Hamburger America: Christian’s Tailgate Bar & Grill in Houston, Texas
Editor's note: Burgermeisters! Here's another excerpt from George Motz's book Hamburger America. George and his publisher were kind enough to allow us to run them here, along with George's beautiful photos. Eat up!
Imagine walking into an open mic night at a Texas roadhouse and finding Billy Gibbons, front man of ZZ Top, on stage. At Christian's this is entirely possible because Billy’s good friend Steve Christian owns the place. Manager Kim told me, "He’ll come in and put his name on the list for open mic." When the Texas rocker comes to town, Christian's is his first stop for drinks and one of the best burgers in Houston.
Steve's grandfather and father ran Christian's as a convenience store and a roadside bar for over fifty years. Steve told me, "In the 40s this was a dirt road out here,” pointing to the impossibly busy Washington Ave, large trucks rumbling in every direction. After a stint as a DJ in a topless club and a job as a crane operator, Steve told his dad he wanted to be the third generation owner of Christian’s. When he took over the business he had plans for expansion. Part of his plan was to put a great burger on the menu, and that burger wins "Best of Houston" awards annually.
The burger to get is the jalapeno cheeseburger—a fresh ground half-pound griddled two-fister that comes in a green plastic basket on a toasted white bun with lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle, mustard, and mayo. The jalapenos are snappy and hot and compliment the large portion of meat well. Halfway through my burger I had a good sweat going and a slight buzz from the heat. "I only buy cold-packed jalapenos. They are the only ones that have a crunch," Steve explained. "I’ve spent years getting the ingredients just right."
This burger will be around for a while. Steve plans to turn the business over to his son eventually. "We’ll see. He’s only five years old now."
Christian’s Tailgate Bar & Grill
Hamburger America is available at Amazon and comes with a DVD of George's movie of the same title.