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 P. Terry’s
Most Austinites love P. Terry’s. It’s a true local staple, with seven locations throughout the city. The joint has received numerous awards and accolades. Like most locals, I’ve been to P. Terry’s many times, but I had never been to one for the purposes of a review. So as I walked into the new P. Terry’s location near Mopac and Parmer, my senses were on high alert.
The newest P. Terry’s location is just south of Parmer. If you take the Parmer exit off Mopac going north, you’ll have to make a quick jaunt across several lanes to get to it. Once you’ve safely navigated that jump, you’ll be rewarded with an ample parking lot and a brand new building.
The building itself is large. A glass wall of multiple windows faces west, which allows for a significant amount of natural lighting throughout the day. The windows also have automatic shades that come down when the late afternoon Austin sun shines through the glass wall. The front counter opens to the kitchen, letting you see the employees diligently working to prepare your meal.
- I arrived with Brittany just after dinner time. The place was still active with loyal P. Terry’s fans. I kind of knew what to expect…at least I thought I did. I went to the counter and placed my order: a #3 combo meal (Double cheeseburger, fries and a drink).
I specifically asked the cashier if they had Maine Root Beer at the fountain, which I had seen at other P. Terry’s locations. She responded yes. Upon receiving my combo meal cup, I turned to the fountain drink section only to be floored by the fact that there was no Maine Root Beer! Barq’s Root Beer was sitting in its place. #fail
I was really disappointed, but – even more – I was frustrated that after specifically asking, I was led astray. Not a good start.
To be completely transparent though, every time I’ve been to other locations, they’ve had Maine Root Beer. As far as I know, this is the only location that doesn’t have it. I’ve done my best to keep this in perspective during this review.
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.
Burger Joint Review: P. Terry’s
- Burger Patties = 8.5. All natural, vegetarian fed Angus beef, which is free of all those pesky hormones and antibiotics. The patties had a bit more girth than your traditional fast food burger.
- Bun = 4.5. The bun was not impressive; average is a good word for it. Maybe just a bit below average. It didn’t look appetizing and was uninspired. But hey, it’s a fast food joint, so you can’t expect buns like at The Tavern. P. Terry’s gets their buns fresh from Mrs. Baird’s every four days. I think I got mine on the fourth day.
- Cheese = 6. Ample cheese for the double, but it came out cold. It wasn’t melted onto the burger at all. And apparently the patties weren’t hot enough to melt it, even though I ate my fries first. giving it time to melt. But they do use Land-O-Lakes cheese, which is a boost.
- Messiness = 7. Nice and drippy, with a special sauce that added to the dripping goodness. I like a messy burger and P. Terry’s has it down for a fast food establishment.
- Garnish = 7.5. Special sauce is fantastic! A bunch of fresh lettuce, one thin center cut slice of a very good tomato. All garnish was fresh, and you can’t beat Heinz ketchup, which P. Terry’s exclusively uses.
- Taste = 9. Despite the inferior bun (at least on the day that I went) and lack of melted cheese, the combination of the freshness of the garnish, the high quality patties, and the special sauce make for an explosion of burger goodness in your mouth. So in short, look at my marks on those other things with a grain of salt. I break them down because it’s part of the review, but the taste of the burgers at P. Terry’s is hard to beat and unmatched in the fast food industry here in town.
- Fries = 10. Too bad there isn’t a mark of an 11. So far, these are the best fries in town. All natural Idaho Burbank potatoes, cleaned and hand cut in the kitchen, then fried in canola oil. The flavor of the potato is intact and they just melt in your mouth. Combine them with Heinz ketchup and you have perfection. The fries come in a nice little wrap and there is plenty in a single order. But if you’re coming with me you’d better get your own because I’m not sharing.
- Atmosphere = 6.4. P. Terry’s is a fast food joint, only better. Though a P. Terry’s will never have the character of a place like Nau’s Enfield Drug or Casino El Camino, it does have its own style. Light blues and reds are everywhere, which gives you that feeling of comfort and familiarity, no matter which P. Terry’s you’re at. Every time I’ve been here, kids are all smiles, families are genuinely happy, and they’ve got great music coming out of the speakers. For those with little ones, they have a cute little sandbox style pit outside near their fully covered patio seating.
- Cleanliness = 9. I dare you to find a fast food joint cleaner than the P. Terry’s near Mopac and Parmer. Probably not going to happen. The entire time we were there, one of the employees was literally standing in the dining area waiting for people to leave, so that she could take their tray and clean the table. When we were done, she politely came over and asked if she could take our tray for us. Kudos to P. Terry’s on this mark. There were a few small, but noticeable, discrepancies like crumbs on chairs, ketchup machine splatter, etc. that kept this mark from being a 10.
- Other Factors = 8.5. P. Terry’s is an Austin icon. I can’t tell you how many people we talk to who say they miss it when they move or are even just traveling. There is no other fast food local burger joint that is cleaner, uses fresher ingredients or or more well loved. Personally, I’ll always choose P. Terry’s over any national chain, not just because I want to keep it local, but because it’s actually superior. The location near Mopac and Parmer has plenty of parking, a more well planned drive-thru than other P. Terry’s locations, and ample seating. I just want to encourage the owners to do what it takes to get Maine Root Beer at the fountain. It’s part of why people go. Oh, and as a note, their root beer shakes at this location ARE made with Maine Root Beer and they are sublime.
Bottom Line on P. Terry’s: 7.64 out of 10
Overall Score = 7.64 (The overall score is the average of the 10 categories)
Who would have thought that a fast food joint would come in this high on the list? Well, they did it. If you are one of the rare folks in Austin who has never been to P. Terry’s, you are missing out! Get on out there today, not tomorrow, but today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and don’t forget to try their root beer shake. You’ll thank me later.
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 P. Terry’s? Do you know of any places that I need to add to my list?
New to Austin and this particular P. Terry’s is within walking distance, which makes it a great little stop when walking the dog. They are always super friendly and one particular employee always brings treats out for my pup while I’m outside waiting with him. I agree on the fries, they are addicting!
Unfortunately I have not been to the other places you’ve reviewed. However, I have been to the Hideout Pub (in your considered for review list). The burger I shared with my husband was great, very reminiscent of a place back home called McGuire’s!
That’s really nice of them to take care of your four legged companion. And yes, the fries are fabuloso. Thanks for the vote of confidence for the Hideout Pub. I’m looking forward to checking it out.
Check out Smashburger across from the new Alamo Drafthouse at Lakeline.
Hey @JamesWynn:disqus. We’ve heard good things about Smashburger, but since it wasn’t founded here in Austin, it won’t be featured in this series.
Completely agree with their bun rating – their awful! I like PTerry’s fine – but I don’t fetishize it the way other Austinites seem to.