100 Austin Burgers: Vince Young Steakhouse

Vince Young Steakhouse
301 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin (map), 512-457-8325, www.vinceyoungsteakhouse.com
Hours: 5-10pm Mon-Thu; 5-11pm Fri-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 12.22.16
After six years in business, the Vince Young Steakhouse has outlived the brief shining pro moment of its quarterback. Not that the former Longhorn and Tennessee Titan ever had much to do with it beyond the name. No, the credit goes more to owners Laura McIngvale-Brown (of Houston’s “Mattress Mack” furniture dynasty) and her husband and chef Phillip Brown. The interior — with curved golden booths, beaded dividers and light-resistant surfaces — still reminds me of a strip club. But the service, the menu and the winelist are more professional than the mascot ever was, and happy hour includes a $10 version of a $23 steakhouse burger.
 Wagyu Brisket Burger: Of all the brisket-infused burgers I’ve eaten for this series, this is the first that actually tastes like brisket, with its fatty profile and open range flavor. “Medium” came almost raw in the center, but that was a blessing in disguise, bringing out a character you never get from brisket after 12 hours in a barbecue pit. Beyond the beef, the burger’s built on a bakery soft roll with petite butter lettuce leaves, ripe tomato, a rich blanket of white cheddar and razor thin housemade pickles that lend a balancing acidic twang. Along with Jacoby’s on the East Side and Parkside downtown, this is a contender for best happy hour burger — and burger value — in the city. ($23 with fries; $10 in the bar during happy hour 5-7pm Mon-Fri)
 On the side: Clean, crisp, handcut fries with big potato flavor round out this package, with a side of handmade ketchup like malt-shop marinara. (There’s Heinz in the back for the ketchup hardliners.)
 Mac and cheese: Because sometimes fries aren’t enough. This entree-size baking dish of big elbow mac is only $8, a bargain for baked-in cheese character, a broiled crown of melted cheddar and just enough house-cured bacon to create salty, smoky crosstalk. One of Austin’s best bowls of mac and cheese.
 Wash it down: In the press days leading up to the steakhouse’s opening, colleagues reported that Vince Young was a babe in the winey woods, fumbling pronunciations as he struggled to catch food blogger Hail Marys. His nominal steakhouse has a serviceable list, with 18 by the glass ($9-$18) and super-premium bottles in a semi-private wine room. I took a pass on cocktails with names like Rose Bowl (a French 75 with rosé) and Burnt Orange-Tini (vodka, pomegranate and OJ, really?). The inVINCEable made a workable margarita out of Patron tequila and citron, agave and lime. But at $12, call me unconVINCEd.
100 Austin Burgers

(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)