the spot: Contigo 2027 Anchor Ln, Austin, TX 78723
the eats: Burger w/ cheese and fries
the bucks: $16
the full nelson: one of the best burgers in Austin
An article came out in Bon Appétit magazine last year describing Contigo as a restaurant “locals bring out of towners in order to convince them to move here”. I would go a step further and say it is a place to bring your friends visiting from Brooklyn, Silver Lake or San Francisco and say “hey Austin has food as good as you do plus we are as laid back as the patio you are eating and drinking in”. Austin of course has food worthy making a trip for, especially if you hail from the latest and greatest corners of gentrification. Contigo isn’t so much a meal you see on an episode of Chef’s Table but they are as timely and relevant as chef driven, farm to table burgers get. It’s among my top two burgers in Austin and proof that the best Bang for your Burger Buck in this town sits in the mid teen range(Odd Duck is right up there too). But wait, did I say the best burger value is in fact closer to an Andrew Jackson then a Abraham Lincoln? Yeah, I really did. As much as P. Terry’s and Hopdoddy will absolutely sate your burger fix for under $10, whats happening around the $15 mark at Contigo and Odd Duck, well that’s good enough to convince your East and West Coast friends that Austin’s food scene is as relevant as LA, SF or NYC. Need more convincing? Well that’s what I’m here to do.
Devotees of quick cook, smashed or griddled burgers may not list medium rare as a quality marker for their burgers but I most certainly do. Out the gate upon presentation, you know what you are in for here at Contigo – a beef show. Contigo sources their beef locally and as cliched as that might sound, remember that local means Texas farms who have garnered a reputation for producing beef. What might not enter your mind when thinking of Texas beef are the words “grass fed” but that’s exactly what you are getting here. I’m a Midwest reared corn fed beef boy but when grass fed beef is on . . . its on. More and more I am finding that when sourced from a quality farm, and prepared right, grass fed beef is worth the bucks. The bun comes from Easy Tiger, a worthy bakery and restaurant/bar in it’s own right, and really the go to for all things bread for chefs in Austin. The rest of the garnish is standard but being a farm to table restaurant, don’t sleep on the tomatoes.
In breaking with my thrifty tradition I opted for cheese, adding $2 to the tab. You don’t have to as the beef is the star of the show, but the gruyere certainly doesn’t distract and from what you can see here, Contigo knows how to get their melt on. And yes, you are also seeing fries on the plate too. Kennebec potatoes fried in peanut oil . . . perfectly fried I might add. Overcooked fries happen, even at burger joints priced in the mid teens . . . I could see myself coming back for the burger sans the cheese but those fries are too good to pass up.
But this is real reason I come here. A burger that has the depth of beef flavor and succulence like a well seared thick steak. A little aioli finished off this simple burger experience where top quality ingredients call the shots. You could step to Contigo, lose the fries and the cheese and walk out with a burger for $11(and still get chips) and that would be a flat out steal. Or you could experiment with their house smoked bacon or even dive into their burger at dinner where it will only cost you $13 to score the fries and maybe try out their charcuterie program(I love their steak tartare). You have some moves to make at Contigo, and while $16 isn’t the cheapest Bang for your Burger we have seen, the quality and the overall vision of a simple burger with great ingredients rank it up there with burgers like the $35 Black Label at Minetta Tavern. Amongst company like that, Contigo is certainly Bang for your Burger Buck.