Good to Go is a column where our food writers explore Dallas' restaurant scene through takeout orders, delivery boxes and reheated leftovers.
They celebrated their first anniversary in April, and right as high noon hits, the dining room is empty. It’s literally empty — the chairs and tables have vanished, and stickers form a pathway every six feet to show where a few souls can stand. Miroslava Pena, who’s runs the burger joint with her family, punches the register behind a shield and a mask.
Porky’s Burgers and Wings is the free-standing, baby-blue hut on the edge of a vision-spanning parking lot. It’s a family business situated at the base of a mountain range of big retail shops, a real Rocky Balboa kind of burger joint on Gus Thomasson Road in Mesquite.
Their griddled cheeseburgers — giant, two-hander sandwiches with tons of fixings — are knockouts. They’re given a heavy coat of salt, pepper and some punchy garlicky dry seasoning. The french fries are fantastic, tall, salty columns that stay standing when swiped through condiments.
The chicken-fried steak sandwich is a simple pleasure with pickle slices, very fresh tomato, lettuce and onion under the flash-crunch of breaded, fork-tender steak. There’s some mayonnaise on the top bun, a big soft puffy disc, and that’s it.
Porky’s is one of those rare species of family-owned fast food joints that keeps their burger toppings as fresh as the beef. Things you won’t find on a Porky’s sandwich: Rusty-ended lettuce bits or tomatoes as basic and flavorless as printer paper, and you absolutely won’t find buns that taste like a cup of sand.
There’s time spent on construction here: Caramelized beef juices run into the lettuce-onion-pickles mix, melding into a new condiment. It’s stacked neatly and knife-ready between the bun. They don’t drop defunct lettuce and red onion that’s so potent it stings in a Styrofoam package. You don’t need to build your own burger here; they’ve figured out what you want.
The kitchen roars when my order is announced — the clacking sound of metal spatulas on griddles and the hiss of patties searing. Fries and tater tots are already roiling in the deep fryer, which means they’ve got call-ahead orders in the queue. Steam pumps from plastic bags and Styrofoam cartons as Pena passes the order under the register’s protective shield.
It travels brilliantly — the chicken-fried steak’s breading snaps awake when I slice it down the center. The structural integrity is intact through and through. Curly fries are spiked with some heat. Tater tots crunch loud enough to be noise-canceling.
Porky’s is ideal fast food — drive-thru, dining in or any way that we can get it — in times of crisis.
Porky's Burgers and Wings, 4612 Gus Thomasson Road, Mesquite. Open for takeout only 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.