In a small, unassuming building in downtown Kilgore, Char-Burger Stockade makes one of the oldest and best hamburgers in East Texas.

Sisters Kourtney McDonald and Kayla Wade are carrying on the family business passed down from their father, Johnny Wade, who owned Char-Burger for about three decades.

“We grew up in the restaurant but we didn’t really work here before my dad passed away, so we had to come in and learn everything,” McDonald said. “This restaurant was so important to him and we just wanted to keep it going.”

The roots of Char-Burger date back to 1972 when the restaurant was started by Aldeen Barbee.

Johnny Wade purchased the business in the 1980s. With hand-pattied beef, fresh toppings and a variety of options, Char-Burger quickly became a favorite among Kilgorites.

Wade passed away in 2014, at which point his daughters took over running Char-Burger. McDonald said she and her sister plan to continue running the business just as their father did.

They pick up fresh meat each day from Clower’s Meat Market in Kilgore and cook all food to order.

Char-Burger’s menu is extensive. The classic cheeseburger (the No. 10) features cheese, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato and mustard. The most popular burger is the chili cheeseburger (the No. 3), which features chili, onions, cheese and Char-Burger’s fan favorite smoke sauce.

Char-Burger Stockade is located at 206 N. Kilgore St. in downtown Kilgore. The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; it’s closed on Sunday. For information, visit

To learn more about other East Texas hamburger joints, check out ETX View magazine’s Burger Bucket List at


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