Shop C, 66 Regent St
Redfern, NSW 2016
Remember Huxtaburger? If you’re from Melbourne, you’ll know it as the very first gourmet American-styled burger to hit the city – almost 10 years ago! – and was almost single-handedly responsible for ushering in the new era of quality burgers that we now take for granted.
So am I back in Melbourne then? Unfortunately not, but there is a silver lining here. Over the last decade, Huxtaburger has turned itself into a mini-empire, and is now slinging sandwiches across 9 locations and 3 states. And the NSW branch is in Redfern, though those who have been to the original Huxtaburger in Collingwood would find this location almost unrecognisable. Instead of a tiny diner with retro vibes and the bones of an old fish-and-chippery, this space is bright and homogenous, and could almost be part of a fast food chain. And I suppose it kind of is now.
In addition, the menu is also almost unrecognisable compared to 10 years ago. Whereas there only used to be 4 burgers and all of them beef, there are now over a dozen, including 5 distinctly different plant-based options. The sides have also been expanded to include all manner of things deep-fried, and there’s even a couple of desserts available if you didn’t want to go the thick shake route. Excuse me for sounding old, but things here sure ain’t what they used to be! And is that good or bad? Let’s find out:
My favourite burger has always been the Denise – a fiery concoction featuring jalapenos and sriracha mayo, but for old-time’s sake, I decided to go back to the classic Huxtaburger ($10.9) to see how it compared. The patty was neither as flavoursome nor as large as I remember, though this could just be the intervening years of countless good burgers clouding my memory. But although the beef was slightly on the dry side, it was remedied by the crunchy lettuce, and the liberal usage of mayo and tomato sauce. All up, a reasonable burger for the price, but I would definitely opt for the Kevin ($13.4) next time, which comes with a delightfully smoky rasher of bacon that did wonders to elevate the experience.
The burgers may have gone slightly downhill (though I can’t confirm if this is just due to my memory playing tricks on me), but the sides make for worthy compensation. First up was the Chicken Ribs ($5, 6pcs), which were coated in the most addictive southern-styled spice mix that’s every bit as salty and savoury as you’d hope. There was also a generous amount of meat on each rib, and the contrast between the hot, juicy chicken and nubbly golden batter stayed to the last bite.
But it was the Onion Rings ($6.5) that really knocked my socks off. Despite always preferring a tempura-styled batter, this panko crumb really impressed me with just how light and crunchy it was, and the way it complemented, rather than overwhelmed the sweetness of the onion. Finished with a light dusting of sea salt, these are likely the best onions rings I’ve ever had.
With just enough room left for dessert, we opted to share their itty bitty Sundae ($2.95), which was made up of a scoop of vanilla bean-flecked ice cream, Huxta Crunch, and a wickedly good chocolate sauce. Although simple, this hit the spot just right after a heavy meal.
Although unsurprising, I’m a little saddened to find that Huxtaburger has lost some of its soul through the expansions over the last 10 years. But it’s not all bad news. The burgers may be uninspiring, but the sides are fantastic, and it’s always nice to have more options. All up, I don’t think I’d go out of my way to come back, given how readily available excellent burgers are these days, but if I find myself in the area and craving a burger, I certainly wouldn’t say no. Plus, the onion rings beckon!
Rating: 12/20 – come for the onion rings, stay for the chicken ribs.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.