The food hall on Cedar Springs would probably be insufferably trendy if it weren’t actually pretty great. There are preciously wrapped cookies at La Duni and neatly encased to-go pastas and kale chips and “pronto” FireSide pizzas. There’s even a quiet vertical garden, bright and evenly distributed with herbs. Before your blood boils with the fires of a thousand Bourdains, it’s a good idea to try the baby burgers at The Hot Counter.
Trust me, if it’s half as irritating to read “baby burgers” as it is to write it, you may have already thrown your computer like a battle axe out of your office window. With such a cutesy name and premise, it would be easy to dislike the baby burgers at The Hot Counter if they weren’t so tasty.
Right by FireSide Pies Pronto, The Hot Counter promises slider-sized cheeseburgers, a few tacos and breakfast sandwiches. Everything is neat and tidy at THC, like the rest of the food hall: Topo Chicos and soda ready for plucking from iced coolers, and there are Deep River kettle chips on shelves. Two burgers are six bucks and three are $8.50, so I go for the these three: The Korean burger, with “Korean barbecue sauce,” cilantro and mint; the PKM, which is McDonald’s-esque with chopped pickles, ketchup and mustard, and the American!, which is described literally as “cheese burger at its finest!!!”
The burgers arrive loosely wrapped in a paper bag; simple and easy. I try the Korean Burger first, which has a creamy sauce that’s salty and sweet. The pickled carrot and cilantro come through, but not the mint. It’s decent. The bun, however, is pillow-soft (Imagine Shake Shack Martin’s potato rolls) and it’s got that always-good layer of mayo. The PKM, which has the same cast iron-seared beef patty, finely chopped pickles, yellow mustard and good ol’ store-bought ketchup, tastes like an elevated McDonald’s burger. The quickly charred burger that’s better than most fast food, is tough not to enjoy.
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The American cheese-laden slider is also a solid little burger, same size and bun, featuring a more generous helping of mayo. A few hammers of hot sauce — from a little nook next to the shop — provide heat and some needed dimension. I’m not sure that it’s a “cheese burger at its finest!!!,” but it gets the job done. In fact, all of the burgers get the job done and are sized in a way that won’t make you need a George Constanza-level office nap.
The only thing missing from the Uptown Urban Market is an area with free-roaming kittens, puzzles that are almost finished and a decorative hashtag phrase on the wall. After firing down the burgers, while watching a few pizzas come to fruition at Fireside, I ordered a Cuban espresso from La Duni, which I enjoyed on the windy patio like a good and proper Dallasite.
There may be some irritating qualities at Uptown’s food hall, but good food will always dissolve the frustrations that come with excessive trendiness.
Uptown Urban Market, 2600 Cedar Springs Road