The Slow, Weak Pulse of the Heart Attack Grill

Sexy service and a media blitz won't make up for a terrible burger

Basso continues to assume an alter ego to detach himself from his actions and play up his cause. How does Basso intend to change the world? "By being Lex Luther," he told me. "By being the most evil son of a bitch in the world because that will make reporters call me and it will really hammer out a message."

But interventions require the support of friends and family, not the derogatory cheers of strangers. Basso's customers are on their own if they hit his mythical rock bottom. "When that happens you go out and get help," he said. "Where you get help is ultimately up to you."

Blair River didn't have a program that worked for him. Neither does his replacement, a spokesman fittingly (or not-so) named Ernie Heart. He was actually the original face of the Heart Attack Grill, until open-heart surgery forced him to the sidelines. With River in Basso's waste bin for only a week, Heart resumed his death march.

Alex Fine

Location Info

Map

Heart Attack Grill

1718 N. Market St.
Dallas, TX 75202

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Downtown & Deep Ellum

The Heart Attack Grill may be headed for the morgue itself. The original store, in Arizona, closed this May. Basso claims he's simply relocating it to Vegas, where repeat business isn't as crucial to survival. With any luck the Dallas location may tumble into the grave soon enough, too. When I showed up at 6 p.m. on a Saturday, the restaurant was almost empty. I returned a bit later and even at prime time, the obesity parodies on TV and ironic posters on the walls played to a mostly empty house. Despite his sexy-nurse servers and his ridiculous hospital gowns, Basso will ultimately fail, cutting off any chance of achieving his real goal, the one that comes most naturally to him.

"I've never tried to make myself out as a do-gooder," he told me, in a brief moment of honest reflection. "I'm here to make a buck."

Here's hoping he doesn't do it in Dallas.

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11 comments
Mike
Mike

Seriously? You are here like a month and you waste our time and yours with this?

Food Obsessed Anna
Food Obsessed Anna

I agree that this place is utterly disgusting. We came in the second week and the bacon didn't seem thin, more like pure fat. And I would have to say, rather than my worst meal in Dallas, it was my worst meal EVER. I've never felt that bad after my first bite of a cheeseburger. I honestly don't know how you made it back more than once..

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

I office near them. The funk coming off of their dumpster is toxic and enough to keep me from even trying the place. Al Queda should be making bombs out of HAG's leftovers.

Cody
Cody

Sounds like a depressing place and Basso seems like a dirt bag. Why would people go back there anyways? Being laughed at and made fun of doesn't seem that great. I think something might be wrong with a person who would do that for free food.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Never had any interest in trying this place. What a weird anti-restaurant gimmicky concept.

Rangers100
Rangers100

The concept isn't cool or funny or ironic or shocking or creative or whatever Basso is shooting for. It's just crass and pathetic. The faster it goes out of business the better.

JennK
JennK

I couldn't agree more with this article. I went to Heart Attack Grill out of curiosity, but after the initial laughs over the ridiculousness of the concept wore off, all that was left was some really bad food and a waitress whose posterior regions I had a clear view of because the nurse uniforms they wore were WAY too tight and short which made the slit in the back of the skirt expose things I'd rather not see EVER, especially when I''m eating!!!

Far worse than the peek-a-boo buns and other unmentionables, the food LITERALLY tasted like it came straight out of the freezer section at Sam's Club. Which consisted of a cheese burger, a double cheese burger, triple cheese burger, and a quadruple cheese burger, bacon to add to the burger, fries, lucky strike cigarettes, pabst blue ribbon beer and coke. Seriously, that was the ENTIRE menu! The crappy food was served on a plastic plates with no silverware or napkins. We asked for napkins, but did not get them so we resorted to using the "mandatory" scrubs they insisted everyone must wear to wipe our hands from the greasy mess.

If they had put 1/2 the thought and effort into the food they were going to serve or perhaps creating a decent menu, maybe a little fried chicken, nachos, pizza or anything besides nasty pre-fab food as they put into designing the cheesy bad restaurant concept, complete with a blood pressure machine, a vending machine that sells tee-shirts themed to the restaurant that no one wants to claim they have eaten at, the stupid heart attack themed artwork and movie poster parodies, they might have been able to come up with a place people might want to actually eat at (an original concept for a restaurant) and possibly if the food was decent, people would want to come back to eat there again, sadly that is NOT the case.

I'd personally rather eat a tofu burger (ewwww - NOT) or be poked in the eye with a sharp stick than eat there again.

Storm_71
Storm_71

Good story Scott thanks for your work.

Sittin_here
Sittin_here

The problem is the menu yea the meat is bland but there are no foods for kids at all no pickles lettuce or mayo 3 drinks from a bottle (so no refills) water beer and coke. you have to wear a blouse they provide and the same songs play over and over and they will NOT show a game of any kind on the 10 tvs.

There are too many places where you can get a greasy spoon type burger that are great and have so much to go with it Jakes has about 20 kinds of beer not including soda Kellers and Twisted Root all have too much more to offer. Griffs, Wingfeild's, the list is just too long.

Its sad that a novel idea is overshadowed by the bemoanings of a inflexible old man that is out of his element in Texas. Yes, football is that important and really sports in general especially when the teams are winning championships. Businesses want to be apart of that here. You can't be where you are in location and separate yourself from the city.

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

Thoughtful comment. Though I'd be really afraid to see what this guy would do to fried chicken

Food Obsessed Anna
Food Obsessed Anna

Honestly, in my hunger for good food, I could deal with a lot of inflexibilities if the food was great. Then again, I'm one of those weird people who's actually turned off by sports on the tv. I actually thought the atmosphere was nice. Just not the food. Or the butter milkshakes.. it makes me gag a little.

 
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