Sometimes you just have to fully embrace a theme and go with it. That’s what chef and owner Justin Turner has done with his Houston burger bus, an old-school short bus that takes the school shtick and runs with it — from labeling press as "report cards" and truck swag as "school supplies," right down to the name of every burger. But it’s all done with a good-natured wink and elbow to the ribs, and dedicated philosophy to from-scratch dishes that bring you in on the fun.
Turner, the former personal chef for Houston Rocket Shane Battier, is said to have gotten his start flipping burgers at Wendy’s at age 16, but the burgers from Bernie's Burger Bus are a blend of three cuts of natural Black Angus beef, served with homemade toppings including the ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles.
The burgers? There’s The Principal, of course (classic burger), The Substitute (blue cheese, bacon, and caramelized onions), the seasonal Study Hall (Cheddar, barbecue sauce, and pork belly) and Fire Drill (roasted tomatoes, pepper jack, chipotle aioli, spicy guac, and crispy tortilla strips). But let’s face it, if you’re going back to school, you’re going to either want to take down The Bully (two patties, Cheddar, fixings, and roasted tomatoes), The Cheerleader (pepper jack cheese, crispy jalapeños, roasted tomatoes, and jalapeño ranch, or go to Detention (two applewood-smoked bacon grilled cheeses sandwiches used as the bun, two patties, Cheddar, "tipsy onions," and fixings). And if you finish detention, you get on the Bernie’s wall of fame.
Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor. Follow Arthur on Twitter.