While scrolling through one of the Facebook groups I’m in, I saw a post about the best burgers in the Kingwood area and this got my attention. I’m always up for a great big, juicy burger with all the fixin’s. Here are the top five in no particular order: Bill’s Café, Pete’s Burgers, Union Kitchen, 3 B’s Grill and wait for it … Whataburger! Of course, when out and about and in a hurry, I get that craving for a quick Whataburger stop, my go-to fast food burger. And yes, I have a story about that, too. 

Back in 1980, while waiting to move into our new home in Corpus Christi (the home of Whataburger before they moved their headquarters to San Antonio), we stayed or shall I say lived for two-three months in a downtown hotel on Shoreline Drive overlooking the gulf and, yes, all five of us, two adults and three daughters ages 1, 5 and 9, were staying in a standard 2-bed hotel room with a port-a-crib. We had a killer view of the gulf and a view to the right of a building being built. Our daily entertainment was to watch the progress of this building. It wasn’t a tall oceanfront high-rise but a small one-story building with a parking lot. Soon the outside colors appeared, orange and white, then a street front logo: “What-A-Burger.”

Yes, a new location was about to open. Even though we were newbies and had not heard of Whataburger, we were soon going to find out all about it firsthand. We watched every day as they got closer and closer to opening their doors. Then one morning as we sat on our balcony, we noticed a lot of action happening at this new burger joint. With the building complete, the workers were now constructing something outside. It was an outdoor stage being built; within a few hours it was complete. A balloon arch appeared; speakers, microphones and banners were all put in place. By early afternoon, the parking lot was full of cars and people. We were enthralled with the action going on just below our location. And then it happened. The mic went live, a limo pulled up and Mel Tillis stepped out and walked up to the stage as he was being introduced. Little did we know at that time that he was the official spokesman and Whataburger helped Tillis overcome his stutter and start a national conversation. And here he was in person, this famous stammering singer/songwriter entertaining this CC crowd, and us? We had balcony seats and we really enjoyed the show and the ribbon cutting. Our big bonus was being able to walk right next door to enjoy those wonderful burgers. Now if you don’t know who Tillis is, here is a link to hear his Whataburger song: video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-rotz-001&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=rotz&p=more+than+a+burger+video+with+Mel+Tillis#id=1&vid=0194170f2448d1fe71ca04dcf9a56349&action=click . Listen to the song as you “Please Join Our Table” as we wrap our hands around a big, juicy burger!

These are my summertime hit. Served in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, red onions, fresh Greek oregano, hummus and tzatziki sauce. I made this the other day and my husband and grandson both said it was one of the best they have ever had.  If you don’t want to make the sauces, they are both available at H-E-B. I serve them in pita bread or on a hamburger bun topped with fresh baby spinach or lettuce, tomato, red onions and a fried slice of Halloumi* cheese. Great with Greek fries and a cold orzo salad!

Karen’s Big Fat Greek Hamburgers

(Makes 6-8 burgers)

3 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 large teaspoon powdered garlic 
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash of cinnamon (about 1/8th teaspoon)
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
4-5 ounces imported sheep feta cheese, crumbled (to be mixed into the meat), optional
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground beef (80/20)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Halloumi cheese, one slice per burger*
1 cup fresh baby spinach, de-stemmed 
Sliced red onions and tomatoes

Optional: Grill a few slices of pastrami and place on top of the meat before adding the toppings

Mix together meats, garlic, feta cheese if using it, all seasonings, mint and EVOO in a large bowl until well combined; form into 6-8 patties. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Take out of fridge and let it set at room temp 15-20 minutes. Preheat grill on medium-high and oil grate. Cook patties on preheated grill until medium-rare or to desired doneness. Top with fried Halloumi if using, allowing it to melt a bit. Place burgers on pita bread or buns and add toppings of choice.

* Halloumi cheese is a Greek/Cypriot semi-hard, un-ripened and brined cheese.

Scott Pignolet’s Killer Burger

I received this from Scott Pignolet; Phil and I have known him and his wife Peggy since 1981. (Makes one burger) I hope I simplified this enough!

Karen, I am frequently asked,’Dude, don't you ever just make a hamburger?’ Well, no, I don't just make a hamburger; but when I do, starting from the bottom up: 

1 Dave's Killer Everything Bagel
Truffle butter
Slightly wilted heart of romaine lettuce
1.5 ounces Italian sweet sausage
5 ounces ground sirloin
Black truffle oil
Fresh thyme, basil and garlic to taste
2 slices Boar’s Head mozzarella, sliced medium-thick
1/2 cup sauerkraut
Off-the-vine tomato

Mix the ground sirloin and pork together. Take one slice of the Boar’s Head mozzarella and cut in half, and then cut across the short dimension into three equal pieces. Stack the six cut slices to make a block and form a meat patty around the cheese. Starting from the bottom up: Dave's Killer Everything Bagel toasted in truffle butter, slightly wilted heart of romaine lettuce, stuffed sausage/sirloin burger grilled in black truffle oil with fresh thyme, basil and garlic, topped with mozzarella, grilled to 130-140 degrees for medium- rare or 150 degrees if you prefer. The last minute or so, sauté the sauerkraut on the grill and place it on the burger before topping the burger off with tomato.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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