It is now known that the Socal burger at Ten Bells Tavern comes with two omens. The first came in the form of a kind waiter, who warned me of a possible doom: "Leave the wrapper on as a long as you can." I thought, "the prophecy of the meat juice is real!" The other came in the form of a black cat. Moments before diving into one of the most intense burgers in Dallas, a night-black cat jumped onto my table. It stared at me, and I stared right back. Seriously, there's a photo.
Ten Bells Tavern, which the Observer gave Best Bar Food last year, has excellent marksmanship. Their wings come with a blue cheese fondue, the BLT comes with an S for spicy shrimp, and they have a damn french fry sandwich called the Ten Bells Butty. Side note: We'd like everything with a side of spicy butty. The other night, on the sun-stroked patio next to the quaint little tin house, I got a burger that should have come with the Game of Thrones theme.
It's called the Socal burger, and it's 14 bucks. It's an homage to the pastrami-topped concoctions of Southern California (see: the pastrami and cheese wrapped, chili-topped Oki Dog). It came with onions, smoked cheddar and Swiss cheese, and pastrami and a sliced hot link. Pastramiandahotlink. The first bite confirmed the nice waiter's prophecy: The London Times paper it was wrapped in saved my sleeves from a juice wave. For this one, you'll need the two elbows propping your burger up like a tripod.
The first bite was all tender pastrami and the salty explosion of the hot red links. I peeled the London Times paper off the back and gave the burger a huge bite. The meat was juicy, with a blade of pink down the center. The french fries were crisp with those perfect micro-chops of chives. Some complaints: The brioche bun blew apart half way through eating the burger like a Robocop villain. Also, some of the parts were better than the whole. Those hot links, on their own, are spicy and great. With the burger, it dominated the flavor.
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This isn't challenge food or fast-food novelty. Ten Bells has a talent for intelligently-designed bar food. This burger, however, comes with a little bit of Godzilla. Beware its wrath.