Saturday, November 28, 2009


Over the years, Texas Monthly magazine has helped my food writing more than any other source, plus given me hours of reading pleasure. Like all subscribers, I eagerly devour their Best Of issues, confident in the knowledge that they have really done their homework and have put together a quality list of delectable eateries. Their most recent such issue featured the best hamburgers in the entire Nation of Texas, and scanning the selections, I noted that one of their top choices was Alamo Springs Cafe, located near Fredericksburg, one of our favorite vacation spots. What's more, we were booked for a stay at our favorite bed and breakfast in town, and surely we could locate this place and find out for ourselves what all the fuss is about. So, after due consultation with my lovely wife the Rock Star, we made the drive ten miles south of Fredericksburg, near the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area where flying bats do play.

Once we entered the restaurant, we were heartily entranced by Alamo Springs Cafe and its genu-wine Texas retro decor. In appearance, it resembles a retrofitted wooden private house or small store, with wooden floors, smallish rooms, and plenty of signage featuring pithy sayings. Two employees were on duty that day, our sweet waitress/cashier, and Mike, the genial owner/chef. Warning: If you're in a Dallas hurry, you'd best leave your time anxieties back in the Metroplex and discover the wonder of Hill Country time. Here, people move as slow as they talk, and if you don't find the difference refreshing, then perhaps you're better off vacationing in New York or Houston.

Alamo Springs Cafe features several lunchtime options, and boasts of gourmet specials in the evenings, but we were here on a mission, so menus weren't needed. In due course, we were presented with the justly famous Alamo Springs cheeseburger, which proved every bit as large as the tantalizing Texas Monthly cover. As soon as it was placed down at our table, Mike came over to inspect and pronounced it perfectly medium rare as requested. Indeed it was. In Texas Monthly, Patricia Sharpe lamented the fact that many of the state's top burgers were gourmet, with toppings to match. By contrast, Alamo Springs cheeseburger was classically old-school in flavor and preparation, each bite yielding shards of silken, hearty beef flavor. We split one between the two of us, as it was quite large, and also split a large basket of crispy crunchy homemade potato chips. We paired our repast with very good iced tea, which is the national drink of Texas, and grabbed a couple of German beers from the cooler to enjoy on the patio. (Since Fredericksburg was settled by Germans, brews from the Old Country are widely available here.)

Service was leisurely paced, of course, and Mike came over to tell us a little about the history of his little venture. Seems he opened Alamo Springs as a cafe and general store awhile back, promising a menu that served some upscale dishes in the evenings, along with deli food. Basically, he put the cheeseburgers on the menu to keep the kids happy, but in the first days of operation, he noticed that he sold virtually nothing but burgers, so he instantly junked the deli and general store idea and tripled his order of hamburger meat. Alamo Springs has been successful ever since.

In short, Alamo Springs Cafe serves a cheeseburger well worthy of all the acclaim, and my lovely wife is already badgering me to go back. Discover your cheeseburger paradise soon, and as always:


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