Where to Get the Best Venezuelan Burgers in Houston & the Suburbs

A Venezuelan burger from Primo's Venezuelan Street Food. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

Few foods elicit a healthy “beef” between fans quite like the humble burger, and the Houston area certainly has no shortage of satisfying options. Lately, a show-stopping style has become more prevalent over the past several years, and there’s nothing humble about it: the Venezuelan burger. These extravagant creations are piled high with an incredible number of toppings, resulting in an indulgent intersection of flavors. It’s like biting into a whole combo meal at once. As outrageous as it might sound on paper, this masterful mélange works much in the same way that tropical cocktails showcase an intimate merengue of strong flavors.

So, just what are Venezuelan burgers? Much like Brazilian X-tudos or Cuban Fritas, you’ll find each bite to be an amalgam of salt, fat, acid, heat, sweet and bitterness. They’re tall, with all-beef patties cooked between medium and well done that are dressed with a heap of toppings (which I’ve conveniently listed below alongside the Spanish names) spilling over the sides. As an alternative to ground beef patties, many places even have an option to substitute grilled chicken, steak or a mixto option with both. 

Venezuelan cheeses and other ingredients for sale at Sabor Venezolano. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
Venezuelan cheeses and other ingredients for sale at Sabor Venezolano. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

The usual suspects (los sospechosos habituales) for toppings:

  • Fried potato sticks (papas ralladas) or crispy shoestring-potatoes: One of the most common toppings. Grated potato chips are also pretty popular. 
  • Sliced deli ham (jamón): When I say ham, I’m not talking about some spare-no-expense Jamón de Paris or Prosciutto crudo. This is the thin-sliced, rectangular Hill Country Fare stuff that gets tossed onto tortas. It’s briefly pan-fried before being laid atop the hamburger patty like a tasty little blanket. Evidently, the ham budget for Venezuelan burgers is blown on the other ingredients.
  • Fried ripe plantains (plátanos maduros fritos)
  • Venezuelan coleslaw (ensalada de repollo): This is most often listed on menus as cabbage salad and is closer to traditional mayo-based coleslaw rather than something like curtido (spicy Salvadoran slaw). 
  • Queso de mano (“cheese of the hand”): A Venezuelan style of squeaky, salty, cow’s milk cheese (queso fresco) that is served in thick, pan-fried slices. Other common cheeses include queso Guayanés, queso blanco, mozzarella, Parmesan and Gouda.
  • Chopped or sliced hard-boiled eggs 
  • MayoKetchup: Also known as pink sauce (salsa rosada) or Puerto Rican fry sauce. It can be as simple as a 50/50 blend of mayonnaise and ketchup added to a mixture of granulated garlic and onion, lemon juice, chili powder, sofrito and adobo seasoning.
  • Other Flavorful Sauces: You may also see garlic-mayo, guasacaca a creamy avocado salsa blended with lime juice and fresh herbs, or colorful fruit sauces made from pineapple, blueberry and blackberry. It is perfectly normal to see four or more sauces added onto a single burger.
  • Tostones (pronounced tos-tone-ehs): Also known as patacones (pat-a-cone-ehs) depending on where you’re from. These highly addicting snacks consist of sliced and mashed green plantains twice-fried until golden brown with a crunchy exterior and dense, slightly sweet interior. They’re a staple of Latin American and Caribbean cuisine that can be served as an appetizer or side dish. In the case of burgers and sandwiches, I’ve seen them used as toppings or as a replacement for the burger bun altogether.

Conventional toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, avocado and bacon, also find their way onto these big, beefy concoctions in addition to ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. These really are the proverbial clown car of burgers! 

As is the case with many Latin American and Caribbean foods, there’s plenty of crossover between recipes and ingredients from surrounding countries that share the same spirit, and hopefully this article will encourage you to get out there and try something new or better-appreciate old favorites.

Katy 

The Greater Katy Area, affectionately referred to as “Katy-zuela”, is where you’ll find the highest concentration of restaurants and food trucks offering Venezuelan burgers. The area has seen a boom in the Venezuelan population over the past decade for various socioeconomic reasons, and is home to nearly half of all Venezuelans living in Houston. 

La Cucha Burger with fried yucca at ROKO Grill. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
La Cucha Burger with fried yucca at ROKO Grill. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

ROKO Grill, 406 West Grand Parkway: Located in the Park Plaza shopping center, it is responsible for one of the best Venezuelan burgers around. The La Cucha Burger comes with two mighty Certified Angus Beef patties, fried Venezuelan cheese, Parmesan, plátanos maduros, potato sticks, shredded cabbage, ROKO sauce, creamy cilantro sauce and a side of fried yucca. The selection of sides really seals the deal, as does the clean, modern aesthetic of the restaurant. 

Shevere Bar, 25600 Westheimer Parkway: This festive Latin and South American restaurant in the Fort Bend neighborhood of Parkway Oaks comes alive at night with a full bar and cocktail menu, live music and rumba-dancing. Shevere is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday, and has several burgers to choose from, as well as Venezuelan hot dogs and other Latin fare. The restaurant is open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Dress to impress and get ready to dance. 

Chamos Bar & Grill, 1109 South Mason: This family-friendly, pan-Latin establishment has one of the biggest menus on the list with multiple burgers and staple dishes from Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela available all day.

Dukes, 1420 South Mason: This neighborhood darling has the look and feel of a veteran franchise, but it’s (currently) an independent, family-owned restaurant serving great burgers, hot dogs, arepas, Venezuelan hoagies and more. Dukes is also family and vegan friendly, has ample parking and is open daily from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

La Maracucha burger at Arepas & Sand Wish. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
La Maracucha burger at Arepas & Sand Wish. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

Arepas & Sand Wish, 1922 Greenhouse Road: This counter-service restaurant with modern digs has indoor seating, plentiful parking and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. In addition to grilling up delicious burgers (and even shelling out for Black Forest ham!), Sand Wish offers an all-day menu that includes Creole breakfast, plated entrées (like pabellón criollo and Venezuelan barbecue), sandwiches, arepas, tacos and more, as well as coffee/espresso, shakes and fresh juices. Sand Wish even offers a significant selection of vegetarian items, in addition to tuna sandwiches and a minced chicken burger for the non-beef eaters in your party. Happy hour runs from 2 to 4 p.m. daily with 10% off all dishes.

Food Trucks: On the borders between Katy and Addicks/Park Ten you’ll find a number of food trucks with many excellent offerings, including Pa’ Maracaibo, D’todito TX, Big Vzla Burger, Sazon Maracucho, ChoriBurger, Maff Bites (which has stellar reviews for its burgers, loaded fries and salchipapas) and Carlito’s Fast Food TX. The latter offers a very Instagrammable flagship item called the Full Moon Burger — a mountain of a burger that takes an already over-the-top concept and turns it up to 11. It will set you back less than $20.

Mid-West Houston (Woodlake/Briarmeadow)

Chinita Lago y Puente, 7919 Westheimer: This late-night food truck ups the burger ante by adding extra proteins like pernil (slow-roasted pork butt) and carne mechada (seasoned, shredded-beef cooked with onions and peppers) on top of everything listed above. If you’ve never had a Venezuelan burger before, there is a very good chance you will drop some exclamatory expletives when your food arrives. Just remember: there may be young children in your vicinity.

Energy Corridor

Don't skip out on an order of pastelitos and tequeños from Pastelitos Cafe. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
Don’t skip out on an order of pastelitos and tequeños from Pastelitos Cafe. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

For those in the Energy Corridor looking for a lunchtime fix, Pastelitos Cafe at 1809 Eldridge offers the aptly-named Heavenly Burger with potato sticks, shredded cheese, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and house sauce. Bringing back an order of Venezuelan treats and breakfast snacks pastelitos, empanadas and tequeños is sure to make you an office hero. Pastelitos recently began offering dinner on Friday and Saturday as well. 

Spring

The Primo's Classic Burger at Primo's Venezuelan Street Food. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
The Primo’s Classic Burger at Primo’s Venezuelan Street Food. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

Primo’s Venezuelan Street Food, 3835 Louetta: This fast-casual restaurant next to the Louetta Food Mart offers some of my favorite Venezuelan burgers. The Primo’s Classic adds corn and a fried egg into the mix, and if you’re really hungry, the Super Primo’s Burger stacks a grilled chicken breast, fried egg AND a pork chop on top of everything else for only $13.49. Primo’s also has a food truck at the Gosling Food Truck Park. 

Gosling Food Truck Park, 24600 Gosling: This small food truck park highlights international cuisine from Latin and South America. It’s home to multiple Venezuelan burger trucks including Bite and Sauce Houston and Maracaibo Street Food. The park has shared patio tables and covered seating. It is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 

Bocados Burger & Grill: This trendy food truck, located in the Gosling Food Truck Park, delivers some of the best-value Venezuelan burgers around, with several under $10. Here you can also choose from loaded patacones, slider burgers, hot dogs, empanadas and more. 

Arepa Xpress, 4334 FM 2920: Burgers may not be the focus at this family-owned café, but El Americano should be more than enough to scratch that particular itch. It’s a towering affair with fresh-ground beef, potato sticks, egg, plátanos maduros, bacon and a huge hunk of queso blanco. You can’t go wrong with the other specialities here which include stuffed arepas and patacones, plated entrées and cachitos — which are similar to Texas-style kolaches.

Tomball

Callejero Fast Food, 18712 Huffsmith Koh: This dinner-only food trailer is open seven days a week. Callejero is known for its especially saucy burgers, overstuffed arepas and crispy chicken sandwiches

Fritos y Mas, 11709 Boudreaux: Owner Marcial Vilchez and his parents opened this new Latin and South American fast-food restaurant this past February. Here you can enjoy burgers and hot dogs as well as tequeños, pastelitos, mondongo and sweet, refreshing raspadas.

Porter, New Caney & Kingwood

The eponymous Goku's Burger. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
The eponymous Goku’s Burger. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

The Food Zone, 23242 FM 1314: This food truck park off FM 1314 in Porter hosts numerous vendors serving Puerto Rican, Honduran and Mexican trucks, such as Goku’s Burger, which specializes in anime-themed burgers featuring a “fusion dance” of ingredients. Houston has loads of options for Mexican burgers as well, which are burgers that cross-utilize ingredients from tacos and tortas as toppings. 

The Food Zone Grand Texas, 23020 Speed Street: This is the second Food Zone park from owner Jesse Flores. Grand Texas opened on May 5 near the Speedsportz Racing Park in New Caney. This park differs in that all of the vendors operate out of shipping container kitchens surrounding a green space and stage meant for live music, sports event screenings and more. The Grand Texas will be home to the second location of Fran’s Bakery, a Venezuelan eatery that features burger specials. 

Tostones Slider Burgers at Tostonio's Puerto Rican Fusion. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
Tostones Slider Burgers at Tostonio’s Puerto Rican Fusion. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

Tostonio’s Puerto Rican Fusion: While not strictly Venezuelan, this Latin-fusion burger pop-up serves at bars and breweries across Montgomery County (and is absolutely invited to the cookout). The Tostones Slider Burgers are the marquee item here. Grilled beef patties are served between two crispy tostones along with lettuce, tomatoes, deli ham and special sauce. In the Chicago area you’ll find comparable sandwiches called jibaritos that also use fried green plantains instead of bread and have similar toppings. For any readers curious about trying jibaritos, check out Latino Bites Express in Pearland. 

Washington Avenue Coalition/Memorial Park

The Choriburger and an order of tequeños from Tasty Arepa. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
The Choriburger and an order of tequeños from Tasty Arepa. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

Tasty Arepa, 5002 Washington: This food truck offers a mix of Colombian and Venezuelan street foods available for delivery or walk-up orders from guests enjoying the nearby nightlife. The Choriburger is served with a beef and pork chorizo patty, lettuce, caramelized onions, tomato, bacon, potato chips, sliced deli ham, mozzarella, pineapple sauce, blueberry sauce and pink sauce. Not to be confused with Filipino chori burgers, this version is a riff on choripán, which is the name of a type of beef and pork sausage roll popular across South America. These sausage sandwiches have a family tree worthy of another article, but in this one, they’re brought up mostly because of their relationship to Venezuelan hot dogs and burgers. These hot dogs, known as “asquerositos” or “perros con todos”, are an offshoot of choripán that include toppings identical to Venezuelan (and Brazilian) burgers and as such, are almost guaranteed to share menu space alongside their burger counterparts. 

Multiple Locations

El Kourmet: The owners of this arepa bar and Venezuelan street food joint brought their flavorful, authentic recipes with them when they moved to Texas from Mérida, Venezuela and opened the first El Kourmet in 2015. Owner José Vielma and his family have since expanded to three locations: the original food truck in Spring, as well as restaurants in Cinco Ranch and north Katy. 

The Venezolana burger at Sabor Venezolano. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
The Venezolana burger at Sabor Venezolano. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

Sabor Venezolano: This small, regional brand from Miami has 10 locations, including two in the Houston area. One is located in Katy, at 25830 Westheimer Parkway, and the other at 9296 Westheimer. Sabor is known for its hot dogs, burgers, tequeños and more. The burgers here are the messiest on the list, requiring flatware and a half dozen paper towels to manage. This is where the wings of Icarus begin to catch fire. Among the collection of sports memorabilia decorating the walls, you’ll also find a small grocery section with dry goods and refrigerated and frozen food so you can make your own burgers at home.

Another Miami-based concept, Pincho Burgers + Kebabs is betting on the burgeoning Venezuelan burger craze with the first of six planned Houston area locations set to open in Cypress this month off Barker Cypress and West Road, followed by locations in West Houston and The Woodlands slated for later this year. Pincho is adding a local touch with buns from Bread Man Baking Co. 

And there you have it! If you’ve made it through to the end of this guide, you should now be well-versed and hungry enough to go forth and reward yourself with a burger of your very own! The cuisine of Venezuela has much to offer, and hopefully this will also act as a flavorful segue into exploring more traditional fare. If you have a favorite spot that I’ve left out, feel free to sound off in the comments.

Comments (2)

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  • June 17, 2023 at 1:02 pmJosh Armendariz

    Really enjoyed this write up. This is such a big city full of different cuisines and you’ve introduced me to one that I can’t wait to explore. Going to need to start a Houston Food Finder running club after this lol!

    Reply
  • June 13, 2023 at 9:40 amYohanattan

    Thank you very much for your review, for us it is a privilege to serve the entire Latin American community, we feel very motivated by this type of review and we will continue to do our best so that you continue to taste our gastronomy; delicious hamburgers, good service and human quality with which we characterize ourselves..

    Reply