Friday, August 12, 2011

Gonzales Burgers - A Small South Texas Store With Whopper Sideline Lunch Products

According to the local resources, Gonzales Burgers evolved from a small grocery store started 60 years ago. Following several economic and neighborhood changes, its sideline burgers and fries became its major products. Although this store is built onto the side of the family home, it is fairly small. Its storefront has plate-glass windows and a covered concrete patio holding four picnic tables. It is owned and operated by three sisters, heirs to the original founders.

Inside, it looks like one room having two rows of lengthwise-aligned 10-to-12-seat white banquet tables with an aisle running down their middle toward the counter in the back. Yet its prep and storage rooms, and a single restroom are to its right side along with shelving for the groceries on-hand. Its walls are decorated with stuffed animals, e.g., rattlesnake, turkey, antelope and deer heads, Muskie and other fish. It can hold 40 people okay, plus another 20 or more outside.

On the back wall behind the counter, a regular iron griddle with a single two-basket fryer to its left faces the back wall under a hood. To its right, a lid-covered condiment bar is where the fried burgers are dressed with lettuce, sliced tomato and onion, mustard, dill pickles, and grilled onions if requested. The finished burgers are wrapped in paper there, and then put on a tray with any side orders, like fries or rings.

Where is it? (Hours Mon-Sat 10:45-am to 2:45-pm; closed Sunday; open most holidays)

The store is located in the town of Donna between the towns of Alamo and Weslaco in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. It sits in a semi-residential area, address: 1309 Silver Avenue. To get there, take Freeway-83 east or west to Salinas Road. Exit south there to Silver Avenue (4-blocks south of old Business-83, which runs parallel to Freeway-83). Turn right (west), and go 5-blocks. Gonzales Burgers faces the street on the south side. You'll see the glut of street-parked cars and people sitting on its front patio.

Menu (all contents/prices subject to change anytime; tax not included).

Burgers (Includes lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles & mustard)

    * Hamburger $4.95
    * Double meat hamburger $9.45
    * Cheeseburger $5.35
    * Double meat cheeseburger $9.85
    * Double meat double cheeseburger $10.25
    * Bacon burger $6.70
    * Bacon cheeseburger $7.05
    * Double meat bacon cheeseburger $11.05
    * Double meat double-cheese w/bacon $11.65


    * French fries: regular $2.45; family $4.45
    * Onion rings, large order $4.45
    * French-fries/onion-rings combination $5.45
    * Sodas or bottle water $1.00 each
    * Jalapenos $0.50
    * Chips $0.50

Process (get in line).

Customers enter through the front double front doors, and move through the mid-tables aisle where they will veer slightly toward the right end of the counter. A large lit self-serve refrigerator full of canned soft drinks and bottled water stands there. Fresh coffee, creamer, and packaged ketchup and mayonnaise can also be picked up at this end of the counter.

After selecting your drinks, place your order and pay cash for it at the center of the counter. The cashier will give you a numbered card. Take your seat(s), which can be saved by another person. When your number is called, pickup your order to the left of the cashier.

Conclusion. Overall, the process for getting your food is fairly slow because the production line is much smaller than the customer demand. This wait time can also depend on one's arrival time. My wife and I got there at 10:40-am. The customer line was already out the front door.

Thirty minutes later, we placed our order. We split a cheeseburger combined with a big order of crispy onion rings to avoid a carry-out. The store provides the plastic knives for doing so. We waited another 40-minutes to get our food.

During that time, we chatted with another Winter-Texan couple at one of the tables, enjoyably. Then, after getting our order, we quieted down. These hand-shaped burgers were freshly ground, juicy, and delicious. The onion-ring order was large and sumptuous. Although famished, we could barely finish this meal.

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