Review #53 - Mark's Outing

Posted by Hamburglar | | Posted On Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 10:26 PM

It's been too long….

Remember us?  Probably not.  And we don't blame you.  We haven't posted a burger review since 2011.  That's a long time in today's fast paced, digitized world, and a whole lot can change in 4 short years.  Before we get into it, let's take a brief detour down memory lane to see what's happened since our last post:

  1. We survived the end of the world on 12/21/12 as predicted by the Mayans (congratulations!);
  2. Gangam Style was introduced to the world (perhaps this was what the Mayan's foresaw as the end - condolences!);
  3. A pope resigned (hadn't happened in 600 years) and a new pope was elected (holy moley!);
  4. The U.S. opened the doors to an embassy in Cuba after 56 years (next up: North Korea, Iran, Bhutan?);
  5. Social media became all the rage: Snapchat, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Instagram, Minecraft, Tinder, etc.(who needs to communicate in person anymore?); and
  6. People started calling the pound symbol (#) a hashtag (what were they thinking!).
Even with all this change, one thing has remained the same: our passion for burgers and finding the best burger joints in and around San Antonio.  It's our calling!  Oh, and we also joined the 21st century and hopped on FaceBook and Instagram.  Follow us if you want.

If you don't remember the drill, you can find it here.  But it's really pretty simple.  We scout out SA burger joints, wolf down their bovine creations and then spill the beans about it here.  We give you an honest opinion/rating on the burger, sides and ambiance, and toss in a side of attempted humor (we know, we won't be quitting our day jobs).  And without further adieu…  on to the burger review!

After a 4 year long hiatus, we couldn't wait to see what new burger joints had popped up in San Antonio.  A quick search revealed a new place called Mark's Outing.  Blinded by our excitement, we quickly snapchatted the gang, asked Siri to plot a course, and off we went.  Imagine our surprise when Siri led us right to Fatty's!  The paint color had gone from taxi cab black and yellow to a more "uber"ish black and cream, with a modern logo to boot.  Looks like even Fatty's was consumed by the digital age in our absence.  Let's see how their burger was affected by this change.

Burger Rating - 7.8

No doubt, this is one good looking burger!  I ordered the half pound Fatty's and couldn't wait to dig in when they brought it out.  The ground beef patty was well griddled, dripping with just the right amount of grease and cooked medium well.  So far so good....  But, in my opinion, the patty was a bit under-seasoned, which left me craving that light salty kick you get from a perfectly seasoned burger.  The bun was slightly sweet and complimented the beef well, but that sweet bun was a bit too big for me.  Can someone cue up the "Baby Got Back" track from Sir Mix-A-Lot please?  Mix would have been a fan of these buns.  In fact, I think he may have written this lyric just about these buns: "So your girlfriend rolls a Honda, playin' workout tapes by Fonda, but Fonda ain't got a motor in the back of her Honda, my anaconda don't want none unless you've got buns, hon."  Yup, poetry at its best. 

Overall, on a scale of good, great or awesome, I'd give it a great.  As  an added bonus, my hands still had a faint amount of grease on them later in the day (even after several hand washings), which is the true tale of a great burger.

Oh, and for those with a sweet tooth and an adventurous side, Mark's offers an ice cream burger - think Fatty's burger with a glob of fried ice cream on top - check out the tasty treat on the left.

But, don't take it just from me, here's what some of mi amigos had to say:

Where's The Beef - Whereas many burger joints view the bun as something to just hold everything together, you can tell Mark is a “bun man.”  The bun was fluffy and really added to the overall flavor and texture.  Very similar to what I recall from the Fatty’s era.  [Clearly Where's The Beef and Sir Mix-A-Lot have a common love for big buns]

Flying Dutchman - Certainly one of the most exquisite culinary inventions of this era is the Mark’s Outing Ice Cream Burger. Consider ordering the ice cream burger without any extraneous toppings (other than cheese) or vegetables. Each year on my birthday I venture to Mark’s Outing to celebrate with a vanilla ice cream burger (chocolate is also available) and enjoy the brilliant combination of fried ice cream and hamburger meat. Then I go back to my office and lose consciousness for a good three hours and dream about Kurt Russell movies from the 80’s. I wake up feeling like a new man. It’s a great way to start each new birth year.  If a combination of ice cream and burgers does not appeal to you, Mark’s offers a delicious burger and tasty bun. My recommendation is The Original Fatty’s Burger named after the company’s original namesake. My 8 point score is reflective of my view of their burgers generally, but make no mistake, the ice cream burger is a legitimate 10 (and so is Big Trouble in Little China).

Prefers His Tots Tatered - It’s good to be back.  Having some time to reflect over the past few years, I’ve decided that I prefer a griddle burger rather than one cooked on the grill, and Mark’s Outing delivered.  The thick patty was encrusted with blackened grease, which really sealed in the flavor.  My one critique is that they could have used a little more seasoning on the meat.  One thing I noticed from the change in ownership is the taste and consistency of their buns.  Before, Fatty’s perfected the homemade Hawaiian Bun, but Mark’s attempts were a little on the thick and dense side.

Burgermeister Meisterburger - Cooked to my medium well request, toppings were very fresh, cheese had a nice gooey melt to it, but not overwhelming, slightly fluffy bun is a nice addition.

Fry Daddy - I’ve always been a fan of Mark’s Outing (which I’ll continue to privately refer to as Fatty’s until my dying day), and heading into this critique I was rooting for my All-Star Avocado burger (i.e., original Fatty’s Burger plus avocado) to match or surpass my previous experiences at this eastside burger joint.  The sweet Hawaiian-type roll that served as a bun was as delicious as ever; the cheddar cheese was plentiful and perfectly melted; the lettuce and tomato fresh.  But at the heart of my experience was a dark spot of disappointment.  The hand-crafted beef patty – the most crucial component of any burger – was (sigh) quite bland.  With Mark’s diversity of options and focus on freshness, it seems to have forgotten the importance of a little salt and pepper.  However, taking the whole burger into consideration, this Outing was still worth the trip.

Burger Boy (ever the cunning linguist)- I like burger. Bun was tasty.  Many pickles was good.

Sides Rating 7

 As you can tell from the score above, the sides left a bit to be desired.  Truthfully, it's hard to nail the sides, since they usually come out of a frozen bag from Sysco.  Overall, the Onion Rings were great, tots were good and the beans were unusual but tasty.  What's that you say, beans?  No, No, you say, that can't be right.  Burger joints don't serve beans in the day or night! Well, Mark's Outing sticks with the non-traditional burger joint side of beans (offered up gratis from a community pot) for those who like to spice up their life and the lives of those in close proximity to them.

And, survey says:

Where's The Beef: The onion rings were fantastic.  I didn’t try the fries or beans (I declined the latter because I care about my co-workers).

Prefers His Tots Tatered: I know.  It’s blasphemy that Prefers His Tots Tatered didn’t try the sides, but it’s true.  A couple of kids and several more years later leads to trying to have a “less carb lifestyle.”  I’m ashamed of myself for seeing these words on the screen.  I don’t know if the Pinto Beans count as a side or not, but they were excellent.  They tried a baracho style with pico and jalapenos cooked with the beans, which was a nice appetizer before our burgers came out. [Note to the Readers from Hamburglar - please make sure no one tells Prefers His Tots Tatered that beans are fairly high in carbs!  He's really not losing any weight, and we'd prefer to keep him on the upper side of 200]

Fry Daddy - The burgers are the main attraction at Mark’s, but the sides deserve an honorable mention.  The perfectly crispy tater tots were very flavorful; the onion rings were good but not spectacular; and the fries, alas, were only passable.  However, in my humble opinion, the real belle of the ball is the pot of complimentary pinto beans, complete with jalapeno, tomato, onion and other seasonings.  Kudos to Mark’s on staying true to its Texas roots.

Ambiance - 6.1

I suppose if you've had a long day, Mark may let you crash on his couch!  Overall, not a lot of excitement for the ambiance at Mark's - it's missing the classic burger joint flair, and feels a little too large and bright in the dining area. The other's tended to agree:

Where's the Beef - I like the new white/black exterior paint scheme.  The Fatty’s yellow was a bit obnoxious for my tastes.  The inside looked the same, and I find it unintentionally dumpy.

Fry Daddy - Ambiance is where Mark’s really falls flat.  There’s nothing distinctive, cozy or particularly fun about the space.  Mark’s needs to take a page from the burger joint playbook and jazz up the walls and environs with something more than just newspaper clippings, awards and other accolades for its burgers.

Burger Boy - Inside the place looks a lot like Fatty’s used to look.  I don’t remember the comfy-looking couch from last time, but I like it.

After a big burger lunch, what would you feel up to doing?  Perhaps a little game of hoops at the parking lot on the side?  Only at Mark's Outing, my friend.