So you’re going to the NorthPark mall. Just like when you go to the airport around the holidays, you’ll need to arrive 36 to 52 hours early to get a parking space. Remember, there’s parking available at your house already, so you may just want to walk. (Pro tip: Wear four jackets in case it rains.) If you plan on seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, parking doesn’t apply to you because you won’t be able to get tickets until 2018 and at that point you’ll be able to transport via hyperloop to the mall. Thanks Elon Musk! Nevertheless, say it with me: The Theodore's cheeseburger is worth the trip to the mall; The Theodore's earthy, smoky, delicious cheeseburger is worth a trip to the mall.
It's the lunch rush at the new NorthPark concept from Tim Byres (Smoke) and partners Chris Zielke and Christopher Jeffers, and the mall is humming. The parking lot is full of honking cars. In the bar area, a whiskey and scotch shelf reaches high — it's an immediate safe haven before you wade into the madness. “Thrill Is Gone” is playing on the radio. Bookshelves showcase decorative starfish and turtle shells. The art depicts a lot of flightless birds. This doesn’t feel like a mall restaurant. I feel safe, tucked away from Build-A-Bear.
I go for the cheeseburger, obviously — 13 bucks with a side of chips. It comes with bacon, American cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato and pickle. No condiments. They're not needed. I went for the usual medium rare. On first bite, you get an eye-opening smoky and earthy flavor, like the burger has been hanging out with truffles.
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Red onions as sheer as a ghost, a beautiful curtain of lettuce and tomato are all dressed and they're far from boring. Thanks to the bacon, the burger lends the sensory experience of a homemade fire. American cheese is so perfectly melted you could mainline it, and the whole thing is lovable. You'll forget about anything related to ketchup or mayo. I devour it quickly.
The bun, which at first looked towering, squishes down and has a chewiness that The Theodore’s burger competition around Dallas doesn’t have. It’s not a cloud-like bun, it may be just on the side of dense, but it works. The chips are shard-crisp, and also give off the earthy musk of truffles — or is that just The Theodore? They do look somewhat oily.
This is my second time to try the burger, and I keep coming back for bites thanks to those consistent textures and harmonizing flavors: The shaved red onions with zippy pickles and smoky bacon slices are truly memorable and exact. It’s one of the most interesting burgers I’ve had in months. The burger’s worth abandoning your plans to rove the mall and seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the AMC instead. It better not suck. Either way, the force with The Theodore’s cheeseburger is strong, and it's a great way to escape at the mall.
The Theodore is on the Park Lane side of NorthPark, between Nordstrom and Macy's.