In the past few years, Deep Ellum restaurants have opened and changed as fast as a windstorm. We’ve recently been meat-knighted with Easy Slider, the brick and mortar of Dallas’ best burger truck, and the Damn Burger at Armoury D.E. is well worth the mild profanity in its name.
Filament has a Big Mac-inspired double cheeseburger, which may live in limbo after the departure of chef Josh Healy (one of many changes at the spot). Kitchen LTO recently evolved into Junction Craft Kitchen, the new home to a burger with house-made American cheese. Junction’s burger may be one of Dallas’ best; it’s certainly at the top in the ever-changing Deep Ellum.
So what about the Deep Ellum’s old burger guard? What’s tried and true in the neighborhood? There’s Angry Dog, featuring the can’t-go-wrong griddled cheeseburger, and Adair’s delicious, greasy basket burger. Both are as reliable as it gets. Then there’s Stackhouse Burgers, which opened in 2011 on Gaston Avenue and has one of Dallas’ best patios. Unfortunately, it also has one of the city's most disappointing burgers.
On the surface, Stackhouse seems like a surefire bet. Its website (which Google ominously warns "may be hacked") notes that it doesn't "take any short cuts." The menu is short, sweet and customizable, and there are no irritatingly trendy toppings unless you’re fed up with avocados.
On a visit, I grab a single cheeseburger (just under $7) with American cheese, grilled onions and bacon and a side of fries for $3.50. (When did french fries become so cheffy that it costs half a burger to get them on the side?)
My cheeseburger arrives skewered by a wooden spike to prevent it from toppling, which is important because there’s a slab of iceberg lettuce thicker than a full wallet under the patty. Iceberg lettuce works best when chopped and dressed, like the kind you'll find at Neighborhood Services. Cutting Stackhouse's burger down the center to check if it’s medium rare causes an instant construction disaster, thanks to half a head of watery iceberg.
The patty's medium rare but greasy rather than juicy, and tasting it on its own reveals an underseasoned slab of beef. No blanket of American cheese can save it. A pile of slippery onions, softened rather than griddled to a buttery jam, are a one-note miss. My mistake there: The burger already comes with thin rings of red onion and shaved dill pickle. I’ve had onion dip in the past at Stackhouse that was more successful. This visit, the burger and its dry bun blow apart like an Alien: Covenant victim.
Deep Ellum is in the middle of fast-paced change. The most reliable burgers are the sandwiches wherein thoughtful execution meets simplicity. Dallas has so many great no-fuss, hammer-to-a-nail burger joints at this point that even the slightest slip of execution can stand out. Stackhouse has a great patio and some great snacks but hits its own thumb with the hammer.
Stackhouse, 2917 Gaston Ave.