Burgers

The Burger at Smoke Should Be Recognized as a Texas Landmark

A rancher’s gloves clapping together, bats exploding from the Congress Avenue bridge, Tommy Lee Jones giving me a wink and a shoulder squeeze (on horseback), a Rangers game in July with that one guy hitting the snare drum — this is the movie-style montage that ran through my head when I took a bite of the Smoke’s EB&D Loaded Up and Truckin' Burger. Its flavor profile: a cowboy hugging you firmly and saying, “It’s OK. Everything’s OK.”

On a weekday that's as bright and clear as a bell, I'm sitting at Smoke’s bar by myself, facing chalk art of a pig that is oddly pleased after being stuffed under the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. The burger, probably named after a Jerry Reed song or a Clint Eastwood movie, towers over the table, a sandwich nearly as big as the cow that it came from.

The burger’s construction: bacon, thick as a book, drapes over the cheddar-topped burger, and a single frittered egg balances atop top bun. This is a $15 burger that turns heads. Matthew McConaughey should accompany this burger. He could sit down right next to you and ask, “How’s it taste?” as you take a bite. “Mmmmphary good!” you’d sputter in response.

Slicing it down the center reveals a wild cross-section of chopped lettuce, long-cut bacon and pink grilled beef, the frittered egg like a Cyclops eye on this beefy giant. It’s packed with fantastically woody and smoky flavor from an open fire. The beef, if a touch over medium rare, tastes like Texas sunshine and a grill that’s hot enough to create a mirage.

Bacon is thick but has crispy edges, much like the farm egg. You’d do well to add a couple of Smoke’s iconic pickles, and even better to avoid any condiments. Keep the focus on the open fire and grill flavor. Sharp cheddar adds a bite, and the bun is decadently butter-grilled.

There’s no good reason not to try the burger at Smoke, especially if you live in Texas.

Smoke, 901 Fort Worth Ave.