feed the beast

Burger Gauntlet: Empty tables, Decent Burger-Beer Deals at Brian O’Neill’s in the Village

by Hugo Esteban Rodriguez Posted: 09-02-15 | 2 years ago
Photo Credit: Hugo Esteban Rodriguez / Hype Houston You've definitely passed this place once or twice.

Let’s talk about Brian O’Neill’s in the Village…and I’m not talking Greenwich. I’m talking Rice.

But first, let’s talk about Houston’s parking situation. One of the things I love the most about this city is that there’s a little something for everyone. Yes, you’ll run into people that tout Northgate and/or Sixth Street as the only places with authentic nightlife in the state.

Sure. Okay. Those are fun places.

Told you it was empty.
Told you it was empty.

But Houston doesn’t have one area. It has many. Plural. There are so many zones you could go months without seeing anyone you know. There’s Rice Village, Midtown, Downtown, Uptown, Washington, the Heights, City Centre, The Woodlands, Sugar Land and stretches of Spring, Chinatown, and Navigation — especially if you’re into late night taquerias and noodle houses. There’s always something that totes your goat, floats your boat, tickles your fancy, [redacted] your fetish in this beautiful city.

But the parking? Well, it’s just ugh.

The one thing you Aggies or Longhorns do have on Houston, though, is that you could easily hoof it from campus to your bars. You can’t do that in Houston (safely) unless you’re walking from Rice’s Wiess College to Rice Village. But that’s half an hour worth of walking. So you drive. And you deal with the parking. And by deal I mean “try not to have an aneurysm” with the parking.

In Midtown, you’re dishing out $10 to $20 for valet parking, unless you’re there at 7 p.m. — and stop it, because you’re not going to be there at 7 p.m. — or you’re playing a dangerous game with the residential towing in the area.

Downtown parking is tricky; you want to stay near the bright lights, and that comes at a $10 clip.

On Washington, you’re navigating side streets and still walking a significant distance just to get to your destination.

And in Rice Village, you have to be there early or you’re stuck in the garage complex, or buying something just to save $3 for parking.

Two lost bar souls swimmin' in a fish bowl...
Two lost bar souls swimmin’ in a fish bowl…

That being said, I have a new $3 hand sanitizer for my car, and it smells like pumpkin spice.

A friend and I ended up at Brian O’Neills because we were assisting a local meetup for a bunch of Internet friends. and Rice Village won out due to the least amount of driving for all involved parties. The night started out at Little Woodrow’s, followed up with several rounds of Cards Against Humanity at the Ginger Man. We then ended up walking to Brian O’Neill’s. As usual, I’m the second-shortest. Curse y’all’s fantastic European genes.

Upon entrance, the first thing we noticed is that, well, it’s sort of empty. There were two people half-assedly watching the Cowboys play their first pre-season game, while the rest of the people at the main bar were engrossed in conversation with each other.

Could be that it’s a Thursday, and that there’s no proper football on? Or is it that everyone else is either sleeping or drinking elsewhere? Maybe they all decided to chill outside? Whatever the situation, the group decided, based on the lack of people in the bar, to order food.

Burgers and beers. Life is good in the Village.
Burgers and beers. Life is good in the Village.

I, however, was initially reluctant because a.) I don’t trust bar food beyond Flying Saucer or Revelry’s monster pretzels; and b.) I figured the burgers really couldn’t be that good.

But then our waiter informed us that there was a special — $10 and we get a Stella Artois or another beer, along with a burger of our choice.

Well, shit.

$10 for a burger is a pretty reasonable deal, especially when you consider the dearth of other food options in the area. I wasn’t even drinking, and was somewhere between peckish and ravenous, and know that on the way home I’m not going to want to stop for Whataburger or quesadillas at my favorite taqueria.

So, I opted for the combo.

After we ordered, we headed to the nearby pool table, scrounged up some quarters and began a not-very-competitive game of pool.

When our order arrived, I took survey of the food and decided that it’s not entirely bad looking, which again, is high marks for bar food.

You can't really see this burger, so just know it was solid.
You can’t really see this burger, so just know it was solid.

My overall opinion of bar food is usually avoid it at all costs and just get really hungry so you can have dinner at Whataburger or a taqueria. If there’s a need to sober up — or sober your drunken friend up; you know who you are — B.B.’s Chalmette Macaroni does just the trick.

But somehow this burger — the one from Brian O’Neill’s in Rice-Not-Greenwich-Village — managed to measure up, despite its bar kitchen origins.

I mean, I’m wouldn’t go so far as to list it as one of the best burgers in Houston, but it’s definitely a solid option, especially for bar food. It was smoky, properly-seasoned, and goes well with the fries that are served up on the side. Not too greasy, not too salty — a simple good is probably the best way to describe it.

As I looked around, I noticed that everyone else around me who’d ordered the burger combo had already finished, or had come close to doing so. The burgers had passed the quick group taste test.

Would I go back? Probably, and I’d remember that O’Neill’s has a solid option for a burger, especially if it comes with a beer.

But would I go back strictly for the hamburger? Probably not — not unless I worked in Rice Village or needed more of this deliciously-scented hand sanitizer. Now that was worth the money.

Hugo Esteban RC

"You can take the Mexican out of the Valley, but you can't take the Valley out of the Mexican. Writer, poet, interpreter."

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