This Hidden Gem on the West Side Has Some of the Best Burgers in Houston
Hidden in plain sight in the Spring Valley Village (near Spring Branch and Memorial City) is True Craft Market & Catering, a small, unassuming restaurant at 1024 Campbell which, surprisingly, has a burger that could be considered among the best in Houston.
The restaurant is owned by Texas Christian University graduates Bryant and Brandaise Reckling, who met in Fort Worth and worked together in restaurants there before relocating to Houston. Traveling and working together abroad in Europe honed their palates, and taught them better appreciation of fresh, simple ingredients and to be wary of processed foods. Bryant would go on to operate his own catering business for a couple of years before he and Brandaise would relocate to Australia and continue their culinary journey. It was there that Bryant would really sharpen his skills, working at the meat-centric Rockpool Bar & Grill in Melbourne under lauded Australian chef, restaurateur, author and television personality chef Neil Perry, who reputedly sources only the highest quality beef in Australia. Upon the Recklings’ return home, they opened True Craft in 2019.
The burgers are the stars here, particularly The Classic, which sports a juicy, perfectly-seasoned American Wagyu patty, finely sliced tomato and red onion, American cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, and proprietary “stockyard sauce”. The thin, mandolin-cut vegetables impart just enough flavor and texture to compliment the beef without overpowering it or compromising the texture. The meat crust is superb, and the patty is rested long enough so that there are just enough juices to dress the lettuce and bun. The Classic is a smashburger, but not to the point of developing crisp, lacy edges. That said, it’s thin and browned enough to appease smashburger purists.
I’ve enjoyed The Classic several times over the last few years, and my reaction each time has been somewhere between Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction biting into a Big Kahuna burger and the Gregory Brothers “Oh My Dayum!” remix of Daym Drops’ Five Guys review. It’s astounding that I’ve yet to see them come up in any “best burger” articles . Aside from The Classic, True Craft has a Double Double with bacon and pickled jalapeños, a Habanero burger and specialty burgers on Fridays.
Other notable dishes include wood-fired rotisserie chicken and the Big Tony, a mouth-watering New Orleans-style roast beef debris sandwich with lettuce, tomato and stockyard sauce on toasted French bread. For lunch, you will also find chicken fajita bowls, tacos, and hot-lunch daily specials such as country fried steak fingers, crispy buffalo chicken sandwiches, and the one item I wasn’t a fan of — chicken and sausage gumbo, which was thin and bland. A variety of breakfast tacos are served until 11 a.m.
The Recklings also offer oven-ready meals that are made fresh each morning, as well as a “fresh market goods” takeaway menu that is available to order 24-hours ahead of time. The market menu includes salads, dips, sides, meat and poultry, including Snake River Farms steaks, and an assortment of enchiladas such as brisket or cheese enchiladas with chili gravy and American cheese, rotisserie chicken enchiladas with poblano verde sauce and Oaxaca cheese, spinach enchiladas with poblano crema, and limited offerings, like Wagyu enchiladas with grilled chile pequin (bird chiles) salsa, ground Wagyu picadillo, and a mix of American and Oaxaca cheese.
The restaurant is counter service with four small tables inside, a few bar stools at the counter, and a couple of tables on the front patio. So, it may be difficult for large groups to dine in and much of the business is geared towards food to go.
True Craft Market & Catering is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday.
Mario Sebastian-Berry is a wine and spirits vendor who has been in the hospitality industry since 2002. Currently, he represents Blanco, Texas-based Andalusia Whiskey Co. and multiple wine labels. Somehow, he also finds time to be Houston Food Finder’s social media manager.