THE QUEST STARTS HERE
The Quest is structured with five divisions – ten places in each division. If you recall “Quests are Hard” and must be continually tweaked for fairness and logistics. Identifying the divisions became our first issue.
The obvious was Division 1, Division 2, etc. since we tried ten to start then another ten and another ten and so on. One of our smarter critics (Tricia or Deb) pointed out that the use of numbers would give a perceived advantage to Division 1. So a numbering system was eliminated. Next one of the simpler critics (Will or Matt) suggested A, B, C, D, E. In retrospect that was kind of stupid. Who would want a “C” burger when an “A” was available? Letters were jettisoned. Mascots were considered – Horned Frogs, Bears, Aggies, Longhorns. Seriously? Three out of four of us are UT grads and the fourth was given honorary status after she knew the names of the backup offensive linemen and owned more than six burnt orange items of clothing. Do you think we would be unbiased?
So we settled on Colors – Red, White, Blue, Green and Yellow
THE STORY OF THE RED DIVISION
We don’t visit restaurants in any particular order. We might head to Deep Ellum or Bishop Arts when we have more time to spend. If it’s a weekday with time restraints we might stay closer to our North Dallas homes. In no particular order the ten in the Red Division became:
- Rodeo Goat in the Design District – http://www.rodeogoat.com
- Stock & Barrel in Bishop Arts – www.stockandbarreldallas.com
- Angry Dog in Deep Ellum – www.angrydog.com
- Luscher’s Red Hot in Deep Ellum – http://www.luschers.com
- Pints & Quarts where Lower Greenville meets Ross Avenue – http://www.psandqsdallas.com
- JC’s Burger – several locations – http://www.jcsburgerhouse.com
- Pat & Mike’s – it doesn’t matter where it was, it’s closed its doors already
- Village Burger Bar – Shops of Legacy – www.villageburgerbar.com
- Jack Mac Swill & Grill on Preston somewhere around Frankford –http://www.jackmacs.com
- Wingfield’s Breakfast & Burgers:
Matt, Tricia, Wingfield’s Chef, Will & Deb at Wingfield’s Texas State Fair booth
THE RATINGS BEGIN
The rating system is pretty simple. We each give an overall rank to the burger – 1 through 10 with 1 being the best. Matt keeps an undecipherable spreadsheet with formulas, algorithms and geometry factors. I think it just averages our four scores. In the end the burger with the lowest average number gets the number 1 position. When the place has a signature burger or only one burger we order it. When there are several kinds we ask our waiter for the most popular one OR order two of each of their best burgers and split them so we all sample both.
In reverse order (suspense building) the Red Division results:
9. Jack Mac Swill & Grill – Jack Mac has the distinction of being the first place we visited. Unfortunately that’s its only honor.
8. Pints & Quarts – Quirky location. We sampled Dale’s Revenge – “Crispy onion strings, habanero cheese, chunky guacamole, Applewood smoked bacon and Dale’s secret sauce. Good burger but not memorable. With the location and poor seating it’s doubtful we’ll be back.
7. Village Burger Bar – Multiple locations, we ate at the Shops of Legacy location. Good enough burger that we’d go back before or after a movie at the Angelika. We wouldn’t travel there though specifically to get a burger. Good ambience and beer selection with local beers. It was full of patrons enjoying themselves.
6. JC’s Burger – Multiple locations. We may have gone to the least desirable location. This one is next to Pappy’s Pet Lodge. Burger joints should not be next to dog hotels. We will probably try JC’s again but at a different location. We’d recommend you do the same. JC’s is ranked here based on previous visits and the word of Matt & Tricia so its ranking is in flux.
5. Angry Dog – One of Dallas’s better known burger joints. Best known though doesn’t make it the best burger. Full disclosure – Angry Dog is across the street from # 1 Luscher’s and we had them both on the same night. Probably not fair to Angry Dog. We loved the place, the bar and the beer selection. It also has live music, something most of our burger joints don’t have. Angry Dog is a worthy destination restaurant to hang out in but the burger disappoints. Good but not top ten.
4. Stock & Barrel – Wagyu is perceived as such a premium beef that the mere mention of it in a burger sends it soaring. That must have been what got it to the top of some lists. You still have to do what it takes to make it a good burger and they mostly did. Will had it as high as #3 on his list but it didn’t fare as well with Matt and Trish who had it 8 and 9. It comes with a house made tomato jam. Get it on the side, it won’t appeal to many. Service was the slowest we’ve had and there weren’t many patrons there that Sunday.
3. Wingfield’s – this one requires a short story: Wingfield’s is on South Beckley in Oak Cliff but that’s not where we enjoyed their fabulous burger. Wingfield’s had a stand at the great Texas State Fair. Matt & Tricia went to the Fair three times in one week and had a Wingfield’s burger every time. Without all four of us eating together though those visits didn’t count. So during that same week all four of us visited the Fair for an official tasting. For those of you counting – yes, Matt & Tricia had Wingfield’s four times in five days! This #3 rating is killing Matt as he had Wingfield’s first on his list (Will had it as his #9 pick, #5 for Deb and #3 for Tricia). Only the top two in each division go on to the finals so Wingfield’s is left on the outside. Don’t be surprised if it somehow sneaks in though. Matt is doing some heavy lobbying. It still might make it through on a technicality. Since we tasted it at the Fair it was probably not its’ best effort. The ambiance of its’ quirky little shop and the seasoned griddle there would make the original shine in comparison to the one served at the temporary Fair location. We’ve agreed to revisit the original and give it another chance. When we do we will offer a more detailed review
N/A – Pat & Mike’s (RIP) – Pat & Mike’s fared well, originally coming in #3. Sadly though, it doesn’t matter – they have closed the doors. It’s now a seafood place. Pat is Pat Snuffer from the eponymous (and famous) Snuffer’s. The menu was so similar it was hard to tell the difference. If you were a Pat & Mike’s fan just go back to Snuffer’s. We will sub in a replacement for Pat & Mikes will be replaced with another, to date undecided, candidate.
2. Rodeo Goat – The original Rodeo Goat is in Fort Worth but you should thank your lucky stars they have opened a location in the Design District. They have an excellent list of burgers. Our server recommended their top seller – the Chupacabra. Wow! A mix of beef and chorizo gave a unique and tasty patty topped with smoked lime – cilantro aioli, roasted Hatch chiles, Queso Asadero, jalapeño croutons and guacamole. This bad boy is not for the weak but a true blooded Texan will go back time and again to savor this soon to be classic. Muy Bueno! Matt & Deb tried the Royale and Tricia sampled the Nanny Goat and loved them as well. You can’t go wrong with a Rodeo Goat burger. Side note: Thankfully we didn’t see goat on the menu.
1. Luscher’s Red Hot –Luscher’s is rated highly on many other Top Ten lists and it’s numero uno on ours (Red Division) as well. It’s not well known around town due to it’s Deep Ellum location. There’s still a large number of Dallas people that don’t do Deep Ellum. They are missing something special. Deep Ellum is loaded with good food and entertainment. The stand out Red Hots (hot dog/franks) are featured in the name. They serve a half a dozen versions of franks from Chicago to Poland. Try the signature Post Oak Red Hot. We came though for the Uncle Herky Burger. IT IS AWESOME! Two wagyu beef patties, American cheese, mustard, mayo, grilled onions and horseradish pickles on a sesame seed bun. Be sure to add the thick cut peppered bacon. The burger is so juicy it just falls apart. Messy, but in the good way. Load up on napkins. So far this is our gold standard of burgers.
The Uncle Herky Burger
And there you have it – the Red Division. Luscher’s and Rodeo Goat move on to the finals. Next up – the White Division.