Friday, December 14, 2012

Best Burgers in Dallas 2012

2012 marks my third annual Best Burgers in Dallas list. Each year, I am surprised how many more great burgers are added to the DFW area, but I am certainly not complaining about that! I am constantly seeking the best burger in Dallas and listening to other people's opinions on the best burger in Dallas, so I welcome your feedback in the comments section.

The best burger in Dallas has become so competitive that I've decided to split burgers into two classes: Diner Burgers and Restaurant Burgers. Roughly classified, restaurant burgers are more expensive (around $10) and are made from higher quality ingredients, like actual steak and local farm tomatoes. I find it difficult to compare a delicious, $3 greasy diner burger to a $14 steakhouse burger. This means a list of greasy burger deliciousness is slated for 2013. For now I give you the best Dallas restaurant burgers of 2012.

Belmont Burger at Company Cafe
Belmont Burger (with goat cheese) at Company Cafe

Search the hashtag #BestBurgersDallas2012 on Instagram and Twitter to see the top 5 burgers as I revealed them on successive days. You can find these burgers plus more on my Best Burgers in Dallas Foursquare list, where you can save them to your own Foursquare to-do list.

Jump to article sections:

Burger Review Criteria


If you go to the right Dallas restaurants, you can order a burger topped with a fried egg, onion-bacon jam, chili, and other unique toppings. However, for the fairness of comparison in this article, I am only concerned with evaluating standard basic burgers. The standard burger ingredients are:
  • Beef Patty 
  • Cheese 
  • Condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise)
  • Lettuce 
  • Tomato 
  • Onion 
  • Pickles 
  • Bun
It's okay if not every ingredient is used, and variations on these standard ingredients are fair game, for example, chardonnay mustard counts. The burger's side dish options and price are noted for your reference, but these criteria were not considered in the evaluation of the burger itself.


Once a burger passes the above criteria, it needs to do so on at least three separate visits. If you do the math, you will understand how many burgers I have eaten not just to sort the top five, but to evaluate the other burgers that didn't make the list, and the sort out the ones that came very, very close.

Located in Dallas, Texas

I don't think any person could try every burger in Dallas, let alone the rest of DFW, although I try to be that person. For the purposes of this list I restrict the criteria to burgers with a Dallas mailing address. This is not to say the restaurant can't have locations in other places, though.

The Ideal Burger

My perfect standard burger would start with a buttery, golden brown toasted, freshly baked, non-white bun with no seeds. That bun would support a juicy, flavorfully seasoned, quality beef patty cooked to a medium doneness. Toppings would include a throughly melted quality cheese (not American cheese), Heinz or housemade ketchup, any mustard other than French's, Hellman's or flavored mayonnaise, one ripe, perfectly-sized, medium-thick tomato slice, three thick-cut homemade pickle slices, one ultra-thin slice of raw red onion or thoroughly sautéed sweet onions, and one perfectly-sized leaf of fresh lettuce that is not iceberg. The restaurant whose burger meets or exceeds most of this description tends to make my best burgers in Dallas list.

2012 Five Best Burgers in Dallas

5. Company Cafe

Belmont Burger on Toast with White Cheddar Cheese
Belmont Burger on Toast with White Cheddar Cheese
Imagine this: a burger that tastes predominantly like BEEF. Not a burger that tastes like bread or condiments, but a burger that tastes like wholesome, fresh beef. Now stop imagining it and go eat the "Belmont Burger" at Company Cafe.

Company Cafe has created the quintessential Americana burger. I say "Americana" because there was a time when most people had no choice but to buy fresh meats and ripe veggies from local purveyors. That food tastes fresher, healthier, and more "real". This is that burger. It's everything a basic burger should be, and during a busy lunch at Company Cafe at least one person at every table seemed to know that, because they were eating this burger, too.

Detailed Burger Analysis

  • Beef Patty: moist, organic, grass-fed beef, simply seasoned with salt and pepper, which lets a pure, fresh, beefy flavor come through every bite
  • Cheese: an impressive selection of "farm-fresh" cheeses from locally-made Dallas Mozzarella Co. mozzarella, blue cheese, white cheddar, goat, parmesan, feta, or queso blanco
  • Condiments: all served on the side—smooth dijon mustard, chipotle or regular mayonnaise, and Heinz ketchup
  • Lettuce: small pieces of spring mix, which fully covers the burger but has a tendency to fall out of the sandwich
  • Tomato: two ripe, medium-thick slices 
  • Onion: ring of raw red onion, sliced thin so it doesn't dominate your palate
  • Pickles: three thick, slightly spicy, Nathan's brand horseradish pickles
  • Bun: choice of regular or gluten-free bun, gluten-free bagel, gluten-free biscuit, or gluten-free toast. The regular bun is not too special, not grilled, but not terribly plain. This is where their burger has the most room for improvement, unless of course you need to eat gluten-free.
  • Sides: includes sea salt sweet potato fries or potato fries
  • Price: $12.00

For months, this was my second favorite burger in Dallas; alas, more flavorful meats and buns awaited discovery…

4. Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House

The P.L.O.T. burger at Goodfriend
"The P.L.O.T." (Pickle, Lettuce, Onion, Tomato) burger at Goodfriend

Wow, the first bite is bursting with flavor! And so was the second, third, and so on, right down to the very last bite. First flavor impressions tend to wear off on me as I keep eating (or as the food gets cold on my plate), but that didn't happen here. This is a common theme I experience with all amazingly delicious food, and it reminds me why I picked Goodfriend's standard burger, "The P.L.O.T.", as the fourth best burger in Dallas.

What is more stunning about this description is that in 2011, there was only ONE burger that caused me to have this reaction, and here we are in 2012, already at "amazingly delicious level" at fourth best burger. I am giddily reminded that I have two more, better amazing burgers to eat this weekend, and one more burger at an even more exceptional flavor level than these. Dallas is a great burger town!

Detailed Burger Analysis

  • Beef Patty: intense flavors of salt, grill char, and other seasonings make this patty taste better than beef alone. The menu says the meat is their own blend of all-nautral, grass-fed, USDA beef.
  • Cheese: white cheddar, perfectly melted around the whole circumference of the burger
  • Condiments: ketchup and mustard are available on the table in unmarked squirt bottles to serve yourself, mayo is available upon request (meh)
  • Lettuce: two large pieces of green leaf lettuce
  • Tomato: two ripe, medium-thick slices 
  • Onion: medium-thick sliced ring of raw red onion
  • Pickles: three thick-cut, bread & butter pickles
  • Bun: generously buttered, golden-toasted challah egg bun. The butter, the toast, and the egg all contribute extra layers of flavor that combine with the beef juice to create a more delicious sum than its parts.
  • Sides: none included
  • Price: $9.00

Now imagine this burger with more gourmet ingredients on top, like the aforementioned fried egg, onion-bacon jam, chili, or bologna— tastebuds, blown. But wait, we still have three better burgers to eat…

3. Stackhouse

The standard burger at Stackhouse

Almost every bite of a Stackhouse burger is so juicy, it's like turning on a faucet, not just to a drip, but to a full stream of clear meat juices. Aside from juicy meat and a buttery golden toasted bun, this burger is really different from others in that it's quite functional to eat. Every topping is sliced ultra-thin (except the lettuce) so it lays flat and evenly distributes the flavors. The usual order of stacking ingredients is inverted— the burger patty is placed on top of the toppings, which I suppose would make the meat the "topping". Then they stick a long wooden spike down the center to hold it all together. The result is a tall (er, "stacked") burger that doesn't slide around with every bite, making it much easier to focus on ensuring that juice doesn't run down to your elbow.

Detailed Burger Analysis

  • Beef Patty: unbelievably juicy patty made of chunky, loosely formed meat, composed of a proprietary meat blend from a meat processor located in their Deep Ellum neighborhood, then seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Cheese: an impressive choice of cheddar, swiss, bleu, pepper-jack, goat, smoked gouda, smoked provolone, feta, American, queso, or fresh mozzarella
  • Condiments: ketchup, mustard and mayo are available in unmarked containers to serve yourself (meh)
  • Lettuce: perfectly-sized chunk of iceburg, I only wish the chunk wasn't thicker than the burger
  • Tomato: multiple, ultra-thin slices 
  • Onion: ultra-thin ring of raw red onion
  • Pickles: an even layer of ultra-thin, sandwich-sliced dill pickles
  • Bun: buttered and perfectly golden-toasted white bun
  • Sides: none included
  • Price: $6.95 for a 6 oz. burger with cheese added

This juicy burger patty also makes for the best burger salad in Dallas. For an even better burger experience, sit outside on Stackhouse's second-floor balcony. They have a great view of downtown Dallas, which resulted in one of my five most liked Instagram photos of all time:

Balcony view of downtown Dallas at Stackhouse
Eat a burger with a view of downtown Dallas

2. Meddlesome Moth

Meyer's All Natural Beef Burger at Meddlesome Moth
"Meyer's All Natural Beef Burger" at Meddlesome Moth

As the Best Burger in Dallas 2011, Meddlesome Moth has continued to consistently deliver on the "amazingly delicious burger" level. They haven't dropped from number one to number two because their burger is any less delicious this year, but because I discovered another restaurant was doing the previously unthinkable— making an even more exceptional burger than the Moth.

This is what happens when you assemble every burger ingredient provided.
The "Meyer's All Natural Beef Burger" is not very functional to eat without the assistance of the massive steak knife that comes with it… and perhaps a fork. However, your slicing efforts are rewarded with a compilation of the freshest tasting ingredients you will find on one burger, matched only by the ingredients found on the number one Best Burger in Dallas 2012. These details make a flavor difference, so take a look at the breakdown:

Detailed Burger Analysis

  • Beef Patty: no antibiotics and no growth hormones (NGH-NA) beef from Meyer's All Natural Angus ranch in Montana, seasoned with salt and pepper. Until recently, Moth's burger was made with grass-fed beef from a ranch just outside of DFW, but I didn't notice Meyer's beef tasting any different.
  • Cheese: Tillamook Medium Cheddar, perfectly melted all around and down the entire circumference of the burger. Unlike other cheeses, this cheese adds a noticeable and welcome cheddar flavor to every bite.
  • Condiments: homemade 1000 Island dressing is the secret ingredient slathered on the bottom bun, underneath the burger patty. It tastes like mayonnaise, only more flavorful. Ketchup in a cup, a bottle of Heinz yellow Pourable Mustard, and mayonnaise in a cup are available upon request.
  • Lettuce: one or two perfectly-sized leaves of fresh bibb lettuce, the best tasting and most functional burger option, in my opinion
  • Tomato: two perfectly ripe, thick slices from Amelia's hydroponic tomato farm in Bells, Texas, which means this burger comes with ripe, homegrown tomato flavor all year long
  • Onion: thin ring of raw red onion
  • Pickles: three or four thick-cut, bread and butter pickles from Henry's
  • Bun: toasted white bun, not as buttery as the others
  • Sides: includes housemade, hand-cut shoestring fries
  • Price: $14.00

As you can see, there is still room for improvement, and one burger has done exactly that…

1. The Grape Restaurant

"Brunch Burger" at The Grape Restaurant
"Brunch Burger" at The Grape Restaurant

I am certainly not the first person to christen The Grape Restaurant as the Best Burger in Dallas, or all of Texas, according to Texas Monthly. Burgers #2–4 were all amazingly delicious and difficult to separate, but this burger is on an exceptionally delicious level unto itself. It's no contest.

A close look inside the ingredients, below, explains why no other burger compares. At almost every ingredient level, the "Brunch Burger" at The Grape goes above and beyond what everyone else is doing with their burger, from the fresh steak meat, to the butter blend on the bun, to the tomatoes individually seasoned with salt and pepper. This is also the only burger that comes standard with bacon— but they couldn't use just any bacon, they use housemade peppered bacon that adds a subtle saltiness to the burger. When the fatty steak juices hit the bottom half of the buttered egg bun, a whole new flavor is born, as if there weren't already plenty of flavors to savor. This burger is so fresh, it is only available Sundays and Mondays, so put this burger on your calendar and plan your week around it. It's worth it!
A close look at the ingredients; note the seasoned tomato
A close look at the ingredients; note the seasoned tomato

Detailed Burger Analysis

  • Beef Patty: 10 ounces of bun-soakingly juicy, marbled chuck-eye steak, freshly ground in house only on Sundays and Mondays, then perfectly grilled to your doneness level
  • Cheese: Vermont white cheddar
  • Condiments: comes with a housemade dijonnaise (dijon mustard plus mayonnaise) on the bottom bun. Ketchup, smooth dijon mustard, and mayonnaise are served in a cup upon request.
  • Lettuce: two perfectly-sized leaves of Texas hydroponic bibb lettuce from Young's Greenhouse in nearby Wichita Falls, Texas
  • Tomato: two perfectly ripe, individually salt-and-pepper-seasoned, thick slices from Lemley's Produce Farm in nearby Canton, Texas 
  • Onion: thin ring of raw red onion
  • Pickles: three or four thick-cut Nathan's Sweet Horseradish Pickles
  • Bun: a soft, pan au lait egg bun from La Francaise Bakery in Garland is bathed in a housemade butter blend of shallots, lemon zest, vermouth, and herbs, then toasted on both the top and bottom sides of each bun half
  • Sides: includes housemade frites
  • Price: $14.00

The only thing that could possibly improve this burger would be even bacon distribution, as opposed to the criss-cross formation that leaves four sections of the burger devoid of that extra deliciousness. With or without bacon in any formation, this is still the best standard burger in Dallas, or Texas, or perhaps the world.

Other Burgers I Tried

If you're wondering, "But have you tried the burger at ______?", then check the list below to see which burgers I tasted before deciding the list above. Also, keep in mind that Diner Burgers will be separated into their own best list in 2013, so you will find some great diner burgers on the list below:

Hopdoddy, Liberty Burger, Ketchup Burger Bar, Village Burger Bar, Twisted Root, Angry Dog, Thomas Avenue Beverage Company (TABC), Whiskey Cake, Wingfield's, SmashBurger, Jake's,  Fuddrucker's, Airways Hamburger, Bread Winners, The Londoner, Sherlock's, Maple and Motor, Snuffer's, Scotty P's, Uptown Pub & Grille, Uptown Bar, Purple Cow, Dream Cafe, Tootsie's, Five Guys, J. Black's, The Loon, Restaurant Ava, B.J.'s, Red Robin, In-N-Out Burger, Cock & Bull, and others I can't recall right now.

Dearly deceased: The Commissary

See previous years' best burgers in Dallas.

Does Grass-Fed, All-Nautral, Organic Beef Taste Better?

In three years of ranking the best burgers in Dallas, I've noticed a growing trend— more and more local, grass-fed, all-natural, or organic beef burgers make their way onto this list. I don't go out of my way to seek this type of meat and I usually don't read what type of meat I am eating before I eat it, so I find it very interesting that most amazing burgers are made with one of these types of beef. I don't know if this means that grass-fed, etc., etc. beef really tastes better, or that the people who care to make great burgers are sourcing all of the best ingredients they can find. For example, I discovered that my two favorite buns on this list are from La Francaise Bakery. My point is, if you see any extra beef adjectives on a menu, you are likely to discover an amazingly delicious burger. Order that burger and let me know if this theory holds true.

Okay now, who did I miss? Which Dallas restaurant makes your favorite standard burger?


  1. Dairy-ette is a must for your diner list next year.... Don't forget, they only take cash.

  2. Yeah that sure sounds like a diner. Thanks for the tip!

  3. can you tell me more about your thoughts of hopdoddy vs. the grape?

    what about the stodt burger at the porch?

    dinner reservation to finally try the famous burger at the grape tonight :)

  4. Hopdoddy is a diner burger, and as I mentioned above, I will create a separate bests list for diner burgers. I can confirm that Hopdoddy will be on that list!

    The Stodge burger at The Porch has lots of fancy toppings that excluded it from the criteria for a standard burger that I set forth in this article. It is worth trying though!

    Let me know how you like The Grape burger!

  5. Off Site Kitchen. Kudos for the Airways mention.

  6. Maple and motor
    Off Site
    Neighborhood Services
    Mamas Daughters Diner

  7. How do these compare to Wingfield's?

    1. Wingfield's is a great diner burger, so it wasn't on this list of restaurant burgers. In previous years I didn't separate these categories, so you can see where Wingfield's ranked.

  8. Thank you for separating this into diner and restaurant burgers and sharing this information! I found your list with a Google search. Excellent idea for people into eating healthy that like a quality burger once in a while. This is exactly what I was looking for! I am saving this list to try them all. Thanks again for helping me to avoid the greasy spoons in my hunt for a good burger in Dallas.