the spot: Cuantos Hamburguesas 1108 E 12th St, Austin, TX 78702
the eats: The Americana, The Campechana, The Hawaiian, The Sincronizada
the bucks: $8 each(just shy)
the full nelson: Mexican Street style burgers from street taco king Cuantos Tacos
On an October evening in 2019, fate or perhaps destiny gave me the unique pleasure of crossing paths with Chef Luis “Beto” Robledo and his little yellow bus that served Mexico City style tacos parked in a Shell gas station. What took me in immediately was how the tacos were cooked: meats simmering in a convex pan in a rich liquid. I had run into tacos cooked in this manner in Los Angeles but never in Austin. Beto would enlighten me that the special comal(pan) the meats were cooked in was called a “choricera” and rather than dry heat, the meats simmer in a confit of rendered fat. I was instantly hooked. And soon so did the rest of the city.
One could say “Beto blew up” since those days but in truth it looks like he is just getting started. Sure it might be because he is about to be featured in a new PBS TV series about a new wave of Austin Taqueros called Taco Mafia. But what really impresses me his follow up to Cuantos Taco: Cuantos Hamburguesas.
Priced at just under $8 you just might find yourself tempted to try more than burger at Cuantos Hamburguesas Much like the taco sibling, Cuantos Tacos, your best bet is to eat en masse. You could almost finish two burgers but you would be better off bringing a friend and splitting three. The question is . . which hamburguesa to get right? I’m glad you asked.
Seared ham and pineapple set this smashed burger patty off and totally justify the name. Ham on Mexican street burgers is common but what makes me a fan of Cuantos Hamburguesas’ Hawaiian the terrific sear on the ham from the plancha or flattop grill. Like every burger at Cuantos Hamburguesas, the toppings are thoughtfully curated. Ketchup, mayo, American cheese and Romaine lettuce ground the burger experience while the pickles hint at a Cuban sandwich vibe. Ham and Pineapple make fora good pair but so do ham and pickles. There’s pickled jalapeños too because . . these are Mexican street burgers after all.
Longaniza a type of chorizo that has been aged. The Mexican sausage is a staple among taco stands but on a burger? A combo that clearly was meant to be, especially when placed on top of a single 2oz smashed burger patty, with minced onion, cilantro, lime juice, chimichurri mayo and an open faced corn quesadilla(costra).
On paper this was the burger I expected to find at Cuantos Hamburguesas and odds are it will be the most popular burger served. This burger screams to be hit with a little salsa from Cuantos Tacos. I suggest the green salsa for the acidity but the smoky red salsa would work well too.
Here’s a little secret about me: I don’t love hot dogs and I don’t love meat on meat on meat burgers. So how will a 2oz smashed burger patty decked out with a butterflied beef hotdog and ham fare with yours truly? Like every burger at Cuantos Hamburguesas, the elements are layered with balance and harmony. Equally as important to the meats were the perfect amount of Romaine lettuce, pickles, pickled jalapeños, American cheese and Chimichurri Mayo.
For the skeptics(like me) try it once, you won’t regret it. This burger is absolutely part of the Mexican Street burger canon and executed at a deft level. Not my favorite on the menu but I was impressed nonetheless.
My favorite burger of the set was the most surprising. The Americana at Cuantos Hamburguesas pretty much delivers what the name implies. Ketchup, mayo, mustard, minced onion and pickles always deliver childhood burger nostalgia, for me at least. This was the burger that reminded me that the architect of this Mexican Street burger inspired food truck is just like me: an American with similar food nostalgia. I was shocked at how well he nailed . . . NAILED the classic American burger experience just by executing the right ratios of meat to bun to toppings.
Cuantos Hamburguesas is more that a follow up to one of the best Mexico City style taco trucks I have ever been to. It’s is a coming out part for a chef who clearly has his sights set on mastering different genres. In a soon to be released PBS docuseries, Chef Beto cites French and Japanese influences in Mexico City style taco truck. That simultaneously blew me away and makes so much sense. Beto doesn’t make a big show out of it on the plate but the work and vision is there. Much like his tacos, his burgers are a work of art on a paper plate.