Fran’s Hamburgers

Fran’s Hamburgers

1822 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
Sadly, like so many classic Austin icons, this joint is now permanently closed. A Torchy’s Tacos outlet will be taking it’s place, hopefully they preserve some of the original iconic structure.

If you’ve watched Friday Night Lights (Clear eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t lose!), you may recognise the above location. If you haven’t seen the series, then you cray-cray. Honestly, it’s spectacular television with excellent story lines, and of course filmed in and around Austin. Fran’s on South Congress doubled as the location of the local burger joint hangout for the Dillon Panther crew. 

Now, if you’ve driven around Austin at all you’d be forgiven for a mistaken case of deja vu, as there exists a chain of Dan’s Hamburgers restaurants with identical signage and retro decor. As the story goes, Dan and Fran were at one stage married then at some point in the 1970s love was lost, a divorce ensued, and the restaurants were split up between them and rebranded. So now you’re either Team Dan, or Team Fran, though I suspect allegiance is largely dictated by location.

The burgers at Fran’s are classic thin patty style, the kind you can grab with one hand. The burgers are available in three sizes, and customisable with several filling options. Want even more nostalgic menu items? Yeah, they got your sorted with malts, shakes, onion rings and even fried mushrooms.

My trip to Fran’s came after a day of motorcycle riding around Mt Bonnell, a lunch of JMueller’s beef ribs and an afternoon drinking session at my new favourite East side honky tonk bar, the White Horse. All this within 24 hours of landing from an epic international flight (clearly I don’t like wastin time when I’m in Austin). The modestly sized burger and crispy fries served up super fast were the perfect dinner solution.

oh American bacon, you’re just so crispy!

I mean, we’re talking somewhere between $2-4 for your burger, depending on the size and fillings. But isn’t that kinda what a burger is supposed to be about? A satisfying, quick and meaty meal that you can eat in a hurry? There’s a great enjoyable simplicity in eating a burger which can be held in one hand and doesn’t drip all over your business.

The ingredients may be simple, but the key is that they’re fresh. The lettuce is crispy, the tomatoes are juicy and everything is made to order, unlike some larger fast food chains.

I think probably for lazy drive-thru factor (and flavor) Sandy’s is still probably my ultimate casual burger joint, but Fran’s is a super decent eat in option. Now, I gotta go visit a Dan’s and see just how different they are.

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Posted on Jun 26, 2012


  1. Gene says:

    What? Fran and Dan broke up! If those two crazy lovebirds couldn’t make a go of it, how is there any hope for the rest of us? What should a burger be? I’ve been asking myself that question a lot recently. Lately, here in Seattle, there have been a lot of $12 – $15 burgers with a lot of fancy beef and ingredients, some of which are pretty decent, but I’m always thinking: are they that much more satisfying than a really decent $4 – $5 burger?

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