Skeeter’s: It’s the mesquite grilling that distinguishes the Adair family’s burgers — made to order with a variety of cheeses and classic toppings such as bleu cheese and bacon, chili and guacamole. Patties are served simply in a basket with fries and range from $9.95-11.95. 5529 Weslayan Ave., on the east side of Weslayan Plaza. (A pared-down burger menu is also available at the family’s Betsy’s café in Evelyn’s Park, 4400 Bellaire Blvd.)
Little Matt’s: Another local family-run, family-friendly spot. Cindy and Bill Lillard list eight burgers — including a buffalo burger — on their menu. Offerings are distinguished by the sheer variety, gourmet buns including sourdough and egg varieties, and a wide array of toppings and touches such as a pesto aioli. Burgers and fries combos go for $11.95, except for the buffalo, which is $15.95. 6203 Edloe St., West University.
Jax Grill: There are nine burgers on the Jax menu, all mesquite grilled using fresh-never-frozen beef and other niceties such as toasted buns and a range of add-ons including fresh pico de gallo. Prices range from $9.99 for the Original Jax to $14.99 for double-patty specialties. 6510 S. Rice Ave., Bellaire.
Bellaire Coffee Shop: The area’s most retro eatery, with booths, communal tables, and counter service where you can watch the precision of a cook juggling a score of orders on the grill. The menu features six types of conventional burgers and two specialties: The cheeseburger club sandwich, and the monster melt. That’s a 1/3-pound traditional patty melt on grilled rye with Swiss cheese and grilled onions. Prices are dirt cheap with the upper-end burger specialties, fries and a soda going for less than $10. (There’s also a ground sirloin steak meal on the menu with veggies and a dinner roll.) 5422 Bissonnet St., in the Bellaire Triangle Center.
The ’401: This hip family favorite keeps it simple with a the “OG” cheeseburger, a fancier bistro burger with chipotle sauce, bacon, avocado and cheese, and chicken and a Beyond Beef veggie version. Offerings are $14 and $15 including seasoned, hand-cut fries; $7 for a child’s cheeseburger and fries. For $2 extra, you can add the eatery’s famous bacon jam, and for $3 a gluten-free bun. 6700 Ferris St., Bellaire.
Tapester’s Grill: With a whopping 14 choices on the menu, including lamb, bison, turkey and veggie versions, Tapester’s is a local burger destination, with prices from $8.99-$14.99. They even have a daily brunch burger starting at 8:30 a.m.: A meaty 1/2 pounder with a cajun remoulade sauce, carmelized onions, swiss cheese, bacon, fried egg & hash browns on challah toast. The tab is $13.99, $7.99 for a child’s half-size order. 4520 Beechnut St., off Newcastle Drive.
— Charlotte Aguilar