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Josh

Hubcap Grill, Owner Ricky Craig's Local Hamburger Chain Undergoing Rapid Expansion

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I'm normally a purist when it comes to burgers, but Hubcap Grill has made me rethink that stance.  Over the course of a few visits to the Heights location now, I've had a standard cheeseburger (unless you are an NFL linebacker or Olympic athlete w/ massive caloric requirements best not to go for the double), the seasonal hatch chile cheeseburger, the guacamole swiss, and the philly cheesesteak burger.

The relatively thin (but massive in diameter) 1/3rd pound freshly-ground patties are cooked more or less to medium, with a nice crust.  The buns are custom-made specifically for Hubcap, and accomplish the impossible feat of remaining intact despite the onslaught of drippy toppings and glorious fat.  I started things simply, with the house cheeseburger.  Served with standard toppings, you get a real sense of the quality of the beef, and of the deftness of the hand that is seasoning it.  So far, so good.  I'd come back again and again for the simple deal, though I could imagine that sometimes I might want to opt for a "lighter" meal with a smaller, skinnier, fast-food style burger, like Shake Shack (or apparently the soon-to-open FM Burger just of Washington Ave).  

Of the specialty burgers, the only one I wouldn't be in a hurry to order again would be the guac/swiss.  Not that it was bad by any means, but it just didn't do enough for me to sway me from the plain jane.  The hatch chile was a thing of beauty that will leave you blissful, sated, and wrecked.  There is no skimping on the chiles here, and this is Texas, so there is no skimping on the spice level of said chiles.  You will need more than one beer (or Topo Chico) for this.  Order appropriately up front, so you aren't waiting in line to get another beverage, mouth ablaze.  

I was VERY skeptical of the Philly cheesesteak burger, but after hearing it's praises sung by Alison Cook from the Chronicle, and Texas Monthly, and then being steered that way by owner Ricky Craig himself, I had to do it.  Christ almighty was that a sandwich.  It's a mess, and it's huge, and you might die when you finish it, but dammit, it's good.  This is a thing that if done wrong, would be the worst of 2 worlds: a shitty cheesesteak, and a shitty burger, or maybe worse yet: a good burger ruined by a shitty cheesesteak.  Alison Cook recently encountered a less than stellar version, and wrote about it, lighting a fire under Craig, who went around to each of his locations to retrain (and offer free burgers to folks to prove the quality was back).  I am glad to have avoided the off-day, and whatever Craig did to whip his team into shape certainly seems to have worked.

Also of note: the sliders come 4 to an order, and are topped with grilled onions.  Great size for the little people, but are great in their own right.  Simple. Delicious.  Fries are hand cut and mostly great (my last order was greasy and a bit on the undercooked side).  Sweet potato fries excellent as well.  Strong selection of local beers in cans and bottles.

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Great news for travelers heading through IAH. Hubcap Grill opens 11/17 in Terminal A. Here are the details from Ricky Craig (via Twitter). 

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