Over the bar, chef Miriam Jimenez is holding her arms out as wide as her reach can go. It’s a striking photo that spans nearly the length of the wall. The meaning feels crystal clear: Chef Jimenez is ready to wrap the entire restaurant in a vigorous hug. Sitting within reach of the bar, it’s easy to imagine the chef's Dallas-spanning hug would lift us all clean off of our feet.
Whatever the interpretation, the same energy that’s on the walls is in the food. The Miriam Cocina Latina (2015 Woodall Rodgers Freeway) kitchen is a beehive: Fire’s leaping from pans, phone are ringing and the chips are avocado salsa-ing. The Dominicana Burger is startling from the moment it’s delivered: A ribboned slaw that rests over the cheese-free patty, clings to a smoky, creamy, Arizona-desert-orange sauce. There isn’t a burger in the area that’s similar. Knifing down the center of the sandwich sets the burnt orange sauce loose — a yolk-like lava that runs over the cliff-face of the sandwich. The bun is soft, and the hamburger sends off sensations of grill fire. This is one of Dallas' best new sandwiches — easily one of the best new burgers for under 12 bucks. Order it medium rare.
It’s one of a handful of new gems in the city. Let’s meet the rest of them.
The Double Bacon Cheeseburger at FoxyCo
We’re not done with the over-$15 cheeseburger yet, are we? Chef Jon Stevens isn’t done. He’s grinding Bar N Ranch wagyu-style with brisket and chuck in-house, and smashing it into a wood-burning griddle separated only by a white onion disc. The result is a salty-juiced, charred-sweet by onion and mega beefy flavored hamburger. He adds two slices of aged white cheddar curtained over the stack. Yes, you’re paying more for good beef and mountainous flavors. No, you're not paying for overwrought complications.
FoxyCo, 921 N. Riverfront Blvd., Suite 300 (Design District)
The Chorizo Burger at Bo-Leo
This is a burger that finds all the right sensations. It knows balance and how to use pickled things. Pickled onions and thinly sliced jalapeños are the key flash of acid over the seasoned, rich chorizo. Chipotle aioli is smoky, cooling. Cheese is molten, flowing over the patty. The football-shaped patty (it's hand-formed to fit the oblong bolillo roll it’s housed in) gets a near inch of blackened cap from the griddle. This is why you eat griddled burgers — the fattiness of chorizo seals the juices in under a wall of crust. A salty-crunchy cap encompasses the chorizo blend. The roll is soft behind a crackly layer, too — the bread breaks into shards like a great fresh baguette when you slice it in half. There's no reason for Bo-Leo to have a perfect burger, but there it is.
Bo-Leo, 4300 Parry Ave. (South Dallas)
The Billy Burger at Billy Can Can
Chef Matt Ford’s grind of 44 Farms — a blend of shoulder clod and belly — carries a powerful sock-in-the-brain of beef flavor. Plan for drifting daydreams about this burger: It lives in your mind long after you leave. The best patties have the flavors of fire, salt and open-range beef; it tastes like clear skies and salty juices. In other words: Despite the price and the busy surroundings, Billy Can Can has a campfire burger. It’s cleanly seasoned with salt and pepper only, Longhorn cheddar gets draped over the pickly-sharp toppings to hold everything in place. Cheddar should always hold things in place.
Billy Can Can, 2386 Victory Park Lane (Victory Park)
The Korean Army Burger at Munchiez
Are you familiar with food cravings that land like the Incredible Hulk's transformations? These are the cravings that take over your mind, morphing your physical being until you’ve destroyed buildings and cars, and drop you in the middle of nowhere with tattered pants splashed by mysterious sauces. The Korean Army Burger induces cravings like this. For starters, the burger ($9.50 regular, $4.75 mini) topped the fresh bolt of crunch from the slaw, in a creamy dressing, layered with ham, egg, American cheese and, yes, sweet grape jam. It must be the grape jam that sets off the transformation — an order of one mini burger may result in the destruction of two, maybe three, more.
Munchiez, 2625 Old Denton Road, Suite 606, Carrollton
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The Full Moon Burger at Porky’s
You'll find Porky's in the strip mall off the main road. It’s new and a little lonely, solo-standing in a bare lot, intimidatingly flanked by an Auto Zone and Dollar General. Don’t worry, Porky’s, we got you. Porky’s knows the power of executing a simple thing with precision — on two visits my burger had a thick cap of crust that eclipsed the burger's horizon. The patty is salted and peppered generously. On the Full Moon, a pile of thin-sliced mushrooms, jalapeños, lettuce, tomato, pickle and diced onion make you feel like you’ve had a few of those “vegetables” that people should eat. Molten American cheese binds the toppings together. It’s a two-handed diner gem. Eat with friends to help new, good businesses in Dallas thrive.
Porky's Burgers and Wings, 4612 Gus Thomasson Road, Mesquite