Although Rio Grande Valley businesses have been progressing quite a bit in the last few years, I feel our food industry is finally starting to become more adventurous. Restaurant owners are finally starting to realize we want an experience along with their great dishes. What I am talking about are places that think about providing much more than just a burger and fries, (although I love me some good burgers and fries) but more in the spectrum of an entertaining experience accompanied by amazing food.
Civilized Burgers for Uncivilized Appetites
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A great example of this is University Drafthouse, located in Edinburg, Texas. Complete with a very inventive gourmet burger menu that also happens to be very wittily named , creative and refreshing cocktails, a great selection of beer on tap, fun games, pool tables, darts, large TV screens, and sometimes live music, this place is really doing it right! Although their cuisine is what initially attracted me to this place, I have returned for their friendly service, their beautiful establishment, and their modern take on a burger restaurant.
Appetizers- Aka Prerequisites
Here we have possibly the best combination of things in one appetizer. For 6.95 you get two jalapenos cut in half, stuffed with white cheese, wrapped in bacon, and cooked to a crisp, accompanying potato skins topped with yellow cheese, chorizo, and jalapenos in vinegar. Sour cream is served on the side for dipping. I don't know exactly how they read my mind and fulfilled my appetizer dreams, but they have, and it couldn't be executed more brilliantly. The jalapenos have a bit of a kick, but the cheese and bacon do a great job and mellowing that out, while the potato skins are just a little bite of heaven. They are salty and crispy, with a bit of tang added by the jalapenos, and with the sour cream, they are really hard to beat.
The Fried Mushrooms appetizer is also an example of an appetizer done just right. Although they are fried, the batter is not too greasy, or overwhelming. These mushrooms are quite hardy, and don't let the picture fool you, they serve up quite a handful of them. (This picture was taken after we had already dug in) Accompanied by ranch for dipping, these are a great for any mushroom lover.
The Deans List
Starting off with well seasoned Angus Beef, some beautifully melted Brie cheese, (Bbq caramelized) onions, (sauteed) mushrooms, arugula, and truffle aioli (aioli is a mayo seasoned with delicious things), Raul could not believe the quality and taste of this burger. The mixture of the onions, cheese, and mushrooms is just the right amount of sweet, the meat is quite thick, but not dense, and the arugula adds a bit of much needed tartness to this exquisite burger. The bread is toasted for just a little crispness and honestly, they just do a really great job at burgers!! Raul finished his entire burger so quickly, and honestly this combination just works really well.
If you need more than this picture to make you want to try this burger, I think you might need your eyes checked, but I'll let you know what's in anyway, because this thing is amazing. The patty is made up of chicken, just the white part, mixed with scallions, and grilled until perfection. It is then topped with green apples, pine nuts, and sprouts. Besides adding amazing texture, these ingredients add a great dimension of flavors including nutty, tangy, and just delicious. Stacked on a bed of lettuce, smeared with chipotle mayo, and all on a whole grain bun, I have eaten this burger every time I have visited, afraid that nothing will compare to its majestic flavors. Possibly the best part is that after eating this burger in its entirety, I never feel overwhelmingly full. (not sure if that says something about this burger, or about me, but I'll just leave it at that.) You will not regret ordering this.
The Free Bird
Truffle Parmesan Fries
Everyone knows that a burger is not complete without fries, but these are not ordinary fries. These are Truffle Parmesan Fries. Alone $5.50 or to accompany your burger $1.50, these fries are extremely rich, quite abundant, and crunchy from start to finish. I assumed they would be on the salty side, but I was surprised how unexpectedly mellow they were. Magical is the only word I have to describe them. They are cut thin and sprinkled with Parmesan to make some of the best fries I personally have ever tasted. Available also are hand cut fries, sweet potato fries (also tried, also loved,) beer battered wedge fries, battered valley onion rings, a side salad, or sauteed veggies ranging from $2.50 to $3.00 alone, or $1.50 when added to any burger. Options really make the world go 'round.
First and foremost, I'd like to explain that I am not much of a drinker, and if I do drink, I like the sweetest, most nonalcoholic tasting thing I can find. With that being said, I very much enjoyed the drinks offered at University Drafthouse because of their variety and deliciousness. The drink closest to us is the Berry Bruiser (I had two of them.) It includes vodka, basil, raspberries, strawberry syrup, and lemon juice, in a mason jar full of ice. If you are into fruity drinks that aren't too strong, this is definitely for you. The yellow-orange drink in the back is their signature Moontang, and it comes frozen, contains moonshine, and tastes very much like TANG! (90's flashback very much appreciated!!) This drink was a little stronger, but was also very refreshing. Fortunately we visited during Happy Hour which is 4-7 everyday, and our drinks were $3.50. I believe normally they are $6.50, so visiting during happy hour really worked out for us.
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My one complaint is that Friday & Saturday nights they do get a little busy, and sometimes the servers have a hard time handling the amount of tables they have. Because of this, my favorite time to go is in the middle of the day because the servers are able to explain menu items much better, answer any questions without feeling rushed, and just have way more time to properly care for their tables.
Whether you are looking for a great meal, or a place to relax, University Drafthouse has done a great job at establishing somewhere you can do both. With an inside bar that opens up to the outside patio, lots of space to mingle with friends, and an extremely inventive menu, I really think that University Drafthouse will be very successful in the RGV.
Address- 2405 W. University Dr. Edinburg, TX
Phone- (956) 380.4444
Hours- 11am-11pm Sunday-Thursday
Inexpensive & Pricier Items- $/$$
Family Friendly/during the day