Cruise the various neighborhoods of Dallas and something becomes clear: There are a lot of burgers in this town. From timeless classics like Dairy-Ette and Off-Site Kitchen to trendier meat-slingers like Rodeo Goat, when a carnivorous craving kicks in, a plethora of bovine-and-bun-based options are at our fingertips. With so many great options around, a new burger concept needs to really have something to show for themselves or had better prepare to be lost among the herd.
Haystack Burgers and Barley should have little trouble securing its place in Dallas’ bursting burger scene. While the brand’s first location neighboring the Alamo Drafthouse at Belt Line Road and U.S. 75 in Richardson has been pumping out patties for nearly four years now, their new location at Turtle Creek Village, which discreetly debuted last week, really takes the concept up a notch.
“We knew that if we wanted to grow the Haystack concept, we needed to have a Dallas location,” says Kevin Galvan, who owns the company along with his wife, Jenny. “It is the heart of the Metroplex. We were drawn to the Turtle Creek location because of the built-in lunch traffic, close proximity to Uptown and Park Cities and the added bonus of parking.”
While the menu features the same burger staples and friendly Tex-Mex influence, it’s evident immediately after walking through the door that this new location is very much its own entity and not just a copy/paste of the original. The space is full of white marble and white wood accented with stylish blue wallpaper and matching blue chandeliers, and the design seems to create a distinction between “burger joint” and “burger restaurant.”
If your whistle needs wettin’, you are in the right place. The tagline is “Burgers and Barley” after all, and they’ve got you well covered on the barley with 12 “hyper-local” taps. On the list: DFW brews from Martin House, Noble Rey, Oak Highlands Brewing and more, in addition to another 50 offerings in bottles and cans, all of which are domestic and about half of which hail from the Lone Star State. If you’re not feeling a beer, you can opt for a Haymaker, a Maker’s Mark and citrus juice-based cocktail that is sweet, slightly herbal and contains the most structured yet easily drinkable slush texture known to modern science.
In terms of burgers, it’s really hard to go wrong. The namesake Haystack Burger ($9.35) is a safe bet with smoky bacon, sweet barbecue sauce and crunchy onion strings. If a patty melt ($8.35) is more your thing, this one features toasted whole wheat, plenty of mixed cheeses, flavorful grilled onions and a chipotle mayo that gives the burger a nice, creamy kick of heat.
For real heat-seekers, however, the Barn Burner ($8.95) is for you, featuring flavorful grilled poblanos, a zesty freshness courtesy of pico de gallo and a satisfying but not overwhelming heat from the chipotle mayo and pepper Jack cheese. The meat on all the burgers is juicy, full of flavor and cooked to a perfect pink-centered medium, but if you’ve got a beef with beef, any patty can be substituted for a turkey or veggie patty.
The sides here are solid as well. The fresh-cut Kennebec fries ($2.50) taste fresh and aren’t over-seasoned, while the Haystack onion strings ($3.25) are crunchy with a batter and seasoning that don’t outshine the onion flavor. Expedite your decision-making process by ordering a half and half order ($3.50); you’ll get to try both and won’t hold up the line.
In addition to these standard offerings, Haystack also offers a variety of other starters and sides. The ranchero chicken-stuffed jalapeños (three for $5.25) are lightly fried, moderately spicy and, while cheese-free, are packed tight with seasoned chicken. The enormous fried mozzarella sticks ($5.75) are a far cry from the frozen-then-fried cop-outs you can find most anywhere, and the smoky and meat-packed chili is good on a Frito pie ($5.95) and simply ridiculous on the Pitch Fork Chili Burger ($8.35).
They aren’t going to let you tarnish these outstanding side orders with subpar condiments, either. From the creamy honey mustard to peppery ranch, Haystack features a variety of house-made condiments. If the Barn Burner got you simmering, try the three pepper ranch, which gets its rich flavor and a good bit of heat from poblano, jalapeño and habanero peppers. Everything on this menu tastes fresher than you’d expect from a burger franchise.
“We do not have a freezer, and everything on our menu is made in-house, from our mozzarella sticks to the veggie patties to the variety of ranch dressings,” Galvan says.
With tailored ingredients from start to finish, it’s clear that there is a passion for food here; however, this husband-and-wife team say it’s not just about the food.
“We really want to create a feeling of community,” Galvan says. “We feel that we are here not just to serve burgers, but to serve people. We are family-owned and will always operate with the values that come with that.”
In a day and age when burger spots seem less concerned with quality and more interested in seeing how much weird shit they can throw on a burger and charge $15, Haystack Burgers and Barley is a refreshing reminder that fresh, quality ingredients can hit the table without costing an arm and a leg. While more burger concepts from Austin to California continue to crowd the burger scene here in DFW, Haystack is a home-team player worthy of rooting for.
Haystack Burgers and Barley, 3838 Oak Lawn Ave.