One of the most famous food influencers in Houston will soon make the leap to become a food creator. Abbas Dhanani, better known as houstoneatz, has started his own smash burger pop-up that he calls Burger Bodega.
With over 100,000 followers on TikTok and 25,000 followers on Instagram, Dhanani has become a go-to place for finding Houston’s best food trucks, spicy chicken sandwiches, and other street food favorites. He has also campaigned for Houston’s growing pop-up scene by attending events and putting the participating chefs in the spotlight.
During the day, he works with his family’s business, Sugar Land-based Dhanani Group, which operates hundreds of franchise restaurants including Burger King and Popeyes, as well as Cyclone Anaya’s and La Madeline. This combination of appreciation and operator made Dhanani consider starting his own business.
“I love the family business,” Dhanani told CultureMap. If I didn’t have a family background in the fast food business, I wouldn’t do that because I know I can run a good business. “
He also loves burgers – both when eating and preparing them. At family events, sometimes attended by 100 or more people, he could be seen at the frying pan serving pies. Finally, intrigued by the smash burger movement that recently swept Los Angeles and New York, he saw an opportunity to bring his version to Houston.
“There are chains that do that, but we didn’t have a local concept that focused on smash burgers,” he says. “I thought, with my burger background and the void for smash burgers, I see it as a great opportunity.”
The Burger Bodega formula is pretty simple: good beef, mashed on a griddle, with cheese, grilled onions, cucumber and “bodega sauce” served on a Martins potato roll. After traveling to both LA and New York to study different concepts and test different recipes, Dhanani has drawn some conclusions about what makes a successful smash burger.
“The cooking method is important, and good beef is important,” he says. “If you put these two things in a nutshell, a regular cheeseburger ends up being pretty good.”
Dhanani will introduce Burger Bodega to the public on Sunday, September 19th in the East End Backyard, the popular terrace bar of soccer star Brian Ching. The event takes place from 2 p.m. until sold out. More pop-ups – possibly with a second sandwich that would better match the concept’s name – and a stationary restaurant are in his plans.
“I always had in the back of my mind to develop my own burger concept,” says Dhanani. “Whether that works or not, I don’t want to look back 20 years and wonder why I didn’t. I have the feeling that now is a good time, like any other. “