The Burger Hunters – Tricia, Matt, Deb & Will
Blue is our third division. We’ve now sampled 30 burger joints. That’s a lot of burgers! Honestly, some of us doubted we’d get this far. Now that we are well past halfway there is no chance we’ll stop. We’re in it till the end.
Luscher’s and Rodeo Goat advanced to the finals from the Red Division. Liberty Burger and Boulevardier joined them from the White. We each get to add one Wild Card pick so there is the chance Wingfield’s and/or Snuffer’s might make it in with Matt’s or Deb’s picks. Wild Cards won’t be determined until we get through all five divisions.
From bottom to top:
#10 Twisted Root – Multiple Locations
|Twisted Root has a large selection of burgers. The menu and four of them pictured above. The Western is a non-descript burger patty with bacon, onion rings, pepper jack cheese and jalapenos. The menu clearly says their burgers are cooked medium well. We all forgot to change our orders to medium rare so we got them the standard. To be fair to our readers we thought it might be much better if we had ordered medium rare, which we all know is the way every burger should be cooked. To test it we ordered one more burger medium rare. The request must have been more than the kitchen could handle. It came out bloody red. Loved the rustic look of the place but the tables are so packed in that it’s difficult to get around when busy. The fries and thin cut onion rings were quite good. Fried pickles were very good but would be better with a little less salt (and I love salt). The pickle bar is a clever touch. Twisted Root sauces on each table are excellent. Buffalo burgers are always available and they have a wide variety of game meats available during the year (not all at one time).|
#9 Neighborhood Services – 5100 Beltline
|This is another that disappointed considering all the build up. Will liked it better than the rest of us. We thought the cheese was bleu cheese while eating it. Found out after it was aged cheddars. This has happened once before at Armoury DE where we thought an aged or sharp cheddar was bleu cheese. Doesn’t say much for our palate or discernment. Whatever – we’re evidently not wild about sharp cheddar on a burger. The cheese takes over the burger as the primary taste. The Butcher’s Burger is an 80-20 burger made with a mix of chuck and brisket. The brisket may not have been ground enough for Tricia, she thought there was something “hard” in the patty. Will tends to like burgers juicy enough to make it hard to keep it all together. To do that the bun has to be able to handle it. This one didn’t. At the end I had a gooey mess in my hand. The fries were very disappointing. Good, yes, but we expected great. Any time you call French Fries “sea-salted Russet frites” they better be some damn good fries to warrant the uppity name. They come out looking great – slightly bigger than matchstick size and browned well. But they were LIMP! Crisp them up a little and they’d really be good. We asked the waiter if these were just an anomoly and they are normally crispier. Unfortunately not. Deb ordered medium rare and it came out almost raw. Strange because Tricia and I ordered it the same way and ours were fine. We ate outside and there were ants crawling all over the table.|
#8 Jonathan’s Oak Cliff – 1111 N Beckley
|Full disclosure – we sampled Jonathan’s after going to the State Fair so we were somewhat less than hungry. Loved the place but not so much the Nooner, their best known burger. The patty was tasteless and overdone. The taste probably impacted by the cooking. Dumping a whole bunch of stuff on top made the Nooner taste more like a breakfast sandwich than any kind of burger. We mentioned the cooking to the waitress. She agreed and said she’d have the manager stop by our table. Very nice guy but he didn’t come till after we were finished. Will was the lone wolf with the Nooner. The other three liked the House Burger. The Blue Cheese Slaw was excellent with big chunks of blue cheese. Going to have to learn how to make it for BBQ’s at home. We here the rest of the menu is worth a trip. Can’t say the same for the burger.|
#7 Keller’s Drive In – Multiple Locations –
no website we could find
Will had Keller’s #3 in this division but admits to fudging a little to get it there. It’s a Dallas institution! The rest of the Burger Hunters ranked it no higher than #6. The burger is good but not great. Been there 50 years so it has to be doing something VERY well. Love the tots. Love the drive up and car hops. LOVE the price. This is another one that would be high on the list of value burgers.
#6 Armoury DE – Deep Ellum
Any review of Armoury DE should start with the fries. Armoury has the best fries Will’s eaten and top tier for Matt, Tricia and Deb. The place looks like a movie set for for a 1940’s flick. Dark with a huge wooden bar and a wall of spirits. Deb called it “very Deep Ellumy”. Enormous drink menu. There is one burger on the menu – The Damn Burger. It’s good but not “damn good”. ” Half a pound of short rib & brisket blend, 4 year aged Widmer cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, mason pickles on a Challah bun. You can add an egg or pecan smoked bacon for a buck fifty or duck bacon for $3.00. Almost had to try duck bacon as it would be our first. The patty is loosley packed – not quite fall apart loose. Just the way Will likes it. All four of us thought the Widmer Cheddar was too sharp for a burger. Two of us initially thought it tasted like blue or goat cheese. The Challah bun was a bit stale. With just a little tweaking the Damn Burger would have warranted a higher rank.
#5 Grub Burger Bar – Multiple Locations
|The Lockhart Legend – Applewood smoked bacon, mild cheddar cheese, Dr Pepper BBQ sauce, two onion rings (one too many) & sliced dill pickles $8.50. This was a good burger – worthy enough for going back if you’re in the neighborhood. It’s a clone of Hopdoddy’s though and we’re kind of partial to Hopdoddy’s because of its’ Austin roots. We all thought the burgers were overcooked. The toasted bun is exceptional. Interesting side note. They bake their buns every hour in house. They’ll occasionally bake too many before the next batch comes out. Rather than use less than fresh buns or throw them out they package up these perfectly good buns and leave them up front. As you are leaving you can make a donation to charity (they pick among several) and take a dozen to go.|
#4 Ida Claire – 5001 Beltline
|We love the look and ambience of Ida Claire – it’s just a cool place. One of the best places to go for fun as well as a good burger. Good but not great. Ida Claire is a sister restaurant to Whiskey Cake. A couple of the Best Burger Hunters think a messy burger is a bad thing but messy burger generally means a juicy burger. Juicy burgers are better than dry burgers. A hearty bun can handle a juicy burger. Ida Claire didn’t have one. They use a sweet potato bun but we didn’t get a hint of sweet potato. Our waiter said they use an 80/20 ratio for the patty. He “thought” it was a mixture of brisket and chuck. There wasn’t enough confidence expressed though to run with it. We tried a bite of the patty on it’s own – I don’t know a better word but it wasn’t “melt in your mouth”. We were all excited about the house made pimento cheese but were disappointed. If we hadn’t seen a little speck of pimento we wouldn’t have known it was there. Black pepper aioli would have benefited from a little more pepper. When I could taste the pepper it made the aioli shine. We haven’t been very complimentary about the individual components of the burger but when put together they somehow make a pretty good burger. If they’d tweak it a little it would have risen in the ranks. When we go back (we will) we’ll try other menu items. Maybe we’ve become burger snobs but there are better burgers out there. We’ll go to those places for burgers and enjoy other offerings on Ida Claire’s menu. The sweet potato fries had excellent taste but were a little limp and chewy. Most of the Hunters liked the crawfish corn beignets with smoked mustard remoulade. It’s one of the most popular appetizers so they must be right. Excellent presentation served on one of your grandmother’s plates with chips in a miniature wash tub.|
#3 Burger Bueno – 13021 Coit Road
Muy bueno! Burger Bueno was reviewed in the previous post – “We Found a Diamond in the Rough”. Try it, you’ll like it. Here’s a shot of the funky location on Coit with the lovely Deb trying to decide between the Mercedes and the Hyundai we came in.
#2 The Porch – 2912 N. Henderson
|Great burgers. Will liked the Stodg (named after a prominent Dallas attorney) but the rest of the group gave the nod to the Classic. The Stodg combines it all and tops it with a fried egg. The yolk falls off the side making for a very messy sandwich but in a good way. Cooked to perfection (see the pic of it cut in half). As good as the burger was the sides were on the complete opposite end of the scale. The chips weren’t even edible and tasted of oil. Beer batter onion rings were not seasoned, tasteless and onions were tough. Sea salt fries had a good taste but were ordered extra crispy and came out limp. Mac & cheese was sublime. Spend the extra couple of dollars to get it as a side and forget the rest.|
#1 The Grape – 2808 Greenville Ave
|We’ve been waiting for this one since the get go. The Grape is on everyone’s Top Ten List and ranked #1 on Texas Monthly’s “50 Greatest Burgers in Texas”. Pretty lofty praise. It didn’t disappoint – it was #1 on each of our lists. First time we’ve had a consensus #1. This burger is rivaled only by Luscher’s Red Hots, the #1 in the Red Division. Here’s the kicker – Luscher’s is owned by Brian & Courtney Luscher, the owners of the Grape! What are the odds that the two best burgers in Dallas may very well be the same burger? The patty is a 10 ounce house ground chuck with a perfect fat to lean ratio. Bun is soft enough to be a seamless part of the total experience but hearty enough to hold it together. Crisp vegies are locally sourced. Tricia really liked the slightly sweet pickles. White cheddar ooses out. The pepper bacon tasted great but looked a little lame – hardly a negative. Fries were crispy to perfection. For an out of this world cheeseburger it’s very reasonably priced at $12 which includes the fries. The only downside – The Grape only serves the Classic on Sunday and Monday. Matt summed it up well “Thank you Brian Luscher. You are a burger genius.”|