603 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704
Rating: 10 out of 10 (!)
Sandy’s is the eatery I frequent most when I’m in Austin. In a city with such an abundance of extraordinary gastronomic options, that makes Sandy’s kind of a big deal.
Authentically retro and in business since the 1950’s, Sandy’s seems to have shunned modernisation. The drive-thru notifies staff of a waiting customer via a cable across the driveway, which sets off a bell in the kitchen when a car rolls across it. You then pull up to a scratched, worn, crackling speaker and hope that they’ve understood your order. It’s all delightfully unpretentious.
All charming decor aside, the fact is that Sandy’s make my favourite hamburger in the whole world. Ever. Sandy’s burgers are always completely satisfying, without being overly filling. It’s the type of burger you can have anytime, rather than one you have to be mentally prepared to tackle (see: Casino El Camino’s 3/4 pound burger).
The menu is no frills, no fuss, no fancy pants upgrades. Basic hamburgers with the standard options of lettuce, tomato, cheese and bacon. And here’s the real kicker – they ONLY have small fries. Yes, even in the land where nearly everything can be supersized, and coffee is available in servings larger than the capacity of a human stomach, Sandy’s have held strong and stuck to their principle that all you really need is a little paper bag of deliciously crisp, salty, shoestring fries.
So what makes their burgers so magically delicious? Well aside from a juicy and tasty beef patty which is thin but generous in circumference, the big decider is the the bun. Dear friends, it’s a little known fact that the style of bun has direct bearing on the awesomeness of a burger. My pet hate and automatic burger disqualifier is when they are served on high buns with a crisp flaky crust which scrapes the roof of your mouth and overworks your jaw. (Yeah, I really do spend that much time thinking about it). Sandy’s burgers have a soft, sweet and maleable bun which entirely fulfills its role as a go between for your hand and the patty. That is the bun’s whole purpose in life – to sandwich the meat in a neat little package by complimenting rather than detracting from the filling.
Summer’s choice: cheeseburger without onion
For future reference, the mark of an excellent burger bun is one in which you can press your finger, and it retains the indentation.
And although I would happily pay more, Sandy’s also have a permanent special on Thursdays and Saturdays of a regular burger, fries and a drink for $3.69. Obscenely cheap.
My most recent experience with a Sandy’s burger was choosing to have it as the final meal of my last trip to Austin, and being so preoccupied with procuring one before my flight, I managed to lock myself out of the house a mere hour before I was due to head to the airport. Passport and suitcase still inside. Thankfully, I have amazing roommates who were able to come to my rescue, fully understanding that the call of the burger was just too strong.
But how do I know I really love Sandy’s? Because (aside from a decent Bloody Mary) it’s the number one food item I can’t wait to eat when i get back. *insert yearning sigh here*
*Every time I’ve eaten Sandy’s burgers, I’ve wolfed them down without ever pausing for photographic documentation. Thus with zero pics and roughly 8875 miles currently between me and the restaurant, I asked my talented friends Cole and Summer to snap some pics for me. Photos in this post are courtesy of them.