100 Austin Burgers: No Va Kitchen & Bar

 
 
No Va Kitchen & Bar
87 Rainey St., Austin (map), 512-382-5651, www.novaonrainey.com
Dinner: 6-11pm Tue-Thu; 5-midnight Fri-Sat. Brunch: 10:30am-3pm Sun.
Lunch (starting Sept. 2): 11am-2pm Fri-Sat
                          
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 08.25.16
 
This is not the Rainey Street I wrote about in 2012 for my Compleat Rainey Street series. The pioneering Lustre Pearl moved, then cloned itself and jumped across the street. High-rises blotted out the sun, with Geraldine’s and the Hotel Van Zandt holding down the anchor spot on the south end. G’Raj Mahal moved out of the garage and into the big house. And “Next Food Network Star” chef Brad Sorenson left No Va, the restaurant he helped owner Oscar Laurel conceive and open in 2013. Three years later, No Va is still a minimalist redoubt on this shabby-chic street. Pipe and joint Edison bulb lamps languish overhead, concrete floors downstairs lead to a bar with a honeycomb crown of polished brass, and the walls are an industrial grid of cinderblock walls. Even in this spartan environment, chef Abby Yates makes a double cheeseburger and mac and cheese that’s more like a country diner.
 
 
 The Dodd Burger: If you could travel in time, what would you do? Save Buddy Holly, kill Hitler, tell Pacino to pass on Godfather III? As a restaurant critic and burger masochist, I’d pull aside the genius who invented hamburgers and have him invent sweet onion jam at the same time. That way, every burger would start with beef, bun and jam. We’d all be happier, trust me. No Va’s Dodd Burger goes back to the future with two junior patties seared medium, a gooey double dose of American cheese, a flaky sesame bun and that time traveler’s onion jam. What it lacks in size it makes up for in style. A DeLorean of starch, fat, goo, sweetness and twang. ($10; On Thursdays, No Va plates a specialty burger with a beer from Austin Beerworks for $15)
 On the side: No Va cuts its own fries, and they’re featherlight, with a candy-glass shell and a whispered interior. So hot, so clean. Dusted with seasoned salt and a shower of grana padano cheese ($4/$3 during happy hour, 6-7pm Tue-Thu and 5-7pm Fri-Sat). And because you’ve earned it, somehow, there’s mac and cheese with fat and firm elbow pasta, Antonelli’s white cheddar and a crown of bread crumbs, served in smoldering cast iron. ($10; $4 single-size happy hour)
 Wash it down: A Sazerac isn’t exactly a burger drink — that job goes to the $3 happy hour Modelo or Firemans #4 — but it’s there for you from start to finish, at first cold and sweet, then warming up to ignite the blue heat of absinthe and rye. ($6 during happy hour)
 
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100 Austin Burgers
 
MORE BURGERS ON FED MAN WALKING
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)