By STEFAN MODRICH
Still holding its own in a crowded marketplace on Murphy Road, Tornado Burger remains an iconic Stafford institution — even if the COVID-19 pandemic has forced it to shut its doors to dine-in traffic.
A poster hanging outside the front of the restaurant boasts a review from the Houston Press calling it the “best cheeseburger in Texas.”
Tornado Burger prides itself on freshness and insists that no burger should touch the grill until you order it.
I wanted to find out if the place lived up to the hype.
And in my estimation, the folks at Tornado Burger delivered. The speedy service and the quality was an indicator to me that Tornado Burger is well-equipped to continue prospering through the duration of the era of socially-distanced takeout orders.
I ordered the No.1, a spicy double cheeseburger ($6.10 for the sandwich, $7.75 for the combo). It has garlic, onion, jalapeño and other spices ground into the meat. The bun is soft and plump, and the tomato, lettuce, grilled onions and mustard enveloped the two 3-ounce patties with a nice blend of competing flavors and textures.
I’ve had plenty of burgers in my lifetime, many with spicy accoutrements or condiments. But never have I had one that packed the kind of internal heat and potent flavor that Tornado Burger’s signature sandwich does.
The single patty is $3.05 for the sandwich and $5.95 for the combo, and if you’re really hungry, the triple patty is $6.65 for the sandwich and $9.55 for the combo.
The rest of the menu is as classic as a vintage American burger stand gets, with chicken strips ($7.75 for six) and a Gyro combo ($9.35).
For the vegetarian crowd: You can get a Black Bean burger ($3.50 for a sandwich, $6.40 for the combo) and a Mushroom Pita with tomato, onion, cucumber, tzatziki and feta cheese ($6.45 for the sandwich, $9.35 for the combo).
I personally don’t care for a ton of extra toppings on my fries ($1 for regular fries, $3 for large), but I’d be lying if I said the Tornado Burger selection didn’t at least make me strongly consider doing so in the future.
Your more conventional options start with cheese, chili and garlic parmesan, all $1 each. Spicy sauce or ranch is 50 cents each, and pickled or fresh jalapenos or grilled onions are 25 cents each.
Bacon, mushroom and feta, which immediately jumped out at me, are also $1 each, and would seem to me to be your best bet if you’re looking to get a little something extra out of a traditional staple side dish.
If you’re stopping by on the way home from work, I’d suggest giving one of Tornado Burger’s frozen alcoholic beverages (16 ounces for $4.95, $8.95 for 32 ounces) a try.
On offer is the Margarita, Hurricane, Long Island, Strawberry Daiquiri and Pina Colada.
Address: 505 Murphy Rd., Stafford
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Entrée prices: $5.65-$9.35
Senior discount: No
Healthy options: Veggie burger
Star of the show: Burger