by Greg Topscher

First I’ll explain the weird name of this freshly planted Austin institution so that we can move on to the goods. It comes from the following two words: hops, the magical ingredient (related to another magical, but mostly illegal, plant), and doddy, a term used to describe cattle in Aberdeen, Scotland. The origin of the name gives a pretty good feel for what you’re getting into when you come through the very well designed door. Hopdoddy [1400 South Congress Avenue] is described in the following two words: hip (though not hipster) and nerdy. While the two words don’t seem to want to exist together, in a post-Woody Allen world, the two are friendlier than ever.

The menu is short, sleek, and covered in the familiar icons of the food conscious community. Bread baked daily and ground Angus beef form the basis for their inventive burger menu, which features familiar staples like bacon, cheddar, and Frank’s hot sauce, as well as the not so typical tzaziki, Fritos, and Texas goat cheese.

I ordered the Terlingua, named after the famed Texas ghost town and international chili festival fame. It came loaded with chile con carne, tilamook cheddar, and, what I was really interested in, Fritos. I think I ate something like this in a school lunch line, but when I bit in, that memory faded in favor of the glorious now. Chili and burgers are about as necessary a pair as steak wrapped in bacon, with equally palatable results, but the runniness of a chili burger was avoided here with some heavily reduced, always beanless Texas chili, which held my Fritos steady so that I could enjoy the many textures of my relatively clean burger. Finished off with a nice local Hefe and some dynamite Kennebec fries, which seem to be tossed with chives and a sort of sour cream flavor. They're cut thin and gone faster than should be acceptable.

So it’s a hip restaurant on a hip street, serving food that most in Texas would argue shouldn’t be toyed with. But they're smart about it, use great local ingredients, and don’t jerk you around on the price. Dust off the blazer, get the hair done, and go be seen already.

The Terlingua: The Pickin' Burgers Index

Price: 4 ($7 by itself, or $9.25 with fries).
Convenience: 1
Taste: 8 (Delicious, smart, and well-made but without the self-addressed postcard home).
Total: 13 (out of 20).

The Pickin' Burgers Index explained:
Taste is ranked on a 10-point scale, and is entirely subjective, entirely at each individual reviewer's discretion.
Price and Convenience are objective measurements on a 5-point scale. For Price, a "5" is given to burgers costing less than $2.50, a "4" to burgers costing $2.50 to $10, with a point drop for each subsequent $5 price increase (a "3" for $10-$15, a "2" for $15-$20, etc., to a "1" for $20+).
For Convenience, a "5" is awarded to burgers served at over 1000 locations, a "4" to burgers served at 100-1000 locations in more than 30 states, a "3" to burgers served at 10-100 locations in more than one state, a "2" to burgers served at more than one location in a city or region, and a "1" to burgers served at one location.