I happened to be working my sub par job in the South Congress area, and while I usually go directly home and proceed to eat old beans and questionable sausages..... I had a hole burning in my pocket from my meager tax returns. I only had card type payments, I also wanted to actually be full when I was done eating... so the trailer cluster!@#$ was out. Burgers came to mind. Yessss burgers. fries. most excellent. 2 came to mind, the newcomer hopdoddy, and the austin stalwart - fran's.
I emerged onto congress after finishing work .... wondering which one to sample first. Fran's lay right across from me.... so in I went.
it was around 3pm. the place was not exactly hopping. There were some old people loudly exchanging pleasantries in a corner booth.. mainly in depth analysis on fiber supplements.
I walked up to the counter and an another confused looking old lady tried to cut in front of me and make a to go order. After this was cleared up I ordered a 1/4 pounder with fries and a drink.
They had an interesting bun selection, in there was a "jalapeno sourdough" option. I have hard time saying no. I went for it. I sat down and read some of my crappy sci fi novel. it was about some gold dragons that make time traveling roads and one winds up banging a t-rex. and drinking beer in Ur. anyways. on to the food. It arrived and things looked good. the bun was nicely buttered and toasted, fixins looked crisp and fresh, the fries were hot. The burger composition was your usual fast food style burger. thin patty etc. it tasted well seasoned. the bun had a nice texture and went well with the burger. the fixins not only looked fresh but were fresh holy !@# there was a lot of !@#in mustard. the mustard, the grease from the burger, and the water from the fixins eventually formed some sort of yellow slurry that destroyed the bottom of the bun. This was kind of gross. While eating it eventually turned to ruin, there were definitely quite few perfect bites of burger bliss in there. The fries were nothing special, but they were hot and crisp. they might have been the previously frozen variety. I have no qualms with that, provided the price is right. Speaking of which, the total for my meal was $8.04. I am on the fence with this. $8 for a fast food style burger combo is a bit steep. I think this place would be good if you're drunk though. Lots of other fried options. burgers are solid. I saw some hipsters get onion rings. They looked awesome. I wanted to punch them, eat the onion rings, and then make off with their bikes. But yeah, come messed up, order fried junk, leer at old people. Good times.
On to hopdoddy. First pro here, hopdoddy has booze. nice booze. expensive booze. but booze nonetheless. I walked in here at peak lunch hour. it was quite busy. There were lots of well coiffed young adults, probably fresh UT business school alums, trying not to get beef juice on their crisp banana republic shirts. There were also venerable and aging businessmen and women as well. They were all well coiffed. This place can be a little overwhelming. If you are high at all, you might have issues. signs directed that I take a menu, and head down towards the kitchen to order. While in line an attractive blonde came up with a clip board and asked me how many where in my party. Since it was just me she suggested I sit at the bar. I declined as the prospect of a beer or twelve sounded great, I couldn't exactly afford 12 beers, so I decided to get a table and avoid temptation. I was given a number. This apparently corresponds to a table. I promptly forgot it. I ordered a classic burger medium rare. Fries, and a fountain drink. I was then led to a bar with a myriad of drink options, and sauces.. hey.. maybe you SHOULD go here if you are high. The fountain drinks were pretty impressive, a selection of those Maine sodas, dublin dr. pepper, and plain old coca cola. The sauces were a chipotle ketchup, a bbq sauce, and honey mustard horseradish. or honey horseradish mustard. whatever, it was the jam. I wish I ordered my burger with no mustard and put that stuff on it. The chipotle ketchup was nice, the chipotle was not overpowering. if anything it was a weak. it worked quite fine. the bbq sauce was good for the sort of food hopdoddy makes. I wouldn't actually put it near any bbq. I already talked about the mustard concoction. it was awesome. I found my table. some awful lady with her own squeeze tube of mayo was squirting it all over everything she ate. My burger arrived carried by another attractive female staff member. There was a whole mess of fries. The fries were the thin variety, well seasoned. Quite delicious. I picked up the burger, and as my hands squeezed down I was immediately greeted with a squirt of delicious meat juices. not runny latent grease. juice. YESSSSSS. The bun was a challah type and was buttered and toasted. The fixins were crisp and fresh. There was a perfect amount of mustard. no yellow slurries here. The patty was thick and cooked perfectly. It wasn't aggressively seasoned, which is fine as when the meat is good I want the beef flavor to shine through.... and it was delightfully beefy. This is what really sold me, and I feel is really key for the fancier and / or thicker style burgers. Five guys for example, well don't get me started on that. The bun held up from start to finish. I seriously wanted to inhale this thing. I took it slow though. It was a good choice. While I continued finishing my crappy sci fi novel, (it was up to the part with the t-rex banging) another hot girl picked up my trash. She had tatoos on her calves. I don't know if that was supposed to stop me from looking at her ass. Suffice to say it failed in that objective. I was really pleasantly suprised at how good this burger was. I really thought this place was gonna be another derptastic pseudo "austiny" place where people that wished they lived in dallas ate bull@#% on a bun and downed shooters. Well, a lot of that happens there, but the chow is good, and that's all I really care about. My total for my meal was $10.83. 2 regrets - I wish I ordered a beer. something hoppy would have really gone great with it. Also, they are misers with pickles or something. They don't come standard, and you have to request them. Upon a request, one of the several hot girls that work there will bring you a little cup. I was afraid to ask, you can perhaps figure out why.
Decisions? The places are really apples and oranges. Sometimes you just want a dirty burger. Onion rings, and fried tomfoolery. Sometimes you want beefy goodness. Sometimes you just want to oogle women. Sometimes you just want to drink baileys from a shoe. From a pure taste perspective I'd go with hopdoddy... and considering the price difference is about $3, I would find it hard to pick fran's over hopdoddy. But if you want to avoid the "HEY BRAH, LET ME CHOP DOWN A FEW BRANCHES OFF MY MONEY TREE, I'M OUT OF TOILET PAPER BRAH" scene, maybe fran's is for you.