Restaurants / Openings

New Houston Restaurant Promises a Real No Frills Burger

Watch Out Fancy-Pants Burgers, Balls Out is Here

BY // 06.05.17

Do you grimace at the sight of a burger riddled with toppings? Are you irked by the thought of non-American cheese touching your succulent beef patty? Or maybe you’re just sick of elevated burger renditions and are longing for a classic — No frills. Sans the fluff. Just a straight-up burger.

Restaurateur Ian Tucker feels your pain.

The Ireland native yearned for a humble burger, so much so that when he moved to Houston, he scoured the city for one. When Tucker’s quest ended in defeat, he took matters into his own hands. The result is Balls Out Burger, the Heights newest burger restaurant, which opened last week at 1603 North Durham Drive.

“The burger place really started as a side project, but as I was trying burgers around town, I really saw something that was missing,” Tucker tells PaperCity. “And I thought ‘Hey, this concept could really work.’ We just want to give people a really simple burger. Not many people are doing that right now.”

In fact, the restaurant is so committed to its no frills philosophy that the menu features only four burger options: a single ($7.50) and double hamburger ($10.50) alongside a single ($8) and double cheese burger ($11) fashioned with good ole American cheese. (A kids burger is also available.)

Each burger is crafted with fresh ground beef sourced from 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas. The five ounce patty is griddled on a flat top then placed on an Amish potato roll (Balls Out Burger’s proprietary recipe) made by Houston’s own Slow Dough Bakery.

“We wanted to create a traditional burger that you’d get in say a New York diner 15 years ago, before burger toppings got really crazy,” Tucker says. “I find a lot of times with burgers the taste of the meat and the bread is disguised by the toppings. The meat and the bread is really what you should be tasting.”

While toppings aren’t encouraged, diners have the option to add lettuce, pickles, onions, and tomatoes — all local produce. Jalapeños can also be added for 50 cents extra. But trust us, you’ll want to spring for the plain, juicy double cheeseburger.

Diners can also add toppings to Balls Out’s straight up burgers. (Photo by Trevor Gerland)

Also on the Balls Out Burger menu, a trio of fries: shoe string ($3), hand cut ($4), and sweet potato ($5). And for dessert: a duo of milk shakes — chocolate and vanilla — fashioned with Amy’s Ice Cream.

“We’re hoping to add strawberry shakes soon. We’re just looking for a great local place that makes fresh strawberry syrup. We really don’t won’t to sacrifice the quality,” revealed general manager Paul Rickman.

Enjoy your meal inside of the burger joint’s cozy surrounds, or head outside to Balls Out’s expansive outdoor area for TVs, darts, corn hole, giant Jenga, giant Connect Four, and ladder golf.

While burgers take center stage at Balls Out, the environment also plays a huge role in the restaurant’s ethos. You’ll find that glass and aluminum (recyclable-friendly mediums) are the only vessels drinks are served in — soda and Saint Arnold’s beer are only served by the can, and Texas wine — two reds and two whites — can be snagged by the bottle.

“I’ve always been environmentally conscious. Europeans are just more environmentally conscious as a whole than Americans in general, but we’ve found that Houston is extremely environmentally friendly, and we just want to do our part,” says Tucker.

All of the trash cans at Balls Out Burger are made in-house by Rickman himself from recycled plastic, and you’ll find signs detailing plastic’s hazardous impact on the ocean. Twenty million tons of plastic are being dumped in our oceans — it’s a fact that’s led Tucker and his team to only distribute plastic cups and straws upon request.

“Ireland’s a very small island surrounded by ocean so I’m very conscious of the ocean and the extreme pollution,” he says. “The plastic gets into the ocean, which in turn gets into the fish, and then that gets into us and our insides because we eat fish. So that’s a huge part of it for me.

“We also have 18 bike racks out there so we want people to walk or bike if they can. Dispose of things properly. We’re just really trying to do our part and hopefully put it in other people’s heads to do their part.”

As for Tucker, he’s not finished making his culinary mark on the Houston restaurant scene. Lookout for a second concept — Poitín — from the Irish restaurant mogul next year.

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