This Texas Chef May Have Figured Out The Next Big Thing in Burgers
Mexico-inspired burgers are the star at Johnny Hernandez's new restaurant in San Antonio, and it just might be the start of something big.
Imagine the perfect burger—it all starts with top-notch beef and a well-chosen bun. But what if, instead of the usual treatment—American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, bacon, whatever else it is you thought were the musts—you went an entirely different route, looking south of the border for inspiration? Pickled onions, queso fresco, avocado, black beans and—to complete the picture, a proper mole negro, the calling card of Oaxacan cuisine?
Johnny Hernandez, one of San Antonio's best-known chefs, is betting big on the idea—his Oaxacan-style hamburger will be just one star of the show at Burgerteca, a brand-new restaurant that Hernandez will soon be opening in the happening Southtown section of the city.
Burgerteca's tagline—"Mexico Inspired Burgers"—gives a pretty clear picture of what you're in for; the menu will hopscotch around the country, drawing on unique regional cuisines in the Yucatan, Puebla, and Veracruz, too.
This certainly won't be the first place to experiment with putting very unexpected things on top of a burger—in fact, this has kind of become a sub-genre of its own over the last few years, as burgers get bigger and bigger, not only in the United States, but around the world. It does, however, appear to be the first time a major American chef is diving into the rich area where Mexico and the hamburger meet.
While the hamburguesa may not enjoy the brand awareness internationally of, say, the taco, the tamale, the torta, or the other Mexican street eats starting with the letter T that we love, burgers are absolutely a part of life in places like Mexico City, where they're sold from simple stands, all over town. Mexico hasn't escaped the worldwide upscaling of the burger in recent years, either—before he became a media sensation in New York, Chef Enrique Olvera opened a burger joint in Mexico City's La Condesa, called Mr. Buns.
Back north of the border, besides a full menu of unexpected burgers, not all of them beef, either, Burgerteca will have a bar, along with a stand-alone dessert operation serving up a selection of house-made, Mexican-style iced treats, from paletas (fresh fruit popsicles) to traditional nieves (ice cream), and raspas, or shaved ice made with seasonal syrups. Best of all, there's going to be a giant, Day of the Dead-inspired mascot, Mr. Burgerteca. Watch your back, Ronald.