It is now known that the Socal burger at Ten Bells Tavern comes with two omens. The first came in the form of a kind waiter, who warned me of a possible doom: "Leave the wrapper on as a long as you can." I thought, "the prophecy of the meat juice is real!" The other came in the form of a black cat. Moments before diving into one of the most intense burgers in Dallas, a night-black cat jumped onto my table. It stared at me, and I stared right back. Seriously, there's a photo.
Ten Bells Tavern, which the Observer gave Best Bar Food last year, has excellent marksmanship. Their wings come with a blue cheese fondue, the BLT comes with an S for spicy shrimp, and they have a damn french fry sandwich called the Ten Bells Butty. Side note: We'd like everything with a side of spicy butty. The other night, on the sun-stroked patio next to the quaint little tin house, I got a burger that should have come with the Game of Thrones theme.
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It's called the Socal burger, and it's 14 bucks. It's an homage to the pastrami-topped concoctions of Southern California (see: the pastrami and cheese wrapped, chili-topped Oki Dog). It came with onions, smoked cheddar and Swiss cheese, and pastrami and a sliced hot link. Pastramiandahotlink. The first bite confirmed the nice waiter's prophecy: The London Times paper it was wrapped in saved my sleeves from a juice wave. For this one, you'll need the two elbows propping your burger up like a tripod.
The first bite was all tender pastrami and the salty explosion of the hot red links. I peeled the London Times paper off the back and gave the burger a huge bite. The meat was juicy, with a blade of pink down the center. The french fries were crisp with those perfect micro-chops of chives. Some complaints: The brioche bun blew apart half way through eating the burger like a Robocop villain. Also, some of the parts were better than the whole. Those hot links, on their own, are spicy and great. With the burger, it dominated the flavor.
This isn't challenge food or fast-food novelty. Ten Bells has a talent for intelligently-designed bar food. This burger, however, comes with a little bit of Godzilla. Beware its wrath.