Down in San Antonio for a dealer show earlier this summer, we had finished up with what we had to do around noon on that Friday. My colleague John needed to go find some CD's for a demonstration he was going to do in Virginia the following week and we took off trying to find CD stores on the north side of San Antonio, which turned out to be a somewhat difficult proposition. At a used CD shop that we found, I casually asked one of the guys where a good burger joint with cold beer would be - a place the locals go to. He immediately said, "Oh, that would be Chester's." As in Chester's Hamburger Company. He directed us to one down the Interstate 10 freeway just north of Wurzbach Road. (see map)
Chester's Hamburger Company has been around since 1984, but other than finding out that Dale Mabry was the owner/president of the company for a number of years there was no other information that I could find on-line. I'm not even certain how many Chester's there are in San Antonio - there may be three locations or as many as five. In an age of social media and easy ways to get your name out to the public, Chester's Hamburger Co. has no web site, no Facebook page, no Twitter account - nothing that does anything to promote their place in the community. And they may not need it - they're continually voted as having the best burgers in the San Antonio area.
Even the building near the University of Texas/San Antonio Health Science Center that houses the Chester's is very nondescript. They have a tall sign out front that is visible from the freeway, but that was it. The parking lot sloped enough that you would feel a lot better about putting on the parking brake to make sure your car didn't slip out of gear and roll away.
Inside Chester's Hamburger Company, the main dining room had a low slung checker board ceiling. It had kind of a delightful dive feeling to the place. License plates and beers signs covered the walls while antique stained glass window panes were hung in the restaurant's windows. There was a sort of an air-conditioned patio room on the front of the building that looked like it had windows that opened on cooler days. As in cooler than the 93 degrees it just happened to be that particular day.
The procedure at Chester's is to order at the counter and get a number for your order and place it on a table for them to bring it out to you. Everything is made to order. In addition to burgers - which included a chili cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger and green chile cheeseburger - you can also get a BLT, a grilled chicken sandwich, a grilled cheese sandwich, hot dogs, chili dogs, and even salads with grilled chicken, and even a bacon salad. I'd never seen a bacon salad before on a menu anywhere.
The other thing that they had at Chester's was an impressive beer selection. And they had Shiner Premium beer. Hey, when you're in Texas! I had to have one. My colleague John didn't want to slum with me and got a Duvel to go along with his burger. But they easily had close to 75 different beers in bottles in the cooler behind the counter.
John and I got the same thing - the green chile cheeseburger, hold the mayo. And we both got fries (although I thought about getting their onion rings). They were the great greasy fries that are crispy on the outside, but still somewhat pliable when you pick them up. The burger was served with a poppy seed bun.
There wasn't a lot of the green chile salsa on the burger, but it had a bit of a peppery bite to the taste. The burger also came with fresh lettuce, pickles, a tomato slice and fresh raw onion rings. From the first bite I knew this was a very good burger, but I couldn't help but think how much it tasted like another San Antonio institution - Whataburger. (There's a Whataburger right near the airport in San Antonio and I had to stop and get a burger right after I landed in town earlier in the week.) Both Chester's and Whataburger make their burgers to order, the only difference I could see was that Chester's sold beer and Whataburger doesn't, and Chester's uses a poppy seed bun, while Whataburger's is plain. Still, I'm such a big fan of the Whataburger (click here to read about a previous visit to Whataburger), the Chester's burger was probably a small step up in terms of the bun and possibly the veggies that they put on the burgers. Chester's had a very good and very tasty burger.
The guy at the used CD shop didn't steer us wrong. The burger at Chester's was juicy and full of flavor, the green chile gave it a bit of a bite in the taste, the veggies they put on the burger were fresh and crisp, and the poppy seed bun held together very well with the juicy burger patty. Along with a great selection of cold bottled beer, I was thoroughly happy with the burger at Chester's Hamburger Company. It's a step up - albeit a small one - from the very good burgers at Whataburger. Plus they have beer!