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 I visit. I’m not on any burger joint’s payroll.
After you’ve read my review, agree or disagree with a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
First Impression of Cover 3
When I published my most recent burger joint review on Opal Divine’s Freehouse location on 6th, a few personal friends told me, “If you liked Opal’s, you are gonna love Cover 3.” Over time, quite a few folks have commented that this spot is a “must” for my burger joint review series. Finally convinced that I needed to pay Cover 3 a visit, I was pretty excited to check this place out.
You’ll find Cover 3 at 2700 West Anderson Lane, across the parking lot from Alamo Drafthouse – Village. On the outside, Cover 3 mixes industrial and modern themes and has a nice covered outdoor patio. On the inside, I found an confusing assortment of conflicting styles. More on that in a moment.
Once through the entrance, a red, neon bar sat in front of me with counter height tables, two large flat-screen televisions and leather chairs. From her station behind the bar, the bartender greeted Brittany and me with a genuine smile. This felt slightly strange because the bar was about 30 feet away, but what new customer doesn’t appreciate a cheerful welcome?
If the bar decor had been kept simple with the counter height tables, leather chairs, red ambient lighting and flat-screens, the interior would’ve felt cohesive. Instead, three seemingly out of place electric guitars were mounted on the wall above the bar, and two hanging wine glass racks featured a bizarre mix of odds and ends, including a football and a bottle of whiskey.
The bar decor wasn’t funky enough to be Austiny hip, and it wasn’t elegant enough to fit in with the rest of the establishment.
Awkward decor combinations didn’t stop at the bar. On either side of the bar were two seating areas, both apportioned with spacious booths, in subdued browns and yellows. Stylish brick walls, solid wooden tables with leather seats and benches, chandelier-style lighting fixtures and a view into the wine room could all be expected from an upscale steakhouse. Right?
But then Cover 3 added more flat-screen televisions as if it were a sports bar, and had a light rock station playing in the background as if we were in an elevator. The decor and mood of the place were simply awkward.
Was Cover 3 trying to be an upscale, chic, trendsetting eatery, a game-day hangout, or a classy wine bar? It didn’t solidly land anywhere.
We arrived just after the lunch rush and there was a bit of trash and food on the floor, which was to be expected. The staff was actively cleaning, so kudos on that.
After the hostess seated us in one of the comfortable circular booths along the wall, our waiter swaggered up.
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 upset 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:
- Burger Patties
- Burger Taste
- Other Factors
Burger Joint Review: Cover 3
- Burger Patties = 7. 1/2 pound chargrilled with a solid girth, pre-formed. Thick, but it lacked any juiciness to speak of.
- Bun = 7. The bun was ciabatta. Soft and an appropriate size for the burger, but it landed on the bland side. It would have received a higher mark had it been oiled or buttered on the inside.
- Cheese = 4. I thought everything was bigger in Texas. Apparently not here. The “Longhorn Cheddar” barely covered half of the burger, so it didn’t add much to the meal.
- Messiness = 3. Not messy in the slightest. Guess that had to do with the fact that there was hardly any cheese on the burger and – believe it or not – there were no condiments outside of salt and pepper that were included. Not even on the side.
- Garnish = 4. Hard to believe that my burger came completely dry. No condiments is just a plain fail. The lettuce was fresh and the tomatoes were perhaps the best part of this burger: they were thick and juicy, with an appealing amount of firmness. The bacon was just okay, nothing to write home about.
- Taste = 4. Overall, the taste was mediocre. I wasn’t impressed. With all of the folks who told me that I had to try the Cover 3 burger out for my series, I was expecting something exceptional. I’m sure some folks will disagree. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts. For me, the cheese was not substantial, the bun was bland (not oiled or buttered), and the patty lacked juiciness. On top of all that, the burger came dry without ketchup, mustard or mayo even on the side. Other than the tomatoes, the garnish didn’t cut it. To be completely uncensored, I left a third of the burger on my plate when I departed, and Brittany had even taken a couple bites out of it too.
- Fries = 6. Just a tad bit thicker than shoestring fries, seasoned with parmesan cheese. They sounded good on the menu, but once again I was not impressed. The fries were cold and the parmesan seasoning lacked flavor. I’m giving an above average mark simply because fries came with the burger, a big plus in my book, and the amount of fries was substantial.
- Atmosphere = 4. Cover 3 has an upscale feel to it. But the soft rock combined with electric guitars, and chic elegance surrounded by flat screen televisions, are combinations too strange for this place. Either be a Hard Rock place, a wine place, a trendy place, or a sports bar…but pick one and stick with it.
- Cleanliness = 5. There was food on the floor, and we found a used straw on the seat of our booth when we sat down. But the staff was actively cleaning for the entire first half of our meal. So average marks here.
- Other Factors = 3. The waitstaff can make or break an establishment. Kudos to the bartender who greeted us with a smile and said goodbye as we left. She was a sweetheart and should be commended. She was also the only staff member that did anything to make our experience enjoyable. Our server was rude, lazy and had an attitude. He had a swagger with every step. He didn’t refill our glasses once during our visit. When I asked for ketchup and mustard for my completely dry burger, he looked at the small tin of ketchup that came with my fries and said with a sneer, “You want more ketchup than that?” Really? When delivering the bill, which was $30 for a burger that I didn’t finish and a macaroni and cheese plate that was far too salty, he just tossed it on the table and kept walking. If I had been a manager and witnessed his treatment of us, I would have fired him on the spot and comped the meal for the guests. But no manager ever stopped by to see how we were. The 3 points here are for the kind bartender, the nice outdoor patio and the overabundance of free parking.
Bottom Line on Cover 3: 4.8 out of 10
Overall Score = 4.8. The overall score is the average of the 10 categories.
I’m not sure what all the hype is about. Brittany ordered the macaroni and cheese which had high reviews online. It came with one layer of macaroni at the bottom of the bowl and was too salty for her to finish. Not impressed, especially for the price.
Other than the kind bartender, nice patio, and ample free parking, this place was a bust. I think it was the only time I’ve ever left a burger unfinished during this series so far. Our waiter was horrendous: no refills during the entire meal, a huge attitude and a swagger that rivaled Jax on Sons of Anarchy.
With a $30 tab for no appetizers, two entrees, water with no refills, and horrible service, I highly recommend you try a different burger joint on my list instead of Cover 3. When you create an upscale ambiance and have upscale prices, the quality of the food and service has to match the upscale motif or you set yourself up for failure.
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:
#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.
#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
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:
- 2nd Bar + Kitchen
- 24 Diner
- Austin Land and Cattle
- Austin Java
- Black Sheep Lodge
- Blue Star Cafeteria
- Burger Tex 2 on Guadalupe
- Cain and Abel’s
- Counter Cafe
- Cow Bells
- Dan’s Hamburgers
- Dart Bowl
- Foreign and Domestic
- Fran’s Hamburgers
- Hat Creek
- Hill’s Cafe
- Hideout Pub
- Hoover’s Cooking
- Hula Hut
- Hut’s Hamburgers
- Jack Allen’s Kitchen
- Luke’s Inside Out
- Ski Shores
- South Congress Cafe
- 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.)
I’d love to hear what you have to say. Do you agree or disagree with me on Cover 3?
Thanks for the insight Eric… I’ll make sure not to waste my time on this place when there are for more juicy burgers to plow through in this city!
@facebook-71904166:disqus most definitely recommend you try my top 2 if you haven’t so far! ~ Eric
Try the Jackalope. You will not be disappointed.
I’ll add Jackalope to the list @9020198dd518778d384bebb96fe8acb7:disqus, Been there once before for a burger, but not for the purposes of a review. I don’t really remember being blown away by it, but I do remember that overall it was a pretty cool experience. I think I was miffed by the wait time for my burger. I’ll add it though and see what happens. ~ Eric
I LOVE the pulled pork sandwich at Jackalope with coleslaw stuff in it. Oh…we’re talking burgers…sorry.
We recently tried Cover 3. While nothing was bad, nothing was great, especially for the price. They are going to have to get a lot more competitive on their happy hour drink prices to bring me back in. $2.00 off of a $12 cocktail? No thanks. Try the smokey goat burger at Red’s Porch, my favorite burger in Austin.
I’ve heard that a lot about Cover 3. Nothing bad, nothing great. Happy hour prices are horrible and as you read, I was not impressed. Thanks for the tip on Red’s Porch though. I’ll have to add it to the list. Appreciate the comment @34d2dac033192cc2f558748948ae18ee:disqus ~ Eric
Huh. Sorry you had a bad experience. Jesse, Trae and I loved it when we went.
I was really shocked and surprised after the boys from the Manburger club recommended it. @4d578931654d8acaba37df38e6c759ad:disqus I can’t believe that you Jesse and Trae raved about it so much. But I guess that just goes to show that even my personal friends don’t impact my reviews. You guys are normally spot on. Were you drinking or drunk when you went? Just starving or do you really think my review is off the mark? ~ Eric
Haha, we were sober and no hungrier than normal. It isn’t a valid excuse on their part, but the only thing I can think of is that since you arrived right after the lunch rush they were slacking off a bit? Also, to be fair, you are generally much more critical of establishments than we are… just sayin’
That’s a shame. I wonder if they’re slipping in quality. Bar service at Cover 3 is always better than table service, for whatever reason. Foodwise, they have always been spot on. I particularly like their turkey rueben, which they have always made custom for me (not the focus of your review, I know). It’s been a while since I’ve been there, though (usually go during football season for a few games).
I can only imagine that the bar service would have been much better. Our waiter was so bad for a moment there I thought we may have been on some sort of Candid Camera or Punked show. Good to know about their Ruben. If we do ever try anything else there we’ll definitely try the bar service next time. Thanks for the tip @facebook-532781767:disqus ~ Eric
I see a lot of good burger places on the list, and frankly (no bun intended) I’m surprised Opal’s ranks at all. It’s absolutely filthy, the food is mediocre and greasy at best and the staff is just ok. I had a burger there, it was
a perfunctoryground meat sandwich with wilted veg and oil slicked cheese. Counter, Hopdoddy, 2nd Bar and grill are galaxies better. The list is cheapened by Opal’s even being on it. But this is, of course, subjective and I respect that. All, IMHO
Your opinion is totally welcome and valid @facebook-790201521:disqus, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. You know, when I go to do a review they get one shot. They don’t know I’m there and whatever happens is what gets reviewed. Sorry you don’t like Opal’s but the day I reviewed them, they were spot on. Looking forward to trying Counter, Hopdoddy and 2nd somewhere in the not-too-distant future. Hopefully they have a better day than Cover 3 did the day I stopped in. ~ Eric
P. Terry’s is solid and gets bonus points for quick drive thrus despite long lines and for serving “clean” meat and local tomatoes. 🙂
@41e6da4e163bb6da6b2f5890d2529f24:disqus, we’re big fans of P. Terry’s, though we haven’t written an article about them yet. Maine Root Beer is always a plus in my book!
I’m surprised that Brit didn’t like the mac & cheese! I love it there!
@twitter-309775519:disqus, I was surprised too! Before ordering, I consulted online reviews. The macaroni and cheese seemed to be the stand-out, so I went for it! At first I enjoyed it, but as Eric mentioned, it turned out to be way too salty for me to finish (and I don’t consider myself overly sensitive to salt). The chicken portion on top was generous and moist, but it didn’t make up for the rest of the dish. I also was disappointed in the portion for the price. Assuming the salt hadn’t bothered me, I would’ve finished it quickly and probably still been hungry. Definitely no leftovers for me. I am open to the possibility that the dish is not always so salty – it’s one of the easier things to mess up – but the experience overall was so disappointing that I don’t think I’ll be going back to try it again. :/
Nail on the head with the atmosphere critique. The funny part is that their radio ads actually market this as a strength! After reading a few of your reviews, I think Jack Allen’s has a lot of what you’re looking for.
@facebook-200005061:disqus will definitely need to hit that one up then. Glad I’m not the only one that saw the off-ness of their atmosphere. ~ Eric
Have you tried out Top Notch? One of the only places that I know that charbroils their burgers instead of doing them on a flat top, I like that taste myself. The Frisco might be one to check out as well, tho it’s been a few years since I had a burger there.
@largomason:disqus, Top Notch is one of our personal favorites. I love their fried chicken, and Eric always gets a burger. We haven’t done a review, but really need to.
I’ve never been to The Frisco before, but I know E isn’t a huge fan.
If there’s one way to make food look horrendous, take a photo of it using on-camera flash.
Actually, the photography on your site as a whole really makes it look amateurish. If you want to be taken seriously you should step up your game and hire a real photographer. Your photography could make the White House dining room with a gourmet meal look like a hot dog in a food court at the mall.
Thanks for offering your opinion, @disqus_sruK0PgCGm:disqus. Appreciate you taking the time to comment. Eric and I started the Austinot as a hobby blog and never expected it to take off the way it has. We’re not journalists, nor do we pretend to be. The Austinot is our labor of love for a community that has embraced our discoveries of Austin. We do the best we can with our photography. Are you a photographer?
LOL you didn’t happen to be our server at Cover 3 by chance? ~ Eric
Cover 3 belongs in a place like Houston or Dallas, but not here in the ATX. Ironically you were right next to Hopdoddy north. Burger Tex, Counter Cafe (closes at 4), and Black Sheep Lodge I would advise to be on the next for reviews.
@twitter-282188191:disqus, haven’t seen you around for a while! How have you been?
True that @twitter-282188191:disqus unfortunately I only have one stomach. All of your suggestions are on my list… definitely going to hit them up.
And there there is Austin (Not Texas) Land and Cattle (on Lamar) .. The most overlooked (expensive – but worth it) burger in town next to Ski Shores Double meat jalapeno cheese burger.. Oh MAN!
BURGERS & SPECIALTIES
½ pound patty old fashioned style with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and pickles on a grilled bun
½ pound patty with roasted green Hatch chiles, red onions and chipotle sauce 9.50/4.75 HH
Sunny side up egg atop a ½ pound patty with crispy ﬁeld greens served open faced on a fried bun, chipotle sauce and a couple of shots of Tabasco
@facebook-750877593:disqus you are outta control brother! Love it. ALC, and Ski Shores? Definitely have to take you up on that. Want to join me when I go? ~ Eric
Great review of Cover 3. My wife also thought the mac n cheese was inedibly salty. We’ve been to Cover 3 once (twice?) and have no plans to go back. The idea of an upscale sports bar sounds good, but they miss in every way you mentioned.
Looking over your list of places to try, I would absolutely second Lambert’s. Go during happy hour and get THE best deal in town ($6 burger AND fries). Also check out the lunch-only burger at Swift’s Attic. I think currently my favorite in the city, though Lambert’s is making its case.
@twitter-19746570:disqus thanks for the comment. I keep hearing that Lambert’s is a must. So I’m going to have to bump it up on the list. $6 burger AND fries? At Lambert’s? Now that sounds like a step in the right direction. Swift’s attic wasn’t on my list so I’ll have to add them up too. Thanks again! ~ Eric
Definitely on the list to do. There are around 40 joints still on the list… bear with me and keep me posted of new finds Stella!
Bar service at cover3 is alot better than the table service there. It just seems that they are very slow.