Monday, November 24, 2008


This week the Odyssey set out to answer life's great question: Who is better, the men or the women? The wife or the husband? You see, Dan's and Fran's used to be one but they split and now are two. Last week the Odyssey visited the Husband, Dan. This week we cruised south to Congress Avenue to sample the lady, the wife, Fran. And the verdict is in, and it wasn't even close: The women are smarter, and better and juicier- Fran's kicks Dan's ass, and BurgerMatt's stomach.

Fran's has almost the exact same menu as Dan's and the same old time feel. While Dan's sports a cool red sign, Fran's also has a cool red sign but adds a pretty sweet awning to maintain that 50's look. The 1950's were apparently the heyday of the burger as it seems that every good burger joint looks like the 1950's (McDonald's on the other hand looks 70's which was a horrible decade for burgers). The inside atmosphere has red and white tile, a few booths, but nothing too complex. Like any good burger joint, this place is for gettin' messy with a burger.

FriedEd switched it up this time and went with the 4 oz Hickory Burger as he is still watching the old belly. The hickory is nice and sweet which compliments the tasty patty. FriedEd has a theory that the older the burger joint, the more flavor their is in the meat. We were unable to ask a lot of questions about Fran's and its history as their were impatient bellies waiting behind us. Oh well, I guess we will just have to go back.

We were once again met by the Rock Stars and brother (not a monk). The Sage spoke early and said, "What is this dipping sauce people are putting their fries into?" And with that, God made ketchup and the Sage was happy. Later, the Sage was called upon to evaluate the Burger. He spoke again, "The pastry taste of the bun suggested a gluten free batter." His words were recorded for posterity and as I write, BurgerMatt is busy carving them in stone, so when our civilization falls, the words of the Sage will still be known.

FriedEd ordered the fries and shake. The shake was great and FriedEd enjoyed the brain freezes. The fries were excellent and perfectly salted, but had too much pepper on them (FriedEd's fault, not Fran's). Overall an excellent experience and in FrienEd's mind, Fran's has moved into a close second with Dirty's.

Burger: 91
Fries: 89
Shake: 85
Feel of Stomach one hour later: 77
Joy of watching BurgerMatt's agony over his double cheeseburger: priceless


This week the blog was excited to compare the battle of the sexes! Would man's brawn and brashness outdo women's tenderness and kindness? This is a question asked many times in this world. Leave it to two competing burger legends to answer the ageless question. Well, as was mentioned above, the women are better than the men. Albeit, my burger may end up giving me a coronary and some serious gastrointestinal issues.

Going with what I went with the previous week, this double with cheese packed an impressive punch. How I finished it only God knows but the devil has decided to use my stomach as a punching bag seeing how its about that size. The fries, the best to date, were excellent and were seasoned to perfection. So impressed by the fries this only added to my misery. (I use the term misery as a compliment because I devoured everything that was placed in front of me out of sheer delight.)

The decor is perfect for a great night out with the crew for a great burger. The awning adds to the flare and made us long for girls on rolllerskates serving us at our cars. The odyssey is now in our third month and we have found some impressive burgers and great fries and Frans has garnered much of that recognition. The best fries to date and a very impressive burger Frans will be tough to beat overall.

Th odyssey is looking forward to the final month of the year and handing out some awards before our much needed winter break. Next week looks to be special as we venture to a local legend!

Burger 91
Fries 92

Happy Thanksgiving Odyssey fans and see you in December.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Well, the Odyssey is expanding with our waistlines as we had seven eaters in all. It was seven times the burgers, which means seven times the fun and seven times the laughs. Sadly, the evening began with tragedy. The original plan was to meet at Top Notch, but a member of the Top Notch family had passed away and they were closed until further notice. We will have to try them again when they are having better days. This led to a last second audible and a flurry of Internet searches, texts, and phone calls led us to Dan’s.

Everyone in Austin, big and small, knows the story of Dan and Fran. All except FriedEd, who had to do a little bit of inquiry. He found out that Dan and Fran had once been married and opened a burger restaurant which may or may not have been called “Dan’s and Fran’s”. But then, Dan started hooking up with Sandy and Fran got dirty with Dirty and things in the Austin burger world all blew up when Sandy posted on Fran’s Facebook Wall and divided the once mighty Dan’s and Fran’s. Today, there is a Dan’s and there is a Fran’s and they are far away from each other (even though their kids now own both of them????, uhmm, the plot thickens, whose kids are they?).

Today, there are a few Dan’s and we went to the one on North Lamar which sports a cool red sign. Inside, you have fake wood tables several of which are grouped together into eight tops, which was perfect for the ever expanding Odyssey. Back in the good old days of September, FriedEd and BurgerMatt were all alone just chattin’ about chicks and football. The tradition still continues, but now we have been joined by a couple of rock stars, one of which is a Sage, a brother (not a monk) and two super hot chicks named Erica and Anne (not my sister). NOTE: I have a sister named Anne. To keep everything appropriate here, we will have to leave out the tales of weekend conquests (and one of the greatest text messages ever sent- five guys looked at it and said “whoa.),” but we can say the Odyssey was jazzed to have a 2-0 weekend from the Horns and Boys. Always a good sign of an awesome week to come. But, wait, is this a burger blog or what?

FriedEd ordered up a bacon cheeseburger. Dan’s patrons can go with a small (2 oz), medium (4 oz) or large (6 oz) patty. Since FriedEd is watching the old belly, he went with the medium and a small Dr. Pepper. He was going to go with a large, but then brother (not a monk) pointed out that you get free refills so why not go with the small. A small it was, Dan’s was going to be tricked. But, karma always catches up because the Dr. Pepper, an essential part of the FriedEd diet, was out of order and FriedEd had to go with Coke which is lame. FriedEd also ordered the curly fries.

The burger was solid with a good, seasoned and juicy piece of meat. I would describe it in several paragraphs, but instead I will let the Sage speak, who in a few choice words overtook The Dude as a brilliant speaker: “The meat was finely ground to the point you could see the grain which means the meat had not been overworked.” Wow. Pause for reflection..... Need anything else be said?! Finer, more brilliant words, have rarely been uttered by man. The meat was good, but on my burger I didn’t quite care for the mustard, and I felt the bun was just slightly stale. The average person may not have noticed the staleness of the bun, but I have a very developed sense of this. Overall the burger was good, but could have been better.

Burger: 87

Curly Fries: 85

Onion Rings: 92

Coke: 24

Average Score of Chicks Around: 99

Feel of stomach one hour later: 77


I must say this Odyssey, in the words of Borat, was a "Great Success!"

Following the Longhorns victory at Kansas and my prediction of a Cowboys win at Washington, (see blog from trip to Dirty Martin's,) I could not have been more pleased with the start of my week. Then again, my weekend was about as epic as can be, but that's for another blog. (Baxter is that you? Bark twice if you're in Milwaukee.)

We had the delight of being joined by, well, pretty much all of our followers. Pulling into Dan's one of the first true signs of a classic burger joint is a great sign outside and Dan's was right there with the best of them. Classic retro 50's sign, does it get any better?

Going with the large double with cheese and the works I was sure to have a challenge on hand. Much to my delight the burger was an instant hit. Excellent flavor, the meat seasoned deliciously, the bun light and toasted and all the fixins were right on par. The fries were a bit unseasoned and bland however the onion rings were very good. One of our guest commented on the burger by saying, "I never usually finish my burger, this one was good."

The extra napkins and condiments on the table were and added bonus as were free refills. I must say I really enjoyed the evening, the company was nothing short of great and the burger and locale were on par of what you would want a classic burger odyssey to be.

Burger: 90

Fries: 80

Onion rings: 87

Monday, November 10, 2008


Hut's is an Austin institution, a place that requires a pilgrimage to if you want to say you live in Austin. Founded in 1939 as Sammy's, they had dancing elephants on the wall, waffle fries, a drive in and apparently no pennants on the walls. But FriedEd has to admit, he has never been a big fan of Hut's burgers. But what he does like is the cozy atmosphere. It is a place that feels like it could be on the set of Happy Days and it just invites friends to sit back and share stories for hours.

On this night the Odyssey set a new record as we were joined by two other people, a first for the Odyssey shattering the previous record of 1 guest. And these guests were not just any guests, they were rock stars with a real actual band celebrating their one week anniversary of rocking the Hole In the Wall (mmm, bar blog........). Their was RadRod and the Frank the Salvo. RadRod demonstrated an important rule: When ordering a burger with a sunny side egg on it, it is important to remember this when you take your first bite to avoid a great deal of confusion. RadRod guest writes below and he can tell you all about it.

As to the burger, FriedEd went with Hut's Favorite which includes lettuce, tomato, mayo, cheese, and bacon. This was a tough call as Hut's has 20 burger choices, some of them quite creative, but the HF is the most popular one and since FriedEd dreams one day of being popular, he always goes with the popular thing. Hut's patties are juicy but a little on the watery side. For such an old place, I have always felt that Hut's should have a little more taste to their burgers. Their fries are thick cut and tasty but I recommend using the salt on them liberally.
Hut's really makes a statement with their Onion Rings that run about the size of a doughnut. If you like eating big chunks of onion then these are for you. Despite the low grade I give Hut's burgers, I will always go back there as it just feels like a good old high school hangout.

Burger: 80
Fries: 82
Atmosphere: 90


As mentioned above we had the honor of having two rock stars embark on the Odyssey. The bass guitar player and the lead singer of Romance Fantasy, (they are playing in Houston December 6th at Fitzgerald's, I know shameless plug.) The historical and famous Hut's burger did not disappoint on the hype as one of the best burger joints in Austin. The atmosphere was was second to none, filled with nostalgia from the multiple pictures of Austin's history on the wall to the Bison's head that is older then some of our readers. Multiple burger choices add to lore of this renowned spot, with a number of best burger restaurant awards on the walls.

As I ordered one of the suggested burgers that came with mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato. and pickles, does it get anymore classic , I was really exited to get a true sense of Hut's. While the burger was good it did lack the extra star power that I was looking for. The hype was high and the restaurant stood up to the challenge, however the burger was not quite there. Lacking in flavor this burger was ok and I would go back to try some of the other many burgers they have to offer, but they still cannot reach the bar set by Jack's. The fries were nice steak fries with skin still on but lacked flavor as well and needed seasoning.

A major plus was beer available at the bar and a knowledgeable staff that really made the experience very enjoyable. I have to say I am torn with my burger and the experience. We stayed and hung out an extra hour after dinner not wanting to leave the place. I am reserving the right to come back and try one of the burgers with jalapenos on them.

Burger: 82

Fries: 79 add salt and they move to 80

Guest Rock Star: Rod Pardey

The search for the perfect burger is somewhat of a quixotic quest. Humbly, I have accepted Matt and Ed's invitation to critique one of Austin's most enduring landmarks.

Emeril Lagasse appeared on Good Morning America to lavish praise upon this Austin institution, and the readership of the Austin Chronicle have for the most part agreed. But to these eyes, Hut's is a rather mixed bag. Has hype once again played a dirty trick upon our judgement? Nevertheless, Hut's is on point in more ways than it is not. Their ingredients (buns included!) are very fresh, and the enthusiasm of their service is uncommon for a restaurant with prices this low. The atmosphere seems a perfect cross between American Graffiti and a dusty town straight out of The Last Picture Show - but, alas, minus the prom queen. That is to say, Hut's may have over-performed in surveys and internet prattle partly because of what it represents, or tries to represent: An America that once was.

Final note:
Next week the Odyssey goes to a famous landmark, for those of you who are into movies you might know this place from one of the most influential movies of our times which lead to launching the career's of so many famous actors. An Austin landmark and one that is sure to get more people to come out, we have six people already on the list, this should be the best one yet.
I will give you a hint, I've been Dazed and Confused for so long.

Monday, November 3, 2008


This week we followed our fans recommendation and chowed down at BurgerTex. There was some confusion as to which BurgerTex to visit, but after a little research it was found that the BurgerTex on Airport is the original location. BurgerMatt and FriedEd always prefer an Austin original as those old grills have a story to tell and some good deep meet seasoning. We will have to try the "new" BurgerTex on Guadalupe on down the road, but as the two are not associated with each other, despite the name, it will be a separate entry.

On this visit, questioning Nicole joined us and so we had to break down a few groundrules of the Odyssey. First of all, we never accept free food. Later, when we are huge and have our own TV show and Internet (that's right, not a website but an Internet) and when we are more recognizable than Vince Young, we anticipate that our arrivals will be a huge event. Even then, we will not accept free food. Secondly, when choosing burger joints, chains are a no no. You will not see the Burger Odyssey at a McDonald's, that would be about as interesting to us as a visit to Norman, Oklahoma. Our basic guideline for this is that it must be homegrown Austin, and the original location. For the Odyssey is more about Burgers, and chics and sports, it is also an Odyssey through Austin history. And what better way to experience Austin history than through legendary burger joints where generations have enjoyed the simple idea of a cow on a bun. To this end, FriedEd, the official Odyssey historian, always asks about the history of the place. This usually leads to a long conversation as Austin burger joints are proud of their history. Now that we have that settled, let's eat.

BurgerTex makes all of its buns fresh daily, twice a day actually and they are good, mmm good. Burgers are served up plain and then the customer dresses the burger. This is a great system to some, FriedEd does not like this system as it gives him too much freedom to mess up his burger and exposes him to out of control ketchup and mayonnaise squirts. It was only with great dexterity that FriedEd avoided having ketchup squirt all over himself, but his burger was not quite so lucky. FriedEd clearly put too much mayonnaise on his burger which overwhelmed the whole thing. Now, if BurgerTex had put the mayonnaise on, they would have known just the right proportions for a perfect taste. The general public, or at least FriedEd, is too stupid to know the perfect amount and giving them the freedom to dress their own burgers makes BurgerTex burgers way too mayonaissey.

Dressings aside, along with the bun, the patty itself is impressive. Nicely salted and seasoned, it comes as close as any patty in Austin to capturing the Jack’s Burger House taste, which is acknowledged by the Odyssey as the perfect burger. Those 1973 grills have some kick in them that oozzes through every bite.

Overall burger score: 89

Fries: 80


The name of the burger that has sparked a lot of interest at this local establishment, is a Korean invention that has taken root in the heart of central Texas. This thinly sliced beef, that has marinated in soy sauce, garlic and ginger, has a ton of Korean bar-b-que flavor. (Where is the Kimchi?) Although not quite the burger we are used to this burger offers more of a unique twist with a lot of flavor to the classic burger. Along with the trimmings bar, which FriedEd was not so fond of, I concocted a gourmet burger that was equally delicious as it was unique.

The fries were a bit on the crunchy side, though the flavor was good, still did not live up to the lofty expectations Jack's has set. As for the ambiance Burger Tex is a classic establishment with TV and pool table. This is where you want to sit, have a burger, hang out with some friends and enjoy the company.

As I did enjoy the Bulgoki, I am going to have to give it two separate grades. I am grading it as a regular burger and as a specialty burger.

Burger Score:

80 for a regular burger

84 for a specialty burger

Fries 79

Next week we are headed out to Huts on Monday night around 7:30 as we will have a guest writer, Rock Star and poker pro with us. None other than the lead singer of Romance Fantasy, Rodd Pardey. Here is a link to their home page.