Pulled up to the bar at Hide and you feel an unmistakable energy: It’s bar food, thoughtful and elevated without pretension. One bartender plucks from an herb garden breathing light under a wall of Whistle Pig and other ryes and whisky. He clatters a cocktail with ice and pours out the blush sunset-red drink into a short, stemmed glass. Quickly, the double cheeseburger shows up alongside a tiny grocery cart, something a mouse would pilot around a dollhouse-sized grocery store, which is filled with french fries. It’s happy hour in Deep Ellum.
Besides the fries, which are so likeable that they'll cause any cynical foodie’s Grinch heart to grow a few sizes and break the scale, the cheeseburger is a collective force of good. Impossible-to-dislike American cheese drapes over each patty. It’s a molten flow that reaches the butcher paper beneath; a burger eater lives for wrapper cheese. The patties are hand-formed 80 percent ground chuck (20 percent fat), doubled-up and spiked with Worcestershire sauce.
“I’m kind of over the $18 burger,” Hide owner Nick Backlund says.
The burger's less than $12 at dinner but no less thoughtful than the bank-breaking sandwiches you’ll find a few miles away. Backlund's crew braises onions for four hours in Lonestar, the national beer of Texas. Roasted garlic aioli, which is forever the fancy way to say “damn good mayonnaise,” hangs on the buttered bun with two slices of bacon that have a NASA-exact crispness. Hide’s bacon should replace the clip art for wavy bacon: It's the bacon you imagine when you imagine bacon. The crew smashes the ground chuck patties into the flat grill, which adorns crust, and the onions provide texture. It’s elementary, bold and full of texture.
“It’s not super crazy. I like simple. I like big flavor,” Backlund says.
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During happy hour, the burger is one of the best deals for the execution that you’ll get in the city. All of the above is $6 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Hide. The difference between the dinner burger (which is $11) and the happy hour burger is a single slice of bacon. The burger comes with fries and a thick-cut pickle, which isn’t a given anymore in these days of burger gentrification.
“It’s bar food, but it’s our bar food,” Backlund says, talking about the scratch elements made in Hide’s kitchen.
I polish off half a cheeseburger in no time. This is the kind of sandwich for which you lean into your stranger neighbor and talk about how good it is. Sharing the counter, the clatter of cocktails going, you’ll feel the urge to discuss the forces of a simple and great cheeseburger.
Hide, 2816 Elm St., hidebar.com. Open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Happy Hour: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday.