Our citywide burger jaunt landed us next at Luther’s. Luther's just might be the happiest hamburger joint in town. Rainbow beer signs adorn the walls; the predominantly male staff is friendly and attentive; and the bright red interior and multicolored light strings on the patio have helped transform this old burger joint into the Copacabana for the late nite crowd.
If you still have doubts, just take one look at Luther’s peppy duo, Siegfried and Roy. They’ve been hanging here for 60 years and are still tickled pink.
Luther’s is located on Main just north of downtown, right across the street from colorful local hotspots Heat and the Saint, making this intersection the hub of happiness for the quirky downtown crowd.
In fact, according to the Luther's website, Luther's and the Heat are partners. Though it's not exactly clear what brought about this unconventional pairing, things seem to be going well for the couple. According to its website, Luther's is open 7 days a week, from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., and even later on Friday and Saturday. I guess a long night of sweaty dancing in a crowded bohemian nightclub really puts some guys in the mood for a burger.
The Burger - 5 out of 10
The Burger at Luther's looks like it might be one of the best burgers you've ever had. But looks can be deceiving, and in this case they were. As Hamburglar put it, "The burger looked like it was going to be great, but it was one of the blandest burgers I have ever had. It reminded me of the lyrics from the Aerosmith song, Dude Looks Like a Lady - 'Never judge a book by its cover.'" Burger Boy concurred, in his usual eloquent fashion: "The meat was big and juicy, but it lacked flavor."
I've been to Luther's several times before, and in that time have had several misses but enough hits that I keep coming back, hoping to see this little burger joint realize its potential by serving me a spectacular burger. Unfortunately, this time it didn't happen.
Sides - 5 out of 10
Luther's offers regular fries, sweet potato fries and tater tots, but rings are not available. Overall, regular fries succeeded best at putting our parade of reviewers in a gleeful mood (although one reviewer found them to be too crispy). BurgerGal provided the following enlightening description: "MY FRIES WERE GOOD."
We have noticed many of our recently reviewed burger joints hopping on the sweet potato fry bandwagon. I personally love the little critters, so I went ahead and gave Luther's sweet potato fries a try. The fries looked pretty but lacked flavor, to my great disappointment.
With regard to the tater tots, Hamburglar commented, "It is really hard to mess up tots, but somehow Luther's pulled it off." More Cheese Please remarked that the tots gave her flashbacks of her middle school cafeteria, bearded lunch lady and all.
The only "sides" that received consistently high marks from our reviewers were the shakes, so next time you're at Luther's be sure to spring for one.
Ambiance - 6.5 out of 10
Luther's shines most in terms of ambiance, which is perhaps one reason why we keep coming back. While I believe "happy" is the term that most aptly describes the restaurant and its patrons, the mood at Luther's has alternatively been described as "blithe," "frolicsome," "jovial," "peppy" and "perky." While the atmosphere at Luther's is somewhat unconventional in comparison with other burger joints we frequent, maybe even to the point of seeming a bit flamboyant, some find the difference refreshing. Burger Boy, for instance, seemed to relish the Luther's milieu, proclaiming loudly and proudly, "I give it a five for festive!"
Another benefit of dining at Luther's is that with all of the rainbows and palm trees, you are apt to feel that you are dining in the Aloha State instead of downtown San Antonio.
Luther's benefits from having a great covered patio area. More Cheese Please noted that "the atmosphere would have been a lot better with a longneck in hand," and regretted immensely having to return to work rather than lounging outside among Luther's eclectic clientele.
Luther's has been around a long time, as the jocund hamburger pictured on its menu makes a point of proclaiming . . .
and the restaurant has carefully preserved its heritage by keeping the original wooden bar (complete with vintage barstools). This also affords customers an open view of the grill (one should worry when a burger joint hides this).
One more note on heritage. Luther's makes a point of letting members of the female persuasion know they are welcome, lest any male bonding on the premises should create doubts about this.
However, should such ladies stop by the powder room during their visit, they will encounter on Luther's "Wall of History" (located between the men's and women's restrooms in the back of the restaurant) a picture of Mr. Luther himself (at least I presume that's who this is):
I am not a lady, but this picture scared the crap out of me and made me want to run from the restaurant screaming like a little girl. I can understand why management keeps this picture in the back of the restaurant, as it would otherwise annihilate the merry mood prevailing amount the restaurant's patrons.
Alas, in the end, a festive atmosphere cannot compensate for mostly lackluster food. Luther's seems to have all of the right ingredients for a great burger joint, but it somehow misses the mark. That being said, Luther's still has a mysterious yet undeniable appeal, and I will probably be back a couple of months from now, even if just for a shake and some good people watching.