By Christina Autry

Perusing the oversized menu displayed behind the patient cashier, you methodically weigh your options. “Do I want Angus beef or chicken?” you ask yourself first, before diving into the far more difficult task of sorting out which vegetable and condiment combination best suit your present cravings. Lunch can be a serious business, especially when trying out a brand-new restaurant like JLB in the Spring Branch District.

You decide that on your first visit, it makes the most sense to go with a beefy burger. After all, JLB, which recently shortened its name to an acronym for trademark purposes, stands for “Joy Love Burgers.” Your options narrow to Angus hamburgers, cheeseburgers, with or without bacon, avocado, or a double patty, layered with the traditional greenery, tomatoes, onions and a Cajun seasoning mix. But wait! The namesake “Joy Love Burger” itself is stacked with both beef and chicken patties. The perfect solution to a tough decision.

Interestingly enough, the beef or chicken burger options only constitute three out of twelve of the menu panels available to you. The Kids Menu takes up one panel, as does Desserts, Chili Cheese Fries, Fish N’ Chips, Cajun Wings, Pork Chops, Sandwiches, Special Wraps, and Quesadillas. The common denominator to this surprising amount of variety at JLB is the use of a either a deep-fryer or a grill.

The dessert panel is worth another look, and realistically a separate visit to do these five sweet items justice. French toast with ice cream, funnel cake fries, fried Oreos, Bavarian cream churros, and chocolate mousse cake compete with one another to win the favor of your sweet tooth.

Having paid the cashier and taken a seat to wait on your order, you glance around the newly remodeled JLB restaurant. A black chalkboard mural draws the most attention in the clean and tidy eatery. On the chalkboard, surrounding the words “Joy Love Burgers,” are cartoon characters holding flags for each of the JLB locations around Houston, with one reading “Hammerly.” At the top reads “Baked Fresh Daily,” referring to the scratch-made burger buns, one of the points of pride for JLB. Breads, fish, shrimp, a jug of canola oil, a reminder of their “Certified Angus Beef” are depicted on the wall-sized board.

Because the meals are made-to-order, the wait time is a bit longer than a typical burger joint. When your number is called, you walk up to grab your tray off the counter. This is when first-timer astonishment is likely to set in. “What a massive burger!” you exclaim. The JLB sitting on your tray like dinner for a family of four measures at least seven inches across and four inches thick. This is likely to be the one of the largest burgers you’ve ever unknowingly ordered for lunch.

You can thank the half-pound beef patty and the third-pound chicken patty for the thickness of this enormous burger. Taking a bite that includes both meats, grilled onions, American cheese, avocado, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo is humanly impossible, which allows every bite to bring out a different flavor-profile of the JLB. By now, you’re grateful for the extra wait time that it took to receive what has become your last meal of the day. The house-made freshness shines through the Cajun-seasoned patties as much as the crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside hamburger buns. The tender chicken and beef slabs allow every bite to be juicy and frankly, heavenly.

Stopping by the new Spring Branch JLB location should be next on your list of lunchtime excursions. The extra ounce (or pound) of joy and love added to each burger helps to set JLB apart as one of the most delicious burger establishments in the Houston area.

2420 Gessner Rd. Suite A

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