There’s no question about it: Dallas in the midst of a golden age of the cheeseburger.
Dallas burgers have become so great that it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest the city build a walk of fame and place marble and brass stars on it to honor the burgers that have inspired our generation. At this point, an out-of-towner on a burger quest would need several weeks to try them all. The next star to place on the walk of fame is the Standard burger at Wheelhouse in the Design District. It’s part of a trend in which chefs are wielding nostalgia like Thor's hammer.
There are enough burgers like this, it feels like, to fill a map, which means that we should probably invent some sort of legend to illustrate the kind of burger you’re about to devour. A golden arch could indicate that it’s a fast-food inspired cheeseburger. The image of a smoker could tell you that the patty’s been made with a brisket blend. A suggestive peach emoji could indicate that the bun is house-made.
The Standard burger is, without irony, two beef patties with special sauce, lettuce, pickle and – help me oh great purveyor of beef in the sky! – it’s served on a sesame seed bun. On my recent visit, I’m sitting at a high-top surrounded by stone grays and polished metal. The lights above the patio look like double-bladed lightsabers. This is the kind of no-fuss restaurant that’s thriving right now, serving plate after plate of beef jerky, tacos and house-made sausages and burgers.
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The Standard arrives quickly, with the familiar presentation of fries in a metal cup. The bun has clearly been showered with sesame seeds by hand; there’s no math to their placement. Molten American cheese and Wheelhouse's creamy dressing, blush red from a nudge of hot sauce, flows over the beef. Cooling, shredded iceberg lettuce, punctuated with sweet, house-made bread-and-butter pickles, sits above the patties. The bun is cloud-soft but structured, and each patty is juicy.
Wheelhouse’s cheeseburger is the closest thing to a reincarnation of the Uncle Herky burger since we lost Luscher’s Red Hots last year. Only homemade mustard could cause full Herky resurrection. I ate half of the burger before noticing the shattering on the outside, creamy on the inside french fries. They’re good, if noticeably salty. Thanks to a delicious burger, they seemed almost unnecessary. Almost – I ate most of them in seconds.
You might think it’s hard togo wrong with melted American cheese, an overflow of mayo, shredded lettuce and pickle on a burger. I’d argue that there are few foods easier to screw up than a burger. The Standard burger at Wheelhouse feels, somehow, both new and nostalgic. It deserves four golden arches.
Wheelhouse, 1617 Hi Line Drive