Longhorn Cafe’s burger makes the Best list

Original Big Juicy and onion rings at the original Longhorn Cafe location on Blanco Road inside Loop 1604.

I finally tasted the burger at the Longhorn Cafe — and it’s good. How good? Read on.

It’s not a fancy burger and it’s not backed up by a big marketing budget. But it’s a good, straightforward burger, filled with great flavor. And you can’t beat the atmosphere that evokes a small-town feel, even though it’s just inside Loop 1604.

The next time I go, I’ll try the beanburger or the jalapeƱo cheeseburger. For now, I kept it simple with the Original Big Juicy — the regular with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mustard and mayo. The patty stayed true to the name, while the rest of the elements accentuated the overall flavor, and a grill-toasted bun elevated and brought it all together. Overall, I liked the burger a lot, and will definitely add it to next year’s edition of San Antonio’s Best Restaurants.

Although Longhorn Cafe has expanded into a local chain, the original location began as in the 1950s as a taco stand on Blanco Road. Back then, this stretch of road must have felt like a cow pasture, far away from downtown. For all I know, it may have actually been one. Even now, the gravel parking lot and well-aged interior keep the restaurant close to its roots.

This restaurant does serve more than only burgers, but I’m not sure I saw anybody order anything else when I visited. Maybe the chicken-fried steak is good, too. I’ll order one, eventually. I will strongly recommend the onion rings, thinly cut and hand battered with a crisp, craggy breading. The onions themselves were cut thinly enough so they cooked and softened in the fryer, but kept just a bit of their fresh crunch. These onion rings were good enough on their own to prompt a drive. Those rings, with a burger and a couple of beers and a Spurs game on TV — that’s a great evening.

So yes, Longhorn Cafe’s burger has earned a spot on the top list. Maybe not at the very top, but it’s definitely on the list.