Another great Authentic Austin establishment, Hut's Hamburgers is one of my two favorite places to get a burger, the other being Burger-Tex. But where Burger-Tex has the best hamburgers I’ve ever had, Hut's (great burgers in their own right) is one of the coolest places in Austin to actually eat your meal (sorry, Burger-Tex - my orders are usually to go).
807 W 6th St (78703)
To begin with, there’s a tremendous variety of different burgers available, from the simple Alan Freed Burger with homemade hickory sauce to much more ambitious and condiment-laden creations such as the Fats Domino Burger (lettuce, chopped tomatoes, pickles, mayo, mustard, jalapeños, onions, grated cheddar cheese, and spicy New Orleans seasonings). My personal favorite is The Sink Burger (lettuce, tomatoes, American cheese with grilled ham and hickory sauce).
All told, I believe there are twenty separate burgers. Monday nights (veggie burgers) and Wednesday nights (both hamburgers and veggie burgers) are “2 for the price of 1” nights. Additionally, for a small charge, all burgers can be constructed with buffalo meat, Texas Grass-fed Natural Beef, chicken breast, or home made veggie burger.
There are other sandwiches available as well as a small selection of dinner entrées including chicken fried steak and southern fried chicken. The onion rings are also extremely popular, and for good reason. And my vegan friends tell me that the home made veggie burger is five star and amazingly delicious.
The building itself dates back to 1939 when it was Sammie’s Drive-In. By the mid-1950s it was Eli’s Lounge and then a Mexican restaurant the latter half of the 1960s. Homer Hutson (the original owner of Hut's Hamburgers) took over in 1969, relocating his diner from just down and across the street (and before that, the original-original location of Hut's Hamburgers was on South Congress Avenue—ironically, the first Hut's, like Sammie’s Drive-In, also opened in 1939).
The current owners purchased the restaurant in 1981 and have incorporated remnants of the restaurant’s previous incarnations, including some wallpaper from Eli’s Lounge up at the entranceway. And speaking of walls, there’s enough crap on the walls (I believe the official term in memorabilia) to keep you entertained for a good long while. When chain restaurants bedazzle their walls with kitschy decor, it seems contrived and annoying. Here it works, at least in part because it connects to and honors a specific past.
It’s usually crowded (it’s not a big place) and noisy (there’s something unusual about the acoustics—even though it can be somewhat cramped inside, the group buzz makes it just about impossible to eavesdrop or be eavesdropped on).
Surprisingly, eating at Hut's Hamburgers is not a claustrophobia-inducing experience. By nature, I'm crowd-intolerant. Drop me into the middle of a Walmart on the eve of a major holiday and I'm most likely going to have a breakdown. And even though there’s usually a wait and not much space to do it in, my experiences here have always been anxiety-free. That probably has a lot to do with both the staff and the clientele.
One other note: there’s only token, marginal parking at Hut's. There is, however, plenty of metered parking (free evenings and weekends) along both sides of W 6th Street (four lanes, one way). Hut's is a block or two upstream from the Whole Foods flagship and corporate headquarters, but I've never had an issue finding a suitable parking spot within reasonable walking distance.
Hut's Hamburgers Map - Austin, Texas
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Courtesy of the R.A.T. Austin Restaurant Guide