The first rule of Ten Bells Tavern is: You should actually really talk about Ten Bells Tavern. There's the smoky, saucy wings studded with blue cheese, the woodsy patio (complete with roving, fuzzy cats), the focused beer menu, and the new-Star Wars-trailer-good short rib fries. Ten Bells Tavern has won Best Bar Food, Best Patio, Best Appetizer and Best Front Door Handle from, you know, us (OK, not the last one).
There's also Jack's Cheeseburger, which immediately made me think of Fight Club. Throughout the film, Edward Norton's character continually illustrates his emotional state through proverbial "Jack" parts, after finding articles written by organs in the first person in his frightening house (Example: "I am Jack's raging bile duct").
So, if I were to describe myself today: I Am Jack's Stupidly Good Cheeseburger.
Last year, around this same time, I settled into the patio with their Rocky-Mountains-huge SoCal burger, towering with pastrami and blush-red hot links. It was good, probably a little over the top. Their simpler burger, "Jack's cheesburger," is the better of the two. It's big -- you'll need both hands act as a tripod for your burger eating --and executed with a simplicity that blows away noisy trends.
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Jack's Cheeseburger comes Tavern-style, on a slice of Britishy newspaper (mine said "Shepherd's Pie" somewhere in the headline), Excalibured through the heart with pickles. Acting like a true pub burger, it's big and meaty with a wisp of smoke. You can taste Sherlock-era London. Unsheath a few pickles and slide them onto the burger. When you're ready to dive in, make sure both elbows are planted, like a camera tripod, on the patio table. You'll need a big bite to get to the sparky onions and smoky cheddar.
The burger's expertly seared, with a heavy crust that sends a big damn arrow to the brain's pleasure zone. Same goes for the bun, perfectly toasted. The chef added a curtain of fresh lettuce as a nice crisp kicker. I like a meat-forward burger with no condiments, like marrow-spiked version at Henry's Majestic, but it's up to the burger user. This one doesn't come loaded with mustards or aiolis. A few dabs of something spicy (maybe horseradishy) might work, and wouldn't be the end of the burger world. Really though, the boldness of the meat cuts the need for some processed mustard and mayo mix.
As if you needed it after a boulder of a burger, a dump truck's worth of hot, salty, seasoned french fries fills the other half of the burger's carrier. Eat a lot of those, with ketchup. They're good. If you're feeling like a food challenge, the SoCal burger is an option. I'd go with Jack's cheeseburger for a simpler, even bolder in its simplicity, option. Repeat after me: His name is Jack's Cheeseburger. His name is Jack's Cheeseburger...
Ten Bells Tavern is located in Oak Cliff, which continues to house things that don't suck. It's at 232 W 7th St, Dallas, TX 75208.