by Steven Doyle
This week is all about the burger, and Dallas certainly has no shortage of the delicacy. What makes a perfect burger is the flavor of the beef, and freshness of the bun, and toppings. A burger should develop a nice sear to trap all the juices inside. Pressing a burger releases all of its flavor and makes the burger dry and ends up crumbling. The toppings are just as important as the cooking process. Using fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and onions help bring a crisp texture and flavor depth that makes your burger scream fresh. To add more depth a spread or sauce needs to compliment the other toppings without making the burger too messy or all you have is a excessive use of napkins. Innovative burger toppings just makes the flavor depth more interesting you just need to keep them in check because there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.”
Today we examine Dallas restaurants that create a fantastic burger. These are all mostly chef-driven and not from one of our favorite burger joints, fo that list look here.
The list is in no order except the first one is definitely our favorite.
Knife: Two-time Top Chef John Tesar is the last word in burgers in Dallas, he is also behind the Knife Burger locations popping up – soon in Fort Worth. Here you may taste what the burger of his childhood, the Magic. Tesar began his cooking career plating lettuce and tomato on burgers at Magic’s Pub in Southampton Beach, New York where the Magic began. It was a great time for him. “We had it all. There was rock and roll, beer and pretty girls. And we would work at night and surf all day,” reminisced Tesar about his first cooking position. The burger is sandwiched between an English muffin and has a unique bite and flavor like no other. There are plenty of other favorites and there are no wrong choices.
Stock and Barrel: Jon Steve’s grill in Oak Cliff hosts many fine plates on an ever-rotating menu of freshness, but none speak to us more loudly that his burger. This burger is laden with fresh tomato jam, house-cured bacon and cheddar. Simple in execution using fine ingredients creating a classic burger kicked up to a level only this chef could create. The burger is served with hand cut russet potatoes that are thin and crispy, and has its own aioli on the side. This is exactly what a chef-made burger should be, and definitely tops our list of favorites in a city that holds dear to this sandwich.
TJ’s Seafood Market: This can’t be right, or can it? A class local seafood shop in Dallas with a great burger? Look for a hand-formed brisket short rib patty, Whistlepig maple bacon, white cheddar, onion jam, a housemade pickle and more fixings. For a few extra shekels you may add a smattering of very large grilled shrimp to complete the burger. Thurston Howell would approve. The patty is juiced and tastes of fresh grilled meat, as it should. The bun is exciting and does a decent enough job of holding the ingredients together. A Herculean task. The added shrimp smack of the grill and are crisp and taste of a sweet salted breeze coming off the Cape. All this and served with a side of freshly cooked Old Bay seasoned chips.
Commissary: Yes they dry age their beef before grind. Yes, the bun is house baked. Yes, it is hard to order a burger when they have so many wonderful choices, but you will be both pleased and satisfied.
Ten Bells Tavern: Located in Oak Cliff serving surprisingly delicious food and drinks, with a nice beer selection, Ten Bells is the place for several on-point items including 1) brunch, 2) wings and 3) the burger. Nothing more soothing than great beef on a superior bun for a nice day in the shade. Oh, you could fly a kite or pet puppies, those are good things too.
Braindead Brewing: We know Sam Wynne can make beer, or at least drink the stuff made at his funky restaurant/ brewery in Deep Ellum, but did you know he commands a great burger? The first menu item we sampled when Braindead first opened was this Coma Burger, and it haunts us to this day with an every-so-often re-entry into our belly. Don’t forget the milk and cookies!
Boulevardier: We are guessing Oak Cliff is now a burger Meccas, and Boulevardier knows meat. Cheffed by partner Nathan Tate, a burger whiz in his own right, the burger is made with a half-pound of grass fed beef, house bacon, Gruyere cheese and caramelized onions. It will be difficult to ignore the rest of the menu, but you may always order oysters as a starter and one of the sublime cocktails or well curated brews. Go a little crazy and ask for bone marrow on top of the burger!
Up One Knox: Truly a gentleman’s burger made lovingly by their chef, this burger will trip your lights. The restaurant is literally open all day including breakfast, so there are plenty of opportunities for this burger made with the legendary 44 Farms beef, a Duroc-onion compote (oh my), cheddar and house-made pickles for the win. Duroc is an amazing breed of old school pig that is bred to be extra tasty. Luxuriate with a burger and a side of caviar with a martini!
Parigi: We have recently discussed Parigi for their delicious and fun brunch where the scene is seen and the diners dine. We discussed the joys of that brunch but also slipped in a burger unbeknownst to our readers. It has some major wow factor as owner-chef Janice sources everything local and everything fresh. Consider this burger which changes daily, but you may create your own version by merely looking for key ingredients on the menu. How about we design one now? A great beef patty medium rare with their award winning Caesar salad (with Reggiano shavings), bacon and heirloom tomatoes. Sound good? Order that, but we would also add jalapenos. Viola!
Laurel Tavern: A burger for the true enthusiast. Seriosuly grilled to order and made plain and simple. Here’s the scoop on these fellows. They are from Studio City in California with a location also at Hermosa Beach. The fellows happen to travel to Dallas and one of the owners fell in love with us and stayed, opened a restaurant and brought us his favorite burgers. The very simple Royale with Cheese is as simple as you will find but packed with great burger flavor. We cannot recommend enough.