A Letter to the Burger at Stock & Barrel

Dear burger,

If you're reading this, you are smart enough to realize what you are. You're special. You're a giant. If you've come this far, maybe you're willing to go a little farther. It's a tough road ahead in Dallas. There are a lot of great burgers here, many of them under $10. You'll have to stretch your legs, work out the kinks, and get in the fight. But I believe in you. You're an instant classic.

There was a flash of rain last night in Oak Cliff -- a crisp, full rainbow soared over Dallas -- and it left us running through the doors at Stock and Barrel with a wimpy umbrella. I sat at the counter, watching the kitchen's measured movements. Geometric medallions of meatloaf seared on the grill. The Lady Friend and I got crab fritters, thumb-sized pops of fried crab that were so light they caused anti-gravity, and the best charred artichoke I've ever had. The grilled flavor meeting the salt of the Parmesan and the mayo dip was out of this world.

We ordered you too, burger. We ordered you with Yukon fries (which are smashed potatoes, but that's neither here nor there. Let's focus on you). I don't know where you've been all my life, but I was in love with you the first time I saw you bathing quickly under the heat lamp.

I must have reacted palpably, somehow, because the Lady Friend asked, "Whoa -- you OK?" "No. Yeah, I'm fine. I'm fine." You wore a pickle on your head, under a bun as high as a mountain. I think it'd be right if you arrived at tables with an explosive burst of classical music. Maybe Yo-Yo Ma. You deserve Yo-Yo Ma.

It's true you're 14 bucks. That's an insurmountable obstacle. But you're brisket. You're a burger. Be brisket and be proud of your huge flavor. Be proud of the way the cheddar, thin and sharp enough to cut the plate in half, had that perfect melt, and the way the juices and onion worked with the tomato jam. You're like a great cookout burger, with more fastidious love. There's even that really happy lettuce slice on there. Also, juices. There were so many juices.

I'm sorry if I'm being too forward or intense, I just care. I'll keep an eye out for you, as the hunger grows, and ready it when the time comes. When I think of the best cheeseburger in Dallas, I'll think of you. Remember, burger, a good cheeseburger is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good burger ever really dies. It's in the damn blood now. I will be hoping this letter finds you, and finds you well.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Nick Rallo
Contact: Nick Rallo