The Hold Up – Burger Time at the Holding Pen

In the one year that Hog & Hominy has been open, it has quickly become one of my favorite places to eat in the world. At once it is both extremely high-level and easily accessible. From brunch to hot dogs to sweetbreads to tasting menus to pizzas that are great hot and allegedly better when eaten cold out of one’s fridge the next day, this place has been killing it from day one. I’ve liked everything that I’ve ever had there, so imagine the excitement when the word started to get out about the Holding Pen, their new dive bar located on the H&H back patio (see Pamela Denney’s article in May’s Memphis Magazine).

The key piece to the whole thing was going to be the John T. Edge hamburger that is only available Thursday-Saturday nights after 9pm. This was huge, as we now had two of Memphis’ best chefs working on their version of the tried and true classic. Or, just another reason for me to head out to Brookhaven on the even-more regular. So that’s what we did last weekend.

Holding Pen 1 - sign

The first thing that you notice is that the Holding Pen is accessible via secret bookcase door in the back of Hog & Hominy, which is awesome, obviously. Then you get out there and find that they’ve covered the patio, added some huge sliding barn doors on the back, and put up at least one growl towel for every win the Grizzlies had last year. A nice mural backs the bar, and they’ve got classic tunes pumping through the record player.

Menu options are limited to hamburgers and a few specials. While we were there they had a Frito pie in the crockpot, boiled peanuts, a couple of cheap beers, and a pitcher full of a special cocktail. It would be like if you went to your friends house for a pool party. Is there a better compliment of the Andrew/Michael family of restaurants than to say that whenever I go, I always feel like I’ve gone to a friends house? With the caveat being that these friends are extremely good cooks.

My party of four ordered up four burgers and some drinks before heading into H&H for a late night dinner. Here are a couple of them.

Holding Pen 2 - Burgers

Amazing. This burger is completely unpretentious and totally delicious. It is an Oklahoma style burger, meaning that it is cooked on a flat grill with onions pressed into the excellent Claybrook Farms meat before the first flip. This caramelizes the onions and maintains moisture in the patty. Since it is cooked hot and flat, the meat is just the right amount of crisp on the outside while being the right temperature on the inside. Add some melted cheese and the coup de grace, which is pickled lettuce, and then slap it all on a simple, cheap bun, and you are on fire.

Holding Pen 3 - Close up

I highly recommend reading Leslie Kelly’s article on Serious Eats about this burger, the reason it is named after the head of the Southern Foodways Alliance, and the time that Thomas Kellar told Andy and Mike that they are the future and not to “f it up.”

It was a long wait from May when I heard about the burger until last week, but it was worth the wait, as most things are when Andy and Mike and their team are involved. So, look for me on any Thursday-Saturday night, I’m sure I’ll see you there!


You want to go to there:

The Holding Pen on the Hog & Hominy back patio
707 W Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117

Reminder – The Holding Pen opens earlier, but the burger is only available on Thurs-Sat after 9pm. Worth the wait.


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