Slider Surprise: Reef disappoints, Hooters (Hooters?) delights

January 18, 2009

Sliders have become so trendy that just about every casual dining establishment has added them to the menu. It seems that every time we sit down, we're confronted with sliders.

And that's not a bad thing. We like hamburgers, we love good ones, and we crave great ones.
On a recent lunch outing, we gave Reef's sliders a try.
They're three plump little hamburgers placed on a nice egg-y bun, topped with carmelized onions and served with a side of fries. We'd heard great things about these sliders, and honestly, we were underwhelmed. The hand-formed patties were thick but overcooked, and the only notable flavor was from the onions. These sliders were begging for some thick-sliced bacon and a gentler touch on the grill. The generic fries were clearly out of a bag.
Yesterday, a very pleasant surprise. We were waiting for car repairs, and Hooters was in walking distance. Normally this place isn't on the radar, but perhaps that bit of prejudice has now been corrected. Hooters is known for their chicken wings, but their sliders are among the best we've tried.
The formula is simple: Hand-formed beef patty, fluffy white bun, melted American cheese, pickles, raw onions. But the execution was excellent: The beef was cooked medium, with a nice pink tinge at the middle of the tiny, thickish patty. The cheese was nicely melted and the quantity was just right, and it fused the veggies to the patty. And the bun was light and fluffy, sealing the deal. Two order sizes are available: Four sliders in the standard order, or six in the large order, which we found perfect for sharing. And the crisp onion strings were a nice alternative to the generic fries.
If someone had told me that we'd prefer Hooter's sliders to Reef's, I would have laughed. But tasting is believing. If there's one rule when you chow down in H-Town, it's that you should throw your preconceptions out the window. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
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