Skip the drive thru in Houston and try these burger joints instead

Houston is a foodie town. You can find every cuisine imaginable from upscale steakhouses, seafood restaurants, BBQ and ethnic foods from all over the world. Sometimes though, you just want a good burger. I'm not talking about a frozen beef-type patty on a sesame seed bun with special sauce. I am talking about a good, fresh homemade burger. The kind where the burger is thick and juicy with the cheese dripping off and topped with fresh ingredients and sides. For a great burger, you need to drive past the fast food joints and forget super sizing. Instead, head to one of these favorite local burger places and get your grub on.

Rachel's Café

This eatery is a favorite with the downtown work crowd. Just blocks from Minute Maid Park, they stay busy catering to hotel guests, office workers and baseball fanatics. The prices are right and the onion rings are plenty. A juicy bacon Cheeseburger will set you back $6.99. Add a drink and fries for $2.50 more, but go for the onion rings. Rachel's Café is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m to 8 p.m.

Hubcap Grill

The Hubcap Grill has five locations but The Heights location is the place to be. With 19 burger options and craft beer, you can't go wrong. The burgers are huge, boasting 1/3 pound patties and offer traditional, Greek with feta cheese and Kalamata olives, a Philly Cheesesteak burger and a Texas BBQ burger, which is a beef patty topped with BBQ sausage. If you're feeling adventurous go for The Sticky Monkey, a beef patty with crunchy peanut butter, bacon, American cheese and grilled bananas.

Lankford Grocery & Market

Since the 1930's Lankford Grocery & Market has been a local favorite for their fantastic chicken fried steaks and burgers. Featured on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and included on Gourmet magazine's list of 20 Burgers to Eat Before It's Too Late this is a true Texas burger joint. Professionals in suits, blue collar workers and good ol' boys alike converge on this place daily to get a good old fashioned hamburger. Serving 20 different kinds of burgers the Firehouse Burger with Habanero sauce, cayenne butter, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, pickle & onion is not for the faint of heart. It is no wonder they had to add outside seating just to accommodate the crowds.

The Shack

The Shack Burger Resort is just that, a resort for burger-loving diners. Covered outside eating, things for the kids to do, wacky art and damn fine food. From Asian fusion brisket to The Bad Decision, a burger with bacon between a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich, this place has the ordinary and not so ordinary. A selection of different types of buns and sides like onion strings and fried pickles and the portions are Texas big. So big in fact they serve your food on a pizza tray. If you want to blow your diet, and maybe a button on your pants, try the Grease and Weasel Burger, a beef patty with slab bacon, cheddar cheese served between a glazed donut.

A born and bred Texan, Bob Bales is a freelance writer and is always on the lookout for a good burger.