Spec's. Is there anything better than a liquor store lunch? Not when the blue cheese bacon burger, beef and pate sandwich, Frito pie and corned beef Reuben are this good and this cheap. 4970 W. U.S. 290. 366-8260. More locations at www.specsonline.com.
Top Notch. The drive-in burger joint captured in 'Dazed and Confused' changed hands in the spring, from one family to another, the new one determined to change neither the charcoal-grilled burgers nor the golden fried chicken. 7525 Burnet Road. 452-2181, www.topnotchaustin.com.
Red's Porch. Red's is a kind of urban chicken coop for grown-ups, with lots of levels to land on, 20-plus draft beers and a view of the Barton Creek greenbelt. The Smokey Goat is a double-handed, half-pound monster with crumbly goat cheese, dense bacon and fried onion strings. Go with the dense, slightly sweet jalapeno bun and swap fries for a big baking dish of creamy mac and cheese. 3508 S. Lamar Blvd. 440-7337, www.redsporch.com.
P. Terry's Burger Stand. An Austin-cool burger franchise with retro-chic architecture, aqua blue graphics and good burgers with fresh lettuce and tomatoes. Plus hand-cut fries, Dublin Dr Pepper on tap and a local veggie burger with big mushroom flavor. 404 S. Lamar Blvd. 473-2217. Also at 3303 N. Lamar Blvd., 371-9975; and 4228 W. William Cannon Drive, 358-0380. www.pterrys.com. (Reviewed 5/09: 7.5 out of 10)
Nau's Enfield Drug. Nostalgia is the main ingredient on a big bacon cheeseburger, but a fried egg sandwich with thick-sliced ham and a hand-packed banana malt really do the soda fountain justice. 1115 West Lynn St. 476-3663.
Moonie's Burger House. Team-sport friendly places with dense, beefy burgers and juicy grilled chicken alternatives. Combinations include bacon and cheese, chili and Fritos, mushrooms and Swiss and a half-dozen others. Twenty or so bottled beers. 200 S. Bell Blvd., Cedar Park. 249-5214. Also at 13450 Research Blvd., 257-9000. www.mooniesburgerhouse.com. (Reviewed 5/10: 8.0 out of 10)
Mighty Fine Burgers Fries Shakes. The meat is formed by hand from freshly ground chuck, so it's juicy and irregular in a backyard picnic way. Freshly cut crinkle fries and a cheerful lunch counter/cattle auction vibe. 10515 N. MoPac Blvd. (Loop 1), Suite 205. 524-2400. Also at 5601 Brodie Lane, Suite 1300, 735-2800; and 201 University Oaks Blvd., Suite 1380, Round Rock, 381-3310. www.mightyfineburgers.com. (Reviewed 5/09: 7.5 out of 10)
Hill-Bert's Burgers. More than 35 years of burgers, hand-dipped onion rings and good chicken sandwiches on whole wheat buns. 7211 Burnet Road, 452-2317. Also at 1503 W. 35th St., 452-3287; and 5340 Cameron Road, 371-3717. www.hill-bertsburgers.com. (Reviewed 5/09: 6.8 out of 10)
Five Guys Burgers and Fries. A celebrated franchise (just ask them) of great big bland burgers with unexpected free add-ons like green peppers and grilled mushrooms. Boisterously friendly and fast. 3208-B Guadalupe St. 452-4300. More locations at www.fiveguys.com. (Reviewed 2/09: 6.2 out of 10)
Counter Cafe. Crispy oysters, a good burger on a sweet bun, pancakes and other solid diner dishes from a place the size of a two-car garage. 626 N. Lamar Blvd. 708-8800, www.thecountercafe.com. (Reviewed 6/09: 7.6 out of 10)
Black Sheep Lodge. Good burgers, especially the Black Buffalo with sweet potato fries, and a wide selection of beer. 2108 S. Lamar Blvd. 707-2744, www.blacksheeplodge.com. (Reviewed 10/09: 5.8 out of 10)