Yesterday, Eliza and I decided to celebrate one of those only-in-America holidays: National Chocolate Milkshake Day. To mark the occasion, we visited one of the vestiges of the old, weird Austin: Dan’s Hamburgers. We’re not clear on the story behind this place and the very similar Fran’s Hamburgers. According to a site devoted to roadside architecture, Fran’s opened in 1973 as Dan & Fran’s Hamburgers. Somewhere along the line, there was a divorce and now we have two very similar hamburger options in town.
The atmosphere at Dan’s lies somewhere between a less-than-sanitary Dairy Queen and one of those rooms in prison where you talk to the inmates over a little phone. In a word: grimy. But the food was first class.
First off was the milkshake. Good Lord, this thing was big. It’s shown here next to a large Diet Coke for perspective. A fitting tribute to the holiday, and surprisingly good for a milkshake made from soft serve.
The onion rings were only ok. We weren’t crazy about the breading.
The star of the show was the burger, which comes in small, medium, and large sizes. This one is a large double with cheese. Now brothers and sisters, listen up. This burger stands up to any of the best ones in town. I still cannot fathom why the burgers at Casino el Camino are so highly regarded in all the local “best-of” lists. We’ve always found them to be a little dry. (Maybe they get bonus points for hipster cred). Dan’s burger, on the other hand, was dynamite, with a nice char on the burger and plenty of messy toppings. Emphasis on messy.
Eliza had a single medium. Looks like a munchkin compared to the giant above.
I look at this photo here and think to myself: I am living the good life.
As an aside, there’s an old country song called “Truck Driving Man” that makes references to “a roadhouse in Texas / A little place called Hamburger Dan’s.” We were listening to it the other day and Eliza wondered aloud if they were talking about this place. While it seems pretty likely, we’re not sure. If anyone out there knows, let us know in the comments.
Bluegrass version, courtesy of Jim and Jesse:
Buck’s honky tonk barn-burner version: