EL PASO, Texas – When it comes to big ol’ burgers in our great state, we’ve seen a lot but nothing like this. Before we get to this behemoth of a burger, we talked with Alan Ramirez, owner and creator of this El Paso eatery – Panda Burgers.
Alan’s creations are cosmic with toppings that only a mad scientist could come up with.
“I have people tell me, ‘Do you smoke something before you come up with the recipes?’” said Alan. “They do, they’re like, ‘Do you get the munchies?’ I’m like, no man…”
Because Alan is a family kind of guy. Ever since he was a boy he’s been working with his Mom and Pop. Even Grandpa Chito gets involved by preparing the freshly made aguas frescas.
The reason Alan keeps his family close is that he’s working with them since he was 12.
“It’s been 15 years of washing dishes, you know, washing, serving, cooking, you know you go through everything,” Alan said.
His father Alberto and mother Leticia owned a food truck in the 2000’s.
“My dad charging the customers, I was cooking and my mom was cooking also,” said Alan.
Alan learned the ropes of the business and one day decided to start making burgers of his own. Those burgers got a big enough reputation that he took a big risk and sunk everything his family had into opening Panda Burgers.
“When we opened the doors at 11, I told my parents, you know what guys, if it doesn’t work today, I don’t know what’s going to happen because we actually just have $17 in our bank account,” Alan said.
Slowly but surely word got out and now Panda Burgers is kung-fuing the competition.
Well we wanted to see what the rage was all about but before we get started, a quick disclaimer. NO. These burgers are NOT made out of panda.
“You’ll be surprised. We actually have some, like, comments on our Facebook page about how cruel we are of making burgers out of pandas,” said Alan. “And they’re serious, they actually think that we’re killing pandas and making them into burgers.”
Now let’s dive into the SUPER PANDA, a burger with overabundance of over-the-top toppings.
First Alan’s dad Alberto pre-seasons the 75/25 beef and hands forms the patties every morning. Two of those 7 ounce patties get placed on the flattop and topped with more savory spices.
“We get our secret seasoning actually that not even my parents know what’s in there,” Alan said. “It’s just me. So this is what makes Panda Burgers Panda Burgers.”
Garlic butter helps the burger cook while Alan gets things started on a quesadilla with Monterrey jack cheese and corn tortillas. Yes, this is going on the burger.
“A lot of people ask, ‘Does the quesadilla come inside like, or can I give it to my kid?’ And I was like, no…If you want a quesadilla for your kid, like, ask for a quesadilla,” said Alan. “Then again, just try the Panda Burger, no?”
After flipping the foundations of the burger, more butter and American cheese is added. The quesadilla goes on top and Alan’s mom takes over. Fresh chorizo, carne asada, and grilled onions are first. Half an avocado, mayo, and a chili toreado tops things off – and the final creation is a work of art.
“And that right there, my friend, is the Super Panda.” That is a work of art. “It is, huh?”
I’ve never made anything so beautiful with another man. “Wow.”
Look at that! A round of applause. “It’s for the burger. That’s when you know you need the burger.”
After sizing up the burger, it was time to dig in. It didn’t take long to figure out that the drive across Texas was worth it!
“When it comes to the ingredients, you know, your avocado, your meat, they don’t hold back, okay? They’re not skimpy,” said Kareem Cajer, customer at Panda Burgers.
Every bite, something different. Every roll of the tongue, something new. The chorizo is amazingly fresh, so delicious, and it all comes together with all those flavorings. You have the carne asada, and then out of nowhere you start feeling that little crunch, and then you realize, you just bit into a quesadilla in the middle of a burger!
Well, if you’ve ever pondered how perfect a panda burger would taste in your pie-hole, just put this in there and you’ll be pleased.
Being successful in his endeavor mean more to Alan then just feeding the masses with out of this world food, it’s a chance to give back to the people who have supported him from day one and continue to believe in their boy’s ability.
“That’s my reason to keep going, you know? My parents, because I’m the only child and they do everything for me, so I think it’s actually time for me to do something for them,” Alan said. “So we just love what we do. It’s been our dream and it’s finally coming through, and we’re just happy to be here and we are, like I said, we’re really thankful.”
The Super Panda at Panda Burgers in El Paso, Texas, well worth a panda pit-stop right here on The Texas Bucket List.
“You only live once, so you’ve got one time to do something, and if it’s that one place that you want to eat and enjoy good food, okay, get your money’s worth and get full, this is the place to be,” said Kareem.