Start's Potential

Erin McKool's Take on Fast Food Feels Like the Begining of Something Big.

Other dishes aren't as decadent. A breakfast sandwich made from silver-dollar pancakes isn't as fun to eat, even if it's a fun idea. The veggie patty is dry and the pancakes are drier, but you can imagine young kids making a mess with the maple syrup dipping cup and not realizing their sandwich is pork-free.

The good intentions of a veggie burger served at lunch, though, are a little harder to disguise. Vegetables, beans, quinoa and almonds form a patty that's moist on its own but gets lost in a dense, dry whole-grain bun. Buttermilk dressing lends some moisture, but while this sandwich may appeal to vegetarians, it's not going to convert a steadfast carnivore.

Thankfully, there are beef versions. They start with the standard "Better Burger," but why order that when a version so much more mischievous is available just down the menu? The "Badder Burger" adds melted cheddar, crunchy bacon and silky avocado to lettuce, onion and tomato for just two dollars more. The whole-grain bun feels a little toothy, but the fatty toppings fill out the bread, resulting in a burger that eats like a self-indulgence but eschews the typical side-car full of guilt. The whole thing comes together in a way that tastes fresh and bright and significantly reduces the self-loathing.

Mark Graham

Location Info



4814 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75206

Category: Restaurant > Burgers

Region: East Dallas & Lakewood



4814 Greenville Ave., 214-265-1411, Open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. $

Bacon, egg and cheddar sandwich $4.50

Breakfast burrito $5

Peanut butter and banana sandwich $3.50

Baked chicken empanada $3.50

Burger $7.50

Smoothie $4.50-$5

The same can be said for most of the menu at Start. Wraps and salads boast crisp vegetables, fresh dressings and meats that taste clean and home-cooked, so long as you grew up with a mother obsessed with lean proteins and organic ingredients.

McKool is a mother of one who's frequently looking for ways to improve her real-food-fast concept. She has hired a night crew to do her prep from 10 p.m. till dawn and now keeps the restaurant open though the midday lull. She listens to and incorporates customer feedback, and she's looking for new meat sources to handle her increasing demand.

Start goes through 300 pounds of beef a week and hundreds of buns a day as a constant barrage of cars pummel her drive-thru window all day long. For the most part, they're driving away with food that's significantly better than what's available at most fast-food chains.

While sweet-potato tater tots are soft and gooey, the white-potato versions are good. Start has no deep fryer, so the tots are baked on sheet pans, which keeps fat to a minimum. Many ingredients lean toward healthfulness without going too far. That's the idea behind the name. McKool wants to give her customers a way to begin to make healthy decisions without taking the whole-grain-low-fat mantra to excess. The muffins for breakfast sandwiches, for instance, are made from a mix of white and wheat flour, so they pack more nutrients but don't taste like a grain bin.

As you bite into one of those paper-wrapped muffins stuffed with organic peanut butter, ripe bananas and sticky honey, you might think it's almost too simple. Why would someone pay four bucks for something they could easily make at home in seconds? And as a dark blue SUV pulls out of the drive-thru and onto Greenville Avenue the answer becomes obvious. Many customers simply don't have the desire — or, these days, the time — and Erin McKool is ready to serve them.

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