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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Burgers, American
Counter service

Mon–Sat 7:00am–9:00pm
Sun 10:00am–9:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, live music
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx

West Houston
11637 Katy Fwy.
Houston, TX
(281) 497-8088
Sam’s Deli Diner
The greasy-spoon burger made better than the sum of its parts

Here’s the deal about Sam’s burger: it’s not a thick, from-fresh patty. It’s from frozen, which, these days, is like saying it kicks kittens. And the bread’s not very good at all. But if too many places these days are jumping on the “quality ingredients” bandwagon only to produce underwhelming dishes, Sam’s does the opposite. It takes those thinnish patties and char-grills the everloving blah right out of them. Then it butters, batters, and grills that bun until you have no choice but to love it, and the way the copious cheese melts and seeps into folds of exquisitely crisp bacon. (It’s especially great when teeming with sautéed mushrooms.) Beware: the jalapeño burger is not for the light of stomach. French fries and onion rings are okay on a good day, inedible on a bad one. Save your calories instead for hand-dipped Blue Bell milkshakes and ice cream.

Incidentally, this place doesn’t have anything to do with a deli or a diner. The walls, which are painted with the mascots of the neighboring high schools, say a lot about Sam’s clientele: you’ll even see Memorial and Stratford High School students—sworn enemies—rubbing elbows. This is a downmarket atmosphere deeply evocative of the heart-to-heart, family-to-customer restaurants that are more common up in Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York, but scarce here in Houston. That’s yet another reason to love Sam’s, frozen burger patty and all.

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