"You can take the Mexican out of the Valley, but you can't take the Valley out of the Mexican. Writer, poet, interpreter."
feed the beast
Burger Gauntlet: More Than Just Booze at Beer Market Kitchen on Washington Avenue
Fret not, all you Washington Avenue frat boys and girls. We have a burger installment from one of your own Wash Ave establishments. Yes, some of those places serve food, too.
Wash Ave: It’s not just for copious amounts of booze anymore.
It wasn’t too long ago that I lived on Wash Ave. It was interesting sharing an apartment with my half-Indian, half-Pakistani roommate — we were just about the only two brown residents in our entire complex. Fun times. It was pretty awesome having places like Drinkery or Taps, or one of the other non-racist establishments (you know which ones I’m talking about) in nearby Midtown, which was just a few minutes away.
But. Outside the parking, which I’ve discussed in other installments, Washington Ave is all beer, no brat. I mean, I’m sure some of the establishments have their own bar menu but probably not quite like Beer Market Kitchen + Bar. With the Market’s relatively extensive menu, it’s a place you can stop by, get carb’d up, and then hit the drinks.
Beer Market is open late, so you can pregame, eat, and then Uber it up like some Austinite (or perhaps just get a designated driver like a decent human being) to the bars a half mile away. You’re going to get the munchies anyway, so might as well head that off at the pass so you don’t end up eating plantains from El Rey (which are admittedly good), or even worse, the overpriced and under-stuffed food truck tacos.
Now, on to the area. The Memorial Heights, where Beer Market Kitchen is situated, is a simple strip mall next to the Walgreens at the corner of Studemont and Wash Ave. That strip center has been there for as long as I can remember, and it’s had its fair share of changes in that short time.
A Quiznos closed down and the empty space gave birth to a Subway. And then came a sushi bar with ridiculously bad prices. A wine bar followed. A Tex-Mex place was shut down by the city, which then became a Texadelphia. That closed down, too — which allowed Beer Market to move in. Oh, and this all happened in the span of four years, because this little strip center is apparently a rotating, cursed strip mall from restaurant hell.
But somehow Beer Market has survived well past the strip mall curse, and has made it through a year at this pint. Judging from the tight crowd that was there on a Tuesday afternoon, the attention isn’t slowing down any time soon, either. Good thing, cause it gives people that don’t want to hit up
Sawyer Park Social Junkie or Beavers, another “trendier” food spot just down the street.
When I stopped by on Tuesday afternoon, it was pretty obvious that most of the patrons in Beer Market had just gotten off work. Very few were dressed in jeans — or anything casual, really — and the majority were still in slacks and button-down shirts or polos. It was an odd sight as they switched off between tepid conversation and half-assedly watching sports rerun above.
Beer Market, the actual establishment, is pretty nice. There’s ample seating, plenty of TVs, and oh my god, so much beer on tap. They were running a special that Tuesday, with $2 tacos and $3 Texas drafts.
Heads up, that special — if its still around when you go by — includes crunchy tacos. If crunchy tacos were a historical figure, they’d be Hitler. If crunchy tacos were a heartbreaking sports loss, they’d be The Choke. But, yeah, $3 Texas drafts still went well with my burger.
After we’d ordered an appetizer, I looked for the first burger to stand out — the mac and cheese burger.
Shortly after our appetizer arrived — a small and overly salted platter of fried pickles, onions, and jalapeño — out came my burger.
And, well, take a look.
Looks weren’t deceiving on this one. It tasted exactly how it should taste. The meat, deliciously charbroiled, and the mac and cheese is cooked to the right texture, too. It’s a cheese-laden perfection.
And quite unlike most other burgers, I didn’t even bother to put any ketchup or mustard on the burger — the meat, mac, and bun stood fine on their own.
The shoestring fries that came with it were decent, too — but they’re no Wing Stop or Whataburger fries. Yes, I said it. Whataburger fries.
The burger was great, but to be honest, while I was quite satisfied with the burger itself, I’m not a big fan the price. To grab this thing, it’ll run you a cool $12.95 for just the burger, which I’m sure is pocket change for some people on the Wash Ave stroll, but for the rest of us, that’s a bit steep.
But, to be fair, I’ve paid more for worse food. And for the mac and cheese burger, the taste probably justifies the price every once in a while. Just don’t eat it too often; too many repeat visits could lead to not only a bigger belly, but much, much lighter pockets.