My husband, Scott, and I recently returned from a road trip vacation. Not only did we get to spend some time with good friends in Ocean Springs, MS, we had a few days with my extended family in Austin, TX. Whenever we’ve driven to Texas, we have been known to drive several hours out of the way to reminisce and eat a “Herdburger” in Jacksboro. It’s located in north Texas about 3 hours and 45 minutes north of Austin. I’m sure some people would wonder why we would drive an extra 4 hours for a burger when there are plenty of burger joints in Austin or at least along the path. The answer to that is a little involved but, a short answer would be that Jacksboro is a really special place to me.
My dad and my uncle grew up on a small farm just outside of town. There were chickens and cows there when I was growing up and now there are goats. (Anyone who has spent time on our site knows that goats are near and dear to my heart!) Jacksboro is also home to Herd’s Hamburgers. The food there is linked to almost every memory I have of visiting this town.
The hamburgers were originally fried on a large butane-powered grill but after the Herd family bought the business, the original grill was moved to its new location on North Main St and fitted for natural gas. It hasn’t changed much in the last 60 years. People still sit either outside at picnic tables or inside on benches or inverted soda cases. The grill operates in full view of the customers and sodas are available in “help yourself” fashion in the old Coke chest. I almost felt like I was in the way of the cook while fishing a Dr. Pepper out of the chest!
The burgers are still fried just the same as they were, way before I was born. The patties are pulled from a single huge chunk of fresh, never-frozen lean ground beef and browned. The buns, also fried in hamburger grease, are loaded up with lettuce, tomato, onions, and mustard. (They now have mayo and ketchup available as extras!)
In the words of my Uncle Jim, “Herd’s Hamburgers are known and beloved all over the state and the nation. From week to week, the population of Jacksboro and surrounding environs meet at Herds. In our family, a Herd’s hamburger is the gold standard of the genre, oft imitated but never surpassed.”