Who Says Fast Food Can’t Be Healthy? Meet Organic Fast Food in Austin


In Texas, we’ve got to have our beef. I feel funny just saying that because until about four months ago I had been a hardcore pescatarian for three and a half years. I gave up and started to let some types of meat re-enter my diet, mostly white meat, just turkey and chicken. But eating beef and being a Texan often go together, so sometimes I get the itch for red meat. And while fatty steaks with bones tend to freak me out, I usually go for the great American classic – the hamburger.

Hamburger options are endless in Austin, but it’s easy to fall into the fast food trap of processed, grain-fed cow meat, slathered in synthetic growth hormones. When I want a piece of Grade A beefy goodness, I look for the organic, grass-fed, free-range kind. And with more organic fast food burger joints popping up around town I can get a healthier version of my burger/shake/French fry fix.

Terra Burger is a local, all natural, all organic fast food joint with locations around UT and 183 and Braker Lane. The menu is simple, but assorted, with several burger, sandwich, salad, and breakfast options.

Terra Burger

Terra Burger

The folks at Terra Burger stay true to their No. 1 rule – no artificial and only 100% USDA Organic core ingredients including beef, veggie patties, cheese, milk, ice cream, and fruit. Period. Oh, and they are ecofriendly, meaning their plastic cups, utensils, and napkins are made of compostable stuff like corn and recycled goodies.

All of this comes at a hefty price – $5.95 for a frozen veggie patty (100% USDA Organic might I add), $3.95 for a milkshake made with organic ice cream, and another $2.95 for French fries, probably cooked in the most natural vegetable oil known to man.

Elevation Burger!

Elevation Burger!

Another option for the organic-conscious and ecofriendly fast food joint enthusiast is Elevation Burger. Nothing beats the taste of organic, grass-fed, free-range beef with cheese, special sauce (a.k.a. some kind of mayo, ketchup, and Thousand Island concoction), and a sweet, squishy bun (almost like Hawaiian bread). The burgers are cute, meaning smaller on first glance, but loaded with flavor and delicious toppings of your choice. Elevation Burger has a rather adventurous burger and topping menu: classic double meat, double cheese; vegetarian and vegan patty options; and the build-your-own “Vertigo Burger” where you can order three to 10 patties on a single burger. I order a simple cheeseburger with just one patty, but let loose with the toppings. They serve the classics – lettuce, tomato, mustard, and pickles – as well as caramelized onions, balsamic mustard, hot pepper relish, and Elevation (“special”) sauce.

A cute and tasty burger with Elevation sauce on the side.

A cute and tasty burger with Elevation sauce on the side.

Juicy caramelized onions and special sauce.

Juicy caramelized onions and special sauce.

And when I order a burger, it comes with a shake. Elevation lets you choose between chocolate, vanilla, and coffee ice cream with two fixins – choose from classic Oreo cookies, chocolate syrup, and strawberries or the less-ordinary shake items like key lime, guava, pineapple, or mango. I love mine with coffee ice cream and banana – 24 oz. of java-induced potassium. I call it the “banana sunrise.”

Coffee ice cream banana milkshake.

Coffee ice cream banana milkshake - I love you.

Even though beef is the only core organic ingredient, I really enjoy Elevation’s flare for flavor and variety. I also appreciate the commitment to sustainable construction and operation. Elevation Burger recycles, donates waste olive oil for conversion to biodiesel, and uses renewable, nonpolluting materials and surfaces in the facility. They are also working toward certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, a rare pursuit for the restaurant business.

Another up – Elevation Burger is a little easier on the wallet: $3.99 for a cheeseburger with all of the fixins and $3.89 for a mighty shake.

So if you love fast food but want to make your meals all organic, or even just the beef, maybe Terra or Elevation Burger is a good place to start. Just think of it as a healthier way to get your fast food fix.

Terra Burger
2522 Guadalupe Street
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 436-8570

Elevation Burger
Great Hills Market
9828 Great Hills Trail
Austin, TX
(512) 608-4054

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