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Cover Story - Posted June 23, 2017 9:30 a.m.
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Photos by Shannon Richardson

The Delicious Dozen: Amarillo’s 12 Most Iconic Burgers

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Like any all-American city, Amarillo loves burgers. Any kind of burger will do. From inexpensive classics at ancient dives to fancypants versions dished up at high-end steakhouses, this cow town has no shortage of ways to serve a beef patty between two buns. In the name of public service – and expanding waistlines – we embarked on a burger odyssey through Amarillo’s culinary community. We dined in our cars. We carted out greasy paper bags. We compared pickles and tomatoes and the ever-so-slight differences between green chiles. We ate way, way too much.

But in the end, we were able to identify 12 of the most extraordinary burgers to be eaten in Amarillo – one for every month of the year. You’re welcome, and please pass the napkins.


Hottest: The Burger from Hell at Coyote Bluff Cafe
We don’t claim any real intelligence on what’s served at burger joints in the netherworld. But if you can’t quite stomach actual fire and brimstone, this may be the next best thing. Featured on Season 1 of the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food”, the high-rise heat of this burger stems from its combination of Tabasco sauce, fresh sauteed jalapeños, and a secret Coyote Hell Sauce beneath a blanket of melted cheese. The half-pound of lean ground beef comes on a Snowhite Bakery bun. While the BFH definitely leads with the advertised heat, its spice doesn’t overwhelm the flavor. This is one of the few Amarillo burgers that legitimately has a national reputation, so it’s at the top of our must-try list. 2417 S. Grand St., 373.4640, coyotebluffcafe.com


Most Nostalgic: The Double Cheeseburger at Elmo’s Drive-In
It doesn’t have a fancy name. It doesn’t have secret sauce. It doesn’t have weird ingredients. It’s just a simple, blast-from-the-past cheeseburger, the way they’ve been served year after year after year. Located just west of McMasters on Southwest Third Avenue, Elmo’s has been an Amarillo institution for at least four decades. It’s so old-school that a carhop actually comes to the car to take your order, then brings it to you a few minutes later. Over a no-frills burger – inexpensive, with a great taste and just the right amount of grease – moms and dads tell their kids about having eaten here with their own parents, 20 years ago. 2618 SW Third Ave., 374.3566


Classic Dive: The Double Cheeseburger at Golden Light Cafe
As the oldest operating restaurant in the city and a fixture in the history of Route 66, the Golden Light has a reputation all its own. The place exudes authenticity and greasy-spoon charm – and that’s before you place an order. But that reputation has been fueled over the years by the quality of its food, which is why we’ve identified the Golden Light’s double burger as the classic burger joint ideal. Served on a grilled Snowhite bun, the Certified Angus Beef patties are expertly flavored with Golden Light’s distinctive seasonings and accompanied by pickles, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and mustard. It’s the kind of burger that you totally expect from a place that opened in 1946, which makes it, well, kind of perfect. 2906 SW Sixth Ave., 374.9327, goldenlightcafe.com


Biggest: The Red Dog Triple Play at Grills Gon’ Wild
Grills Gon’ Wild started as a “fine diving” cafe (their words) south of the city at I-27 and McCormick, attached to a liquor store. Last month, the diner moved north into the restaurant at Western Bowl. While its space may have expanded, we’re hoping the Red Dog Triple Play burger doesn’t get any bigger. Any meal that requires four words in its name – or a menu description that claims it “separates the men from the boys” – better live up to the advertising. This one does. Its three handmade patties represent a full pound of meat, accompanied by three gooey slices of cheese (weight unknown). Add any of the available extras to it and you’ve got a monstrosity on your hands. Open wide. 5120 Canyon Drive, 418.6001, grillsgonwild.com


Best for Meat Lovers: The Brisket Burger at Kathy’s Kitchen
If you’ve ever eaten a burger and thought, “what this burger really needs is more cheese – and maybe some brisket,” then put Kathy’s Kitchen on your lunchtime bucket list. Located on the Fritch Highway just inside the loop, Kathy’s has cinderblock walls, a no-nonsense concrete floor, and widespread recognition for its food cooked fresh to order. Highlighting the simple menu is its Brisket Burger. It’s exactly what you’d think: a regular hamburger topped with brisket, barbecue sauce, cheese, and a couple of jalapeño poppers because why not? It’s also as messy as you’d think, so be sure to ask for extra napkins. And trust us: It’s worth the drive. 4517 State Highway 136, 383.2513


Alternative Meat: The Buffalo Burger at Embers Steak House
Known for its attentive service and classy atmosphere, Embers Steak House has also gained a following for offering less traditional cuts of meat, from bone-in pork chops to buffalo filets. That novelty extends to its burger menu, highlighted by the Buffalo Burger. Richer, sweeter, and leaner than beef, the buffalo patty offers a fantastic flavor and pairs expertly with the sharp white cheddar cheese. The delicious pretzel bun, accompanied by owner Chad Lardie’s homemade mustard sauce, completes the presentation. That’s no bull. 2721 Virginia Circle, 350.3303, amarilloembers.com


Gourmet: The Bar Burger at OHMS Cafe & Bar
Look, if anyone asks, you didn’t hear it from us. But the upscale environment of OHMS Cafe & Bar is hiding a secret. It’s called the Bar Burger, it’s not on the menu, and you probably shouldn’t look the bartender in the eye when you ask for it. But you definitely should make the request, because it’s amazing. Topped with gouda and a made-from-scratch, mayonnaise-based secret sauce – and expertly assembled between two Snowhite buns – this burger deserves all the attention it’s gotten from in-the-know regulars. Just not too much attention. Everyone: be cool. 619 S. Tyler St., 373.3233, ohmscafe.com


Off-the-Wall: The Peanut Butter Bacon Burger at Furrbie’s
If you’ve only visited Furrbie’s for the classic-Amarillo cheese fritter – a legit reason on its own – then you’ll also want to expand your options next time you hit this quirky downtown diner. Just promise us you’ll keep an open mind, because one of the most popular burgers on Furrbie’s menu is the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger. Based on a suggestion from an out-of-town customer, this burger comes with a combination of grilled and raw onions plus the usual lettuce, tomato and mayo. Then Furrbie’s layers on the advertised ingredients, including a gooey dollop of peanut butter. Sure, it sounds weird, but the hard-to-describe flavor combo works. 210 SW Sixth Ave., 220.0841


Nontraditional: Wood-Fired Burgers at Hop Slice
Brad Davis’ new wood-fired oven restaurant may focus on authentic pizza, but those simple treats aren’t the only items on the menu. Hop Slice offers three nontraditional wood-fired burgers, appropriately named WFB #1 (provolone, roasted jalapeños, mozzarella), WFB #2 (mushrooms, bacon, fontina, mozzarella) and WFB #3 (roasted red peppers, onion, mozzarella – pictured). Any of these will delight your taste buds because the patties and ingredients are served within a “bun” made of Hop Slice’s pizza dough. The crust gives these burgers an undeniably rich burst of flavor – totally unexpected, and totally worth your time. 2818 Wolflin Ave., 418.4852, hopslice.com


Brunch: The Brunch Burger at Crush Wine Bar & Deli
Maybe mimosas are required, but who says brunch has to include eggs benedict or french toast? Crush Wine Bar & Deli combines lunch and breakfast in its protein-rich brunch burger, topping a large, mouth-watering 8-ounce Kobe beef patty with a hangover-curing fried egg. Bacon, pepperjack cheese, green chiles, and garlic tomatoes add to the rich, complex taste. As with everything else this downtown eatery serves, the expert presentation only intensifies the experience. Set aside a late Saturday morning this summer, grab a seat on the outdoor patio, and sink your teeth into this delectable combo. 701 S. Polk St., 418.2011, crushdeli.com


Southwest Flavor: Green Chile Burger at Blue Front Oyster Bar & Cafe
The Blue Front has been a greasy-spoon tradition in Amarillo for more than half a century. Last year, the iconic Sixth Street diner sold to the owners of El Tejavan, which is probably why the Green Chile Burger on their new menu quickly became the unanimous favorite during our taste-testing session. The chiles offer a perfect balance of flavor and kick, augmented by melted pepperjack cheese, onions, romaine lettuce and tomatoes on another soft Snowhite bun. What we like most of all is that these large, satisfying burgers are affordable, with regular lunchtime specials around $8. 801 SW Sixth Ave., 372.0659 newbluefront.com


Vegetarian: Veggie Burger at YCSF Craft
Does a burger require meat in order to still be a burger? Not according to the proprietors of YCSF Craft. This sit-down incarnation of Scott and Rin Buchanan’s Yellow City Street Food offers a rotating daily menu. If you’re lucky enough to arrive on a day when the Veggie Burger comes up to bat, then take our advice and order one. It’s definitely the caramelized onions that make it so delicious. Or the house-made aioli. Or the melted Swiss cheese. Actually, it’s the house veggie patty, which is so flavorful we’re suspicious the secret ingredient might be beef. (Not really. It appears to include yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, all crusted in panko crumbs.) The Buchanans say vegetarian options are becoming more and more popular at YCSF. Then they quietly recommend ordering a “Hypocrite,” which is the veggie burger with a topping of pulled pork or bacon. 2916 Wolflin Ave., 353.9273

by Jason Boyett

Jason has written more than a dozen books and is the host and creator of “Hey Amarillo”, a local interview podcast. Visit heyamarillo.com and jasonboyett.com.
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