & Anchor Pub

#7 – score 7.05 – Dirty Martin’s Place

#8 – score 7.0 – Billy’s on Burnet (Tied for 8th so far)

#8 – score 7.0 – Moonie’s Burger House (Tied for 8th so far)

#9 – score 6.9 – Mighty Fine Burgers

#10 – score 6.7 – Wholly Cow Burgers

#11 – score 6.4 – Nau’s Enfield Drug

#12 – score 5.9 – Old School Bar and Grill

#13 – score 4.8 – Cover 3

Burger joints that have shut down since they were reviewed:

1. Opal Divine’s (The 6th street location is closed but they have other locations so give them a try.)

2. Your Mom’s Burger Bar (The owners decided to buy an RV and see the country. But they did write a farewell letter to Austin. We’ll miss you Your Mom’s!)

Other places that have been suggested to review: 

  1. 2nd Bar + Kitchen
  2. 24 Diner
  3. Austin Land and Cattle
  4. Austin Java
  5. Black Sheep Lodge
  6. Blue Star Cafeteria
  7. Burger Tex 2 on Guadalupe
  8. Cain and Abel’s
  9. Counter Cafe
  10. Cow Bells
  11. Dan’s Hamburgers
  12. Dart Bowl
  13. Foreign and Domestic
  14. Fran’s Hamburgers
  15. Hat Creek
  16. Hill’s Cafe
  17. Hideout Pub
  18. Hoover’s Cooking
  19. Hopdoddy
  20. Hula Hut
  21. Hut’s Hamburgers
  22. Jack Allen’s Kitchen
  23. Jackalope
  24. Lambert
  25. Luke’s Inside Out
  26. Parkside
  27. Ski Shores
  28. South Congress Cafe
  29. Sputnik
  30. Top Notch

Got one you’d like added to the list? Comment and let us know! (Only suggestions of burger joints founded in Austin will be added.)


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@EricHighland asks:

I’d love to hear what you have to say. Do you agree or disagree with me on Phil’s Icehouse?  Do you know of any places that I need to add to my list?

Phil's Icehouse on Urbanspoon

  • koderken

    Hard for me to believe that Phil’s topped Mighty Fine Burgers. But you do have standardized scoring criteria, so I can just surmise that you caught Mighty Fine on a less than stellar day.

    • Austinot

      @74b3ea83e007602916f69d21ed945b94:disqus perhaps, but maybe not. So the story with Mighty Fine which you can find here:

      Is this: The burger patties were excellent they got a 9. The taste was superb as well, they got an 8. So in all fairness, I rated them higher on patties and equal on taste. But remember I’m rating burger joints, not just the burger itself. Having said that, there is just something too Five Guys’ish about Mighty Fine that doesn’t have the local love and flavor of Phil’s. Does that make sense?

  • A. Eli Cohen

    Please add Austin Java to the potential review list. Their burgers are awesome and the Monday night special is 2 for 1 after 4 PM!

    • Austinot

      Conisder it done. @twitter-162764468:disqus the list is long, but we’ll get them added up. I actually spend a lot of time at Austin Java on Barton Springs.

  • JimNtexas

    I had a pretty darn good burger at ‘The Loop’,Palmer & 183, in the same center as Fry’s and Opel Devine. IIRC this space used to hold a Chinese Buffet.

    The Loop has lots of permutations and combinations of burger options, and they give you a handy form to create an exact specification.

    I liked that they also give you real table service, cloth napkins, metal flatware. They have a full bar if you are so inclined.

    I see no need to be herded through Mighty Fine when I can get a better burger for about the same price and be treated like an individual.

    I have no connection with ‘The Loop’ other than as a customer.

    • Austinot

      Wow, great tip @JimNtexas:disqus consider “The Loop” added to my list. Appreciate the heads up.

  • Meenal

    Phil’s is my absolute FAVE!!!!!!!!

    • Austinot

      It was pretty excellent @144eb4621eebc5d7e3ccbb30c770413e:disqus thanks for taking the time to comment. Have you been to the Tavern yet? Their burgers top the list so far. Also check out the burgers at Andice General Store if you are ever in the area. We did a post on them.. pretty good stuff.

  • slavetofashion

    I’m gonna have to go get a burger now -your reviews make me hungry! I haven’t been to Phil’s in years, but I definitely need to go back. I say move HopDoddy up the list- they are sooooo good :)

    • Austinot

      I keep hearing this about HopDoddy… hmmm.. maybe I will have to move it up on the list. Thanks for the tip @slavetofashion:disqus hope you have a great lunch.. go with the Brentwood if you hit up Phil’s.

  • Karen

    This might be weird, but the Spec’s store on William Cannon/MoPac boasts Austin’s best burger and I have to say, for 4 people to eat burgers and fries for under $20, it was a darn good burger and it is in an interesting location.

    Also, I think you should have definitely used price as one of your criteria. I mean, bang for your buck is important.

    • Austinot

      @c948690a5ac8c134f5faae16f2bbd820:disqus thank you for the comment. Yes, price is important. Probably should have been one of the criteria. It’s too late to add it now… well maybe not. Let me give that some thought. Also thanks for the tip! Who would hav thought. I’ll add Spec’s to my list. Thanks for hanging out with us here!

  • John Dawson

    I appreciate the methodology here, but come on now! Nothing against the others here but I’ve been to them all and none of them touch Casino. Hands down best burger, jukebox, and dive bar (and dive bar staff- Wendy Waad AND Mr Lifto AND Frap are bartenders for jeez sakes) in Austin. I have had friends literally visit Austin again and buy plane tickets JUST to get another buffalo blue burger. And byw My opinion is not debatable (lol ; )

    • Austinot

      Hey @facebook-100003130195050:disqus we knew we’d catch some flak from the faithful. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with my review. Hey one man’s opinion is as good as the next. I really enjoyed the Casino burger and obviously the place has character. Good on you for a dissenting opinion though, appreciate the honesty!

      • Andrew F

        I have also been to Casino al Caminos and while they do serve good burgers. Hopdaddys has the best burgers in Austin IMO.

        • Eric Highland

          @disqus_f20Bh5QwKw:disqus Hopdoddy’s is definitely on the list. Thanks for the comment. Have you tried the burgers at the Tavern yet? So far my number 1 best burger in Austin.

  • Charlie

    Early in December I was at a webcomic event at the Dragon’s Lair north of this place. Phil’s was recommended to me and I went there. I had an excellent burger. I will go back the next time I am near them.

    • Austinot

      There are so many great spots. Phil’s is excellent. Hope you check out the rest of the list too during your adventures.

  • Kenneth Bloomer

    Too many young children, icy cold undercooked hot dogs. Don’t think I’ll be going back to Phil’s anytime soon.

    • Austinot

      What is your favorite burger joint in Austin @kennethbloomer:disqus?