Burger Smackdown: Deep Ellum Full Service Class, St. Pete's Vs. Angry Dog

I'm perplexed. The first time I had an Angry Dog burger more than a year ago, I was really disappointed. The meat was way over-cooked, the cheese wasn't melted and gooey, and I walked out of the restaurant smelling like a teenager who had just put in a double-shift at McDonald's. I was sure St. Pete's Dancing Marlin was capable of better -- they pummeled Angry Dog in a recent chili dog smackdown -- but the burger I ordered for Burger Week was exactly the same -- tough, dry and rather flavorless.

I became further confused a few minutes later when I ordered a burger cooked the same medium doneness at Angry Dog. I knew as soon as I cut into the burger that the popular Deep Ellum grease pit was going to take the prize, I just wasn't prepared to accept it yet. Facts are facts, though, and my latest experience at Angry Dog produced a tender, juicy patty, compared with a tough, rubbery, dry one back at St. Pete's.

Here's what's funny. I asked Pete, who was working the bar that day, where he got his meat and if it came in frozen. He told me the patties came in preformed, but fresh from Winn Meat Co. in Dallas. So I asked the kitchen manager at Angry Dog the same question and wouldn't you know it? I got the exact same answer.

The burgers are practically identical, made with the same patties, topped with similar toppings and housed in a similar bun. The only difference is in the preparation, which depends on who's working the grill on any given day. St. Pete's cooked my burger into oblivion that day, but Angry Dog nailed it.

I'd almost give them a tie, but I think kitchen volume is on the side of Angry Dog, which turns out so many burgers they stack plates of prepped buns on the pass during lunch and dinner service. High volume means lots of practice, and lots of practice usually leads to consistency, so I think you're more likely to get a juicy burger there.

I find it a little odd, though, that two restaurants prepare the exact same burger within a ketchup bottle's throw of each other, and one receives unfettered praise from the entire city, while the other remains mostly unsung.