The Spring Branch District’s freshest burger joint is, perhaps surprisingly to some, pretty old school.
It’s not hulking like one of those suburban Houston mega-high schools, either. It’s more like a one-room schoolhouse.
The first thing you may notice when walking into Underbelly Burger, 1222 Witte Rd., is the small, retro-themed dining room. It matches the short menu.
Three burgers, one of which is a veggie burger, are the headliners, supported by just a few non-burger choices, including a bacon sausage hot dog, crispy chicken sandwich and kale salad.
“Yes, a salad,” the menu board advises to those wondering.
Burgers are dressed with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and “fancy” house sauce.
“No fried eggs, no brie, and for the love of god, no peanut butter,” says the Underbelly Burger website.
The only sides available are Sidewinder fries (twisted potato wedges) with “Texas-Truffle” (ranch) seasoning and a shot, not a bowl, of chili.
For drinks, there’s beer or soda and four different flavors of homemade shake (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cookies & cream).
The menu and the place might be compact, but the taste is great. And customers are giving the place ample praise.
“I’ll be back. And back. And back again,” one reviewer posted online.
Another happy customer gave a lengthy synopsis of their burger experience:
“The beef patty was cooked to medium-well perfection with crispy edges and enveloped in cheese, contrasted by freshly cut lettuce and tomatoes. The sesame seed bun was also abundant in sesame seeds; a nice touch for extra texture and additional nuttiness to the overall umami taste. No need for extra ketchup or mustard, as a house-made burger sauce perfectly compliments the entire package.”
44 Farms of Cameron, Texas, and Houston-based R-C Ranch Butcher Shop provide the fresh beef for the burgers, with the names of the meat sources right next to the burgers on the menu board.
While many may come for the beef, Texas Highways magazine recently highlighted the house-made veggie burger, comprised of a black bean, brown rice and beet patty topped with avocado, lettuce and corn relish.
Perhaps the biggest compliment in the Texas Highways article is that the veggie burger is “good enough to share a plate with its beefy cousin.” The author even suggested, for those who are not vegetarians, bringing a friend to try half of each — the veggie burger and a beef burger.
It’s that good.
My dining companion, a vegetarian, concurred. Before I knew it, though, I had already eaten too much of my Wagyu Burger to even give the veggie version a try — this time.
Underbelly Burger is owned by Underbelly Hospitality, started by James Beard Award–winning chef Chris Shepherd. (Underbelly and Shepherd cut ties in 2022.)The group also runs Georgia James, Pastore Italian Kitchen, Comalito and Wild Oats.
Underbelly Burger’s founding location is at the Houston Farmers Market on Airline Drive.
At the Spring Branch District location, Underbelly Burger shares a parking lot with Wild Oats, another Underbelly outlet serving a “fresh take” on Texas fare that moved from the farmers market, as well as The Decoy, a mostly outdoor bar with sand volleyball, cornhole and big screen televisions, where patrons can order food from Underbelly Burger to enjoy with cocktails. (Only ages over 21 only allowed at The Decoy).
It seems like no space is wasted at the corner of Witte and Westview, with all three outlets sharing patio space and parking, as well as customers.
Eliminating any waste, in fact, is part of Underbelly Burger’s history.
Underbelly President Nina Quincy has said that the group opened Underbelly Burger to provide an outlet for 44 Farms and R-C Ranch’s ground beef, with the steaks going to Georgia James and no parts of the cow going to waste.
And, based on our experience, you won’t be going home with any leftovers either.
1222 Witte Road
Houston, Texas 77055
Open 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily
— by Dorothy Puch Lillig