Search for the Best Burger Joint in Austin: Old School Bar and Grill

Old School Bar and Grill Austin

Old School Bar and Grill at 6th Street and Trinity in Austin

If 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.

Remember, I’m looking at not only the burgers, but the experience as a whole.

You’ll always get an honest take on the burger joints that I’ve visited. I’m not on any burger joint’s payroll.

After you’ve read my review, agree or disagree I’d love to hear  your thoughts.

First Impression of Old School Bar and Grill

Located on the southeast corner of 6th Street and Trinity (specifically at 401 E. 6th Street), you’ll find the Old School Bar and Grill. This spot was recommended by one of our Austinot readers as a possible candidate for the best burger joint in Austin.

This place has some history, and there are two things that really stand out and deserve mention.

Old School Bar and Grill Logo

First of all, you should know that when you visit this place, you are eating inside a City of Austin officially designated historical landmark. The building itself was built by a merchant named Charles Wolf back in 1874, and that in and of itself is pretty cool.

Old School Bar and Grill Austin Interior

Mobile-style record art

Secondly, take a look at the eastern interior wall of the place. The owners of the Old School Bar and Grill managed to salvage a piece of music history and incorporate it into the very framework of the place. Get this, the dance floor from the world famous Armadillo Headquarters – where acts like ZZ Top, Willie Nelson and Janis Joplin frequented the stage – was fabricated into the eastern wall of the Old School Bar and Grill. A nice piece of history that  you can miss if you don’t know it’s there.

Also worth mentioning, there are vinyl records that hang from the ceiling in the form of mobile-style art, and several pieces of music-inspired artwork line the walls. The bar itself is an old wooden bar and worth a gander for those who can appreciate the work that goes into a centerpiece of this caliber.

Enjoying the ambiance, I took my seat at Old School Bar and Grill and placed my order.

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

Burger Joint Review: Old School Bar and Grill Austin

Old School Bar and Grill Bacon Cheeseburger Austin

Old School Bar and Grill Bacon Cheeseburger

  1. Burger Patties = 5. 1/2 lb patties. They had a really nice girth and were extremely tender, but only 4 out of 6 burgers were cooked correctly upon arrival. The medium well requests were fine, but the medium rare requests all came out medium. The burgers were also far too over seasoned. They were extremely peppery to the point where you could see the black pepper on the patties themselves. Everyone at my table was in mutual agreement on this issue. Two in our group thought the patties were too salty as well. One of the guys described the saltiness as, “lip puckering.”
  2. Bun = 6. The bun was substantial enough to hold the burger together and didn’t fall apart during the meal. It was buttered and toasted, but wasn’t especially flavorful.
  3. Cheese = 5. Just average, didn’t really have that significant pungent and delicious taste that you would expect. Perhaps the over seasoning of the patty masked the goodness of the cheese. For us, it was agreed that the cheese was an unremarkable addition to the burger.
  4. Messiness = 7. Decent level of mess with the Old School Bar and Grill burger. Dripping off the wrist kind of messy is definitely a plus in my book, for an above average mark here.
  5. Garnish = 8. The bacon was thick,  quite crisp and flavorful. The burger held two ample, medium thick slices of firm, but ripe, tomatoes and a leaf of fresh romaine lettuce, along with a tangy pickle spear.
  6. Taste = 5. I really debated giving a mark of 6 here, only because of the high quality garnish. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Truthfully, the patty was so strongly seasoned that it really dominated the entire meal. At one point, our table was wondering if Old School had an in-house pepper mill that perhaps they were hiding in the attic.
  7. Fries = 3. Not impressed. Fries are extra. As of this writing, they cost $2.49 extra and they went through the same in-house pepper mill that the patties went through. I didn’t finish my order and offered my fries to others at my table. Some tried a few, no one went back for more.
  8. Atmosphere = 8. As mentioned earlier, this place itself is an historical landmark on the world famous 6th Street, and that should count for something. Add to that the owners had the wherewithal to salvage a piece of music history and incorporate it into the decor itself. Definitely a thumbs up. The floor is black and white checkerboard and the vibe is pretty cool. In addition, there were music themed pieces of art by artist Tom Runkle on the walls which were interesting. This Atmosphere mark should have been higher, but there seemed to be something lacking about the consistency of the theme of the place. Sort of a combination of the 60’s and the 90’s and who knows what happened in between. But with the work that the owners have done, it’s hard to drop them to less than a 8 in this category. You have to appreciate their effort to preserve history.
  9. Cleanliness = 8. Very clean for a 6th Street bar with a black and white floor that is prone to show every flaw. Tables were clean, and chairs as well. A few small discrepancies of tables that weren’t bussed in a timely manner and a restroom that could have used a wipe down. But all in all: really clean for the location.
  10. Other Factors = 4. Tiny booths. No booths for a larger party, though a smattering of tables were available. We had to take one of the tables and push it up against our little booth just to fit our small group of 6. Old School got my order wrong and forgot to add cheese to my burger. They then had to take it back to the kitchen to be fixed. By the time I got my burger back, it had definitely cooled off, and the cheese didn’t even have time to mix with the patty. Parking is horrendous in that area as well.
The interior of the Old School Bar and Grill in Austin Texas

Empty space left after we moved a table to fit 6 in our party

Bottom Line on Old School Bar and Grill Austin: 5.9 out of 10

Old_School_Bar_and_Grill_Burger

Overall Score = 5.9. The overall score is the average of the 10 categories.

I’m sure that the Old School Bar and Grill faithful are going to disagree with me on this review. I’m good with that; I’d love to hear your comments.

Maybe I was there on an “off” night. Maybe the cook on our batch of burgers thought he hadn’t seasoned the patties and the fries and ended up seasoning them both twice. Who knows. It was what it was, and it wasn’t cheap: $20.00 for a burger, fries and a non-alcoholic drink.

Having said that, the ambiance, and location were very cool. I enjoyed the art, music selection and the old bar itself. The dance floor wall was very special. And though they got my order wrong, the waitstaff was friendly and fast.

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

#3 – score 7.6 – Phil’s Icehouse

#4 – score 7.2 – Casino El Camino

#5 – score 7.1 – Crown & Anchor Pub

#6 – score 7.05 – Dirty Martin’s Place

#7 – score 7.0 – Billy’s on Burnet

#7 – score 7.0 – Moonie’s Burger House

#8 – score 6.9 – Mighty Fine Burgers

#9 – score 6.7 – Wholly Cow Burgers

#10 – score 6.4 – Nau’s Enfield Drug

#11 – score 5.9 – Old School Bar and Grill

Other places that have been suggested to review: The Loop on Palmer, Cover 3, Burger Tex 2 on Guadalupe, Flat Top, Counter Cafe, Austin Java, Hopdoddy, 24 Diner, Fran’s/Dan’s, Hideout Pub, Dart Bowl, Hat Creek, Hill’s, Opel Divine’s, Collie’s, III Forks, Roaring Fork, Lambert’s, Black Sheep Lodge, Foreign and Domestic, Hoovers, Cow Bells, Luke’s Inside Out, 2nd Bar and Grill, Hula Hut, Cain and Ables, Blue Star Cafeteria, Yume Burger, South Congress Cage, Jack Allen’s, Parkside, Hut’s, Sputnik and Spec’s on William Cannon.

 

@EricHighland asks:

I’d love to hear what you have to say. Do you agree or disagree with me on Old School Bar and Grill?  Do you know of any places that I need to add to my list?

***

We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter 2 times a month. It’s where we give you a recap of our best articles and where we give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!

  • http://twitter.com/lifebypixels Mark Heaps

    Snack Bar on SoCo has a pretty legit burger. I also recently fell in love with Hill Cafe, an Austin landmark, in South Austin. I’ve yet to try the burger, but I recently had their Sizzler steak, and if that is anything to base it on…damn!

    • Austinot

      Great tip @twitter-159524791:disqus I’ll add Snack Bar to my list. Hill I think is already on it. Appreciate the heads up. Thanks for checking out the Austinot. ~ Eric

  • Tyler

    I agree about the fries, but I rather liked their burgers. I mentioned I like lots of seasoning, though. Diff’rent strokes, etc.

    • Austinot

      @4d578931654d8acaba37df38e6c759ad:disqus I think you were in the minority though on the seasoning would you agree? It seemed to me like the other 5 at our table all felt it was way too over-seasoned. Though I’m glad you liked it.

  • http://twitter.com/dawgist dawgist

    Interesting…I had read somewhere that their burgers were really good. It drives me nuts when they a professional cook can’t get the food cooked at the correct temp. My current favorite burger (in Austin, anyway) is at Hopdoddy, the “primetime.” I’m surprised you haven’t been there yet. It’s my reluctant favorite because the place is pretty corporate.

    BTW, you can take Yume off your list – they went out of business.

    • Austinot

      @twitter-190417475:disqus thanks for letting me know about Yume, sorry to hear they went out of business. Hopdoddy is on the list, everyone has been asking me to review them. I’m going to try some of the others first, not too big on the corporate thing, but I’m sure you can tell. Anyhow have you tried a burger at the Tavern? So far, my fave. ~ Eric

  • cowboyjoe

    also consider trying burgers @ Aussie’s,Texas Chili Parlor Shoal Creek Saloon and Top Notch

    • Austinot

      Thanks for the tips on those four joints. I’ll try and get them added to the list. Appreciate it!

  • Wink

    Just a little nostalgia – worked in this building for quite some time during my college days (and then some) under a different name and owners. They were the ones who built the beautiful bar and brought in the skating rink floor from the place just in front of Armadillo World Headquarters (see photo on wikipedia under Armadillo World HQ.) I don’t like the look of the checker board floor, but then again, I may be a bit biased.