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3 A.M. Whataburger Confessions from Austin Chefs

Late night fast food cravings.

Nadia Chaudhury/EATX
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

Whataburger is always there for the hungry. Eater asked Austin chefs, bartenders, and other restaurant-related people for their best late night Whataburger stories. Read on to learn how to construct the perfect super early morning order, get through a terrifying cricket invasion, how to react to seeing a certain glam metal singer’s limo in the drive thru, and way more.

Erica Waksmunski, owner and chef of Red Star Southern
I lived way out on FM 969 when I first moved here. Many nights after service at Congress, I would be tired, slightly buzzed, and starving. I would stop (more frequently than I'd like to admit) at the Whataburger at MLK and Airport Blvd. to get a sausage biscuit with mayonnaise and grape jelly (classy right??).

I was completely unaware of the cricket infestation that happens here every summer, until one night. I was pulling in to get my disturbing-to-most-but-awesome-to-me snack and the entire parking lot looked like it was moving. I started to feel the popping and cracking of running over multiple large insects under my tires. I HATE bugs, and am also terrified of them. I managed to crack my window just enough to place my order and not allow any winged terrors to attack.

When I got to the window however, I had to put my window down enough to grab my bag of shame. As soon as the hand-off began, the bag was COMPLETELY covered in the disgusting bugs. Both the window girl and myself began screaming, the bag dropped to the ground, and I mashed the gas pedal hard enough to squeal the tires. I was practically in tears the rest of the way home. I've still never been back to a Whataburger. Completely traumatized.

Jason Stevens, bar manager of Bar Congress
Sometimes I’m getting off work past 3 a.m., and at that time of night (or morning), the line between dinner and breakfast gets a little gray. My food choices reflect that, and I occasionally find myself at a Whataburger having taquitos with French fries, or a burger with hash brown sticks. The straightforward menu items are great, but my favorite late night Whataburger meal takes a few steps. For this, you’ve got to order two items:

Item #1: Pancake Platter (with bacon) with extra syrup on the side.
Item #2: Three piece a la carte Whatachick’n Strips (sauce doesn’t matter).

It’s a simple set-up. Lay a piece of bacon on a pancake, followed by a single chicken strip, then pour syrup over on top. Finally, fold the topped pancake into a taco and eat. It may not be pretty, but it’s damn fine for 3 a.m.

Tom Micklethwait, owner and pitmaster of Micklethwait Craft Meats
One time, I watched Bret Michaels' limo hit the Whataburger drive thru after he played a show in Jackson, Mississippi. I thought that was pretty funny at the time. A hair metal god's fall from grace.

Sarah McIntosh, owner and chef of Épicerie
There was a 24-hour Whataburger in Shreveport, Louisiana, that I would go to all the time in high school. It was basically the only place opened 24 hours. That’s probably the last time I went to Whataburger.

Jack Gilmore, owner and chef of Jack Allen’s Kitchen
When we were first opening the Round Rock location of Jack Allen’s Kitchen a couple of years ago, I drove to the Whataburger in Cedar Park, pretty late at night, around 2-3 a.m. When I pulled up to the drive thru, I had to turn off my truck because they couldn't hear my order over the engine. So I placed my order, paid, and then waited. And fell asleep. A guy came up to the window of my car and had to wake me up!

Evan LeRoy, pitmaster and chef of Freedman’s
Luckily, I didn't have to miss Whataburger when I went to college at Florida State as there was a bright, shining, orange and white roofed beacon just down the street from my apartment. I recall more than one occasion where I was served the wrong order, but ate half of it anyway in a drunken hunger rage. Then I would ask for my corrected order, receiving 1.5 burgers or B.O.B.'s for the price of one.

Todd Duplechan, owner of Lenoir and Métier
I moved from Texas to Colorado when I was 18 to go to school. In Colorado, they don’t have Whataburger, which is a terrible thing. A good buddy of mine (who is from Austin and who I went to culinary school with) and I would always lament about not having Whataburger. So whenever we would go home for Thanksgiving back to Texas, we would figure out where the first one was. We would literally built our entire route to find the first Whataburger.

Deana Saukam, media and events director of Qui & East Side King
One drunken late night, I persuaded my Uber driver to roll through the Whataburger drive thru before heading to my place. When we got to Whataburger, there was an 18-wheeler parked in the drive thru making deliveries or something, so we couldn't go through.

My Uber driver then parked the car and said he'd wait for me to come back, but I didn't want to go in drunk and alone, so he came in with me and waited in a booth with me until I got my order. I offered to buy him dinner but he wasn't hungry so I got him a root beer. I think I remember my Whataburger being delicious.

Daniel Brown, owner and pitmaster of Brown’s Bar-B-Que
Leaving downtown after a night on the city, Whataburger was alway that spot before home. My wife would always have to pee. As we pulled up, she would run inside while I'd wait in drive thru.

Well, one night, she couldn't make it and stopped outside the car door. At that same time, a police cruiser pulls up. She did some ninja move with her ankles bounded with clothing into the bushes and was unseen!

[For orders,] I'd get double meat plan with cheese and put my fries on my burger with ketchup. Yum! She'd get a grilled cheese sandwich that wasn't on menu.

Mando Rayo, taco journalist
During high school every Friday night, I would lace up my black suede BK Knights and walk to Whataburger. Growing up in El Paso, my shift was the graveyard shift at Whataburger in Ysleta. So from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., I would make the best damn burgers this side of the Pecos.

We did have a lot of crazy nights, but my favorite part of the night was lunchtime at 4 a.m. I would make a mega-Whataburger that included a beef patty topped over a chicken patty topped over a beef patty, triple cheese, grilled onions, jalapeños, and boom! I was set for the rest of the shift till 7 a.m.

I worked hard, saving up for that Camaro that I could never afford, smelled like Whataburger for the next seven days but it was worth it. In Texas, there's no burger like a Whataburger.


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