Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Best Burgers in Dallas 2011

I am constantly searching for the best burger in Dallas—tasting new and unranked burgers, evaluating everyone else's bests lists, and re-tasting my own best list to make sure each burger is holding its rank. When I re-tasted my (formerly) No. 2 Meddlesome Moth burger this week I realized some other burgers haven't been holding their rank, and it was time for a total re-ranking of my list. See if any of my favorites match yours.

Bread Winner's burger did not make the rankings.
Let me preface by saying I rate burgers based on their standard ingredients so that comparisons can be equal. Standard burger ingredients are:
  • Beef patty
  • Bun
  • Cheese
  • Ketchup 
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Pickle
  • Onion
Variations on these standard ingredients are fair game, for example, chardonnay mustard counts. It's okay if not every topping is used; however, these rankings are not influenced by side dishes or toppings whose basic variation falls outside this list, like bacon, BBQ sauce, chili or eggs.

If there is a holy grail standard burger it would be a golden brown, butter-toasted, freshly baked white bun (with no seeds) supporting a juicy and flavorful beef patty cooked to a medium doneness, then topped with a throughly melted, quality cheese (not American cheese), Heinz ketchup, special mustard (pretty much anything other than yellow mustard), Hellman's mayonnaise, 1 perfectly-sized ripe tomato slice, 3 homemade pickle slices, 1 thin slice of raw red onion or limply sautéed yellow onions, and 1 perfectly sized leaf of fresh lettuce that is not iceberg lettuce. Some restaurants do some ingredients better than this. These tend to be the burgers that get ranked.

Let's take a look at the past rankings before we get to the better stuff:

Formerly No. 1
My former Best Burger in Dallas, the TABC Gourmet burger. This was taken on July 2, 2010.
I should have seen this unseat coming because my last several burgers at Thomas Avenue Beverage Company (TABC) weren't as good as they were last year, and my foodie friends have reported B+ experiences. The problem is not that this burger has gotten worse or someone else's is better; their problem is consistency. Sometimes the bun is basted in a glorious herb butter and sometimes it's not. Often times I have to ask for the tarragon mustard that is supposed to come with it. I suspect the root of these problems is that all their waiters and chefs don't know that there is a big difference between their "TABC Gourmet" angus sirloin burger and their regular burger. That difference is the gap between an unranked burger and the No. 1 spot in all of Dallas. When they make the Gourmet burger right, I still think it may be the best burger in Dallas, but my last photo shows that I haven't had a proper one since July 2, 2010, so now I forget how good it tastes. This opened up room for the competition to move up in the rankings. TABC is now No. 2.

Formerly No. 1-B
Angry Dog is perhaps better known for their namesake hot dog, but the burger here is a hidden holy grail. I like that it comes with the option of raw or grilled onions for no extra charge. For the longest time I had this burger tied with TABC, until I realized the meat is always pretty salty. I think this is what makes it taste better, but one time it was too salty even for me and I realized this is probably not a favorable quality for a lot of people. This consistent saltiness allowed TABC to gain a slight edge. Having to pay for parking also makes me not want to get this burger very often.

Formerly Tied at No. 2
Twisted Root's standard burger is pretty decent, and it comes with pickled pink onions, but the meat is lacking a bit in juiciness and quality, leaving just enough room for others to outrank them. Their huge notoriety and outstanding flavors are mostly in their crazy toppings. Twisted Root has been featured on Travel Channel's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (click to watch on YouTube), and they definitely have the best variety of meat, crazy toppings, and side dishes in Dallas—from venison and kangaroo burger meat to Deep Ellum goat cheese and fried pickles—but as I said at the beginning, these things don't influence this ranking.

Formerly No. 3
Village Burger Bar is one that's easy for me to go back to over and over, so I can vouch for their consistency. It's a holy grail burger with bonus points for basil mayo and chardonnay mustard. They have a great variety of toppings (second to Twisted Root) but again, this does not influence the rankings here. Something is lacking in the flavor of the actual burger meat, and this keeps it from being No. 1.

Formerly No. 4
Fuddrucker's is the only largely franchised burger to make the list. The lettuce is dreaded iceberg, but if you order the Prime beef patty then it's worthy of ranking at the bottom of this list. They get major points for letting you dress your own burger with lettuce in shredded or leaf form, and tomatoes and onions in diced or sliced form, plus other usual and unique toppings. This means you can get the flavor proportions just right for your tastes, which goes a long way towards making Fuddrucker's the best burger YOU have eaten.

Now on to the new rankings!

OLD RANKINGS                             NEW RANKINGS
 
Currently No. 1
Meddlesome Moth's Burgundy Pasture Burger, grass-fed beef with Tillamook cheddar cheese.
Somewhere between my second bite and the last bite it hit me that Meddlesome Moth is my new Best Burger in Dallas. This was my third amazing burger here since last fall, so with some consistency over duration now established, I kept asking myself with each bite, "Could this possibly taste any better? Is there anything I would change?" The answer is no. Just look at those thinly sliced red onions, a perfectly sized red, ripe tomato slice on a single, crisp, green spinach leaf. The Tillamook cheddar is perfectly melted, even all the way down and around the sides of a thick, juicy grass-fed beef patty. Then there's the pickles; I don't know if they are homemade, but they're thickly cut and not dill. They're differently delicious. The white bun is butter toasted on the outside and soft on the inside, with no seeds. It doesn't come with fancy mustard or mayo, but I don't think that would improve this burger because the fresh flavors of the main ingredients are too good to complicate with bottled condiments.

Coincidently, last November I ranked Meddlesome Moth as the fifth best restaurant in Dallas in an article I collaborated on for ILiveInDallas.com. This Best Burger in Dallas solidifies that ranking.

Currently No. 2
TABC's Gourmet burger moves down to No. 2, but still holds a solid rank. Even without all the right toppings, it's still an awesome burger.

Currently No. 3
Wingfield's burger is a super juicy, heavy and absolutely delicious monstrosity.
Wingfield's Breakfast and Burgers is one I forgot to include in my old rankings; it should have been somewhere in the middle. This burger is entirely about the meat. It is the juiciest and by FAR the biggest, heaviest burger patty in DFW, and perhaps anywhere else. The meat is so fresh and tasty it's like crack, you want more, and more you can have because the burger is probably a full pound of meat, no joke. It's served in a single-wide trailer in South Dallas—cash only—so crack may very well be the secret ingredient. Whatever you do, don't order the double or triple meat patty!

Currently No. 4
Company Cafe's grass-fed burger
Company Cafe just opened in early April 2011, but this burger is so good I've had it three times in four weeks! The grass-fed burger meat is really juicy and full of flavor, the tomato is always perfectly ripe, and the cheese is freshly shredded. They get bonus points for letting you choose to have your burger on Texas toast, wheat bread or a gluten-free bagel. I predict this burger will be in the local press nominations for best burger in Dallas for 2011.


Burger's That Didn't Make the Cut
SmashBurger is pretty delicious, but the meat quality is mid-grade and nothing else makes up for it.
In case you were wondering, "...but have you tried the burger at____?" let me try to answer that and then please let me know if there's one that's not one mentioned below.

There are a few burgers around DFW that I have not had and I know I need to try them, and those are The Grape, Keller's, Kenny's and Kincaid's.

Here is a list of DFW burgers I've eaten and for one reason or another they did not make the rankings: Bread Winners, SmashBurger, Jake's, Airways Hamburger, The Londoner, Sherlock's, Maple and Motor, Snuffer's, Scotty P's, Uptown Pub & Grille, Uptown Bar, Purple Cow, Dream Cafe, Hully & Mo, Tootsie's, Five Guys, J. Black's, The Loon, B.J.'s, Red Robin, In-N-Out Burger, Cock & Bull.

Now let the burger debates and suggestions begin! What's your favorite standard burger in Dallas?


46 comments:

  1. try the burger in landmark grill in lewisville. it is mesquite grilled and taste the best especially that place is a hole in the wall.

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  2. That sounds awesome Constantine! I don't know of anyone else touting a mesquite grilled burger. Only problem is a rarely go to Lewisville. I'm a Dallas Foodie. :-)

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  3. Andrew Baumiller7:03 PM, May 28, 2011

    Have you ever tried Hotel Zaza's burger (Dragonfly restaurant), or The Mansion's, or Cafe R+D's, or the Honey Shack's when it was open (closed last month). I can tell by your rankings that you have not had any of thoe burgers because they would surely be numbers 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Even Jake's, Hunky's or Maple & Motor's are better than most on your list? Thoughts, if you disagree, please, please try Hotel Zaza's - it's perfection!

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  4. Thank you for the recommendations Andrew. I have never heard anyone say anything about those 3 burgers, but they are generally regarded as good restaurants so I'd be willing to try their burgers.

    Jake's I have on my very short list of Highly Overrated places (see right side bar). My friend and I thought Jake's was so gross that I've never been back, and to put that in perspective, the only other restaurant I purposely have never been back to is Denny's.

    Maple & Motor's are too greasy to be best, but I would definitely eat it again. I haven't had Hunky's but I've heard a murmur or two that it's good.

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  5. Andrew Baumiller10:22 AM, May 30, 2011

    Hi Dallas Foodie,

    Just wanted to follow-up and let you know we tried TABC's Big Tex Burger on Sunday, May 29th. It was excellent. We chatted with Victor the chef for a couple minutes and he told us about some of the wild burgers he creates each Wednesday. We both agreed that TABC is tied for second on our list, after Zaza. Thanks for a great list. We're definitely going to try the Meddlesome Moth's. If it's number one on your list, it could topple Zaza. Until next time!

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  6. Andrew, Is the TABC Big Tex burger the new name for their sirloin burger? Glad you liked it either way. I didn't know the chef made different burgers on Wed. night. Thanks for the tip! I hope you enjoy Meddlesome Moth's even more. :-)

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  7. Hey everyone,
    I just updated this blog to add Company Cafe as a ranked burger, and to add In-N-Out Burger to my list of tried and not ranked burgers.

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  8. There were two burgers at the top of the section for sandwiches, burgers and tacos. The two burgers at the top were both sirloin. Here are the entries from TABC's menu (we ordered the Big Tex and it was excellent)...

    TABC BURGER: 1/2 lb angus sirloin, cheddar, tarragon mustard, caramelized onions on brioche.

    BIG TEX BURGER: 1/2 lb angus sirloin, smoked bacon, sauteed onion, BBQ sauce, cheddar, brioche.

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  9. great article D!

    Another rec for the grape

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  10. Ah I always get the one named TABC Burger. I have noticed in the past the lunch and dinner menus have slightly different names for this same burger, which may be why the staff didn't always serve the right one. I wonder if the Big Tex Burger is on both menus or if they got rid of the one that wasn't angus sirloin.

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  11. Put Club Schmitz and Dairy-ette on the list to try

    http://questforburgers.blogspot.com

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  12. I always take out of town foodie friends to Hunky's for a burger. It's a diner styled burger but it's so well executed. They roled their eyes thinking it's going to be nothing special. The burger is served. Yes the patty is thinner then lots of other places, the bun doesn't call attention to itself, and it looks rather plain. Then they take a bite. Be sure to order it with the tater tots instead of the fries. another place with really good burgers is Texas Land and Cattle. I actually don't know about the rest of their menu. The first time I went there I ordered a burger and fell in love with it. Every time I've gone back I've always ordered the burger.

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  13. Thanks Anon. I've got Hunky's on my list to try. I've heard it's good from multiple people. I've also been told they have great milkshakes. Texas L&C I haven't been to in probably 3 years, I suppose because I think Texas Roadhouse has the best of that restaurant class in steak, ranch dressing, shrimp, and rolls.

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  14. Have you tried the Jungle Burger from Burger Island? That thing has almost everything on it, and it's huge!

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  15. Anon, thanks for the tip. I haven't heard of Burger Island. Is that in Dallas?

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  16. Hey I read your article and while informative, i dont feel like its acurate. Ive gone to these places (like root burger) and while its tasty (7 out of10), it didn't blow me away. Please, please go eat at bueno burger and see what I mean. The ultimate burger is amazing. You will not regret it, I promise. If you go there and you dont agree, I will never recommend anything to anyone else ever again lol

    I myself am going to check out the places some of your readers recommended to see for myself. I think most of them recommend tasty burgers, but again not ones that are"out of this world"and thats what I'm looking for

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  17. Santiago, I appreciate your comment. I wrote this back in April, so it is a bit outdated now (I need to make changes). Notice the Twisted Root burger didn't make the numbered rankings in this April version (bottom half of the article), which is to indicate that their basic burger isn't quite "out of this world".

    I have never heard of Bueno Burger, but I like to keep a mental file of recommendations. There are so many good burgers in this town that I usually don't go on a special mission to try a new one unless I've heard good things about it from several sources, or the restaurant just opened, or I happened to be driving by when hungry. Let me know if Bueno just opened. :-)

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  18. you need to try jacks burger house. Make sure you go to the one in highland park. Its on greenville, it is by far my favorite burger

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  19. If you go looking for Jacks Burger House, you won't find it. It is actually called "The Burger House". It was opened by Jack, and HP locals refer to it as Jacks. Also, the original is on Hillcrest near SMU. Eat at the counter. But, the fries are the true winner at this place.

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  20. Thanks for the new suggestion! Is there The Burger House also on Mockingbird east of M station? I have heard good things about their milkshakes too.

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  21. Consider Burger Bueno -- it's delicious. I spent a few nights at the Crowne Plaza Hotel that shared a parking lot with Burger Bueno, and I had only been in town for twenty hours and I somehow managed to eat there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I even bought burgers to bring back home with me -- that's how delicious they were.

    Here's the address:
    13021 Coit Road Dallas, TX 75240-5789
    (972) 387-3400

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  22. Thanks for the tip, Annon! I looked them up on Yelp, and they do have pretty good reviews.

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  23. Can't believe no one has mentioned Chip's . Been around thirty years and consistent serves best burgers in dallas. One of the few casual places to serve angus beef. Try it. It's number one on my list. New digs too great patio and bar scene ESP for Mavis/ rangers.

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    1. Thanks bro love chips

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  24. The best burger in Dallas is at Liberty Burger. Inwood/forest. I promise. It melts in your mouth

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  25. This April will be my third year updating this list, and I'm already starting to do repeat taste tests on the best burgers I've had in the past year. Please leave a comment now to let me know which burgers I absolutely MUST consider, or re-consider, if something changed in the last year.

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  26. I'm a fan of the Spicy Baja burger at Smashburger (which is also delicious with a black bean patty)...with a side of Smashfries!

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  27. DEFINITELY try Kenny's! One of my favorites! Also Goodfriend (I haven't tried, but I've heard others like it.) Urban Eatz in Irving/Richardson has good burgers and sandwiches too!

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  28. you gotta try Holy GrailPub's burgers. SO EFFING AMAZING!! Their brie and mushroom burger is damn amazing. so is their blue cheese and caramel pear burger.....holy eff.

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  29. The burger I can't keep away from my mouth is the "Murph" from OSK. Seriously one of the better burgers in Dallas. Awesome break down on your list though.

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  30. You must try Liberty Burger... they are new on the scene, but many folks in N. Dallas are making it a destination! The burgers and other items are delicious and their specialty burgers are amazing (we're slowly going through the whole list!). The place is getting busy all the time... and note that they are closed on Sunday. Find them at the corner of Inwood and Forest. Don't forget to try the shakes and the mini meringue pies.

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  31. This place just opened up on Lemmon Avenue @ Inwood, It is called Better Burger. It is fresh, everything is made on site meat is ground everyday, potatoes are fresh cut daily. I highly recommend you get the double burger on a pretzel bun!!! They also have Purple potatoes, yes purple. I have been in twice already,and they just opened in Feb. Burgers that remind me of my childhood cheese melting on my juicy burger love it!

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  32. Gourmet Burgers:

    PrimeBar Burgers at Primebar Uptown, Any of the burgers at The Ketchup Burger Bar, The Basic Brisket Burgers at The Whiskey Cake and my last burger on earth is at The Grape.

    Best Burger for Your Money:

    Burger Bueno

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  33. I forgot to add the great gourmet burgers at The Porch on my list, but The Grape is in a league of its own.!!

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  34. Thanks for all of these suggestions! I am so glad I asked now so that I have a month to eat around town before the next update of this list in April.

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  35. The best burgers in Dallas are from MOOYAH! The burgers are always fresh and made with lean meant. They paired with fresh baked buns. To top off the meal the hand-cut fries and hand-spun shakes are good too.

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  36. The burgers at MOOYAH are pretty good; I love the veggie patty and thick fries or the double meat beef patty is good too with the whole wheat bun!! Its a good meal for the money.

    In West Village, Village Burger Bar has a great chicken burger (not sure if that counts!!) and LOVE their sweet potato fries! YUM!

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  37. Molonkis Burger and 5 guys need to both be in this discussion

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  38. Thanks for the suggestions. I've already got Five Guys in the list of burgers I've tried that didn't make the list, and Village Burger Bar is in my list of former bests. I haven't tried MOOYAH yet though.

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  39. Burguesa Burger on Fort Worth Ave. is my favorite next to the Westerner at Twisted Root... Order the La Monumental and add that fried egg! Goodness.

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    1. Thanks for the tips. For this article I try to compare apples to apples, normal cheeseburger to cheeseburger. There are many different burgers out there depending individuals' taste for condiments, but it all starts with a great burger underneath, and that was what I try to cover here.

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  40. Chips old fashioned burgers is by far best in dallas. Major props to the way they serve them and they say big as a football or something like that. Owners/ managers are best in town- got to check out this dallas landmark! Lovers and the tollway can't beat the price - try the tater tots yummmm

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  41. If you havent tried the burger at The Standard Pour, you are missing out! I def think its one of the best, if not the best.

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    1. The Standard Pour didn't exist when I wrote this article in 2011, but I have been working on a 2012 update. TSP has such excellent fried chicken I haven't tried anything else there yet!

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