You may have a few questions as the Santana, one of Blues Burgers’ new burgers, arrives on its metal tray. Those questions likely include: “Why are they doing this to me?” or “What have you done?” or “Am I going to be OK?” Why so many questions? Because you've ordered an Angus beef burger topped with a cheese-stuffed enchilada and smothered in chili con carne, pico de gallo and a handful of jalapeños. The spice and the questions gradually increase like an orchestra tuning before a concert, yet somehow, it’s delicious.
Blues Burgers has a history of messing with the cheeseburger formula. Brett Baldwin, who co-runs Blues Burgers and is working the register when I’m there, pushes the boundaries of sensible sandwiching just enough to challenge without crossing over into annoying novelty. Many of the burgers aren’t simple, and some aren’t all that cheap, but they’re executed with care and a love of good, greasy bar food.
The HMF burger — confirmed acronym for “Hot Motherfucker”— comes with a slice of ghost pepper cheese, griddled jalapeños and a “spicy blues sauce.” It’s also one of the best burgers in Dallas and is ranked on Texas Monthly’s best-in-the-state list. Another option, one of the best, comes with bacon, grilled bologna, a fried egg and pickles. Damn, it’s good.
Dallas concrete is heating up like a high-wattage bulb the day of my visit, so a good, spicy kick to my gallbladder is just what the doctor ordered. The traffic zooms by on West Mockingbird; this is a place to peel into after you land at Love Field.
The Santana burger arrives on its tray, a buttery, puffy-soft bun surrounding Angus beef, griddled until it has a proper salt-and-pepper sear, topped with a high-octane cheddar enchilada. This is going to end me, right? No, I’m going to be OK. Tex-Mex and an Angus beef patty on one sandwich? Add some queso and a Willie Nelson LP, and you’ve got the most Texan combo of all time.
I slice it down the center to reveal a spot-on medium-rare cook, juices flowing, and a tumbling scoop of fresh pico de gallo punctuated by cilantro. The blistered jalapeños and bright salsa cut through the richness of the chili con carne (a blend of spices and sautéed ground beef). The heat ratchets up. The cheese inside the fried corn tortilla melts into a blanket, calming things down. You’ll want a cold beer and 40 napkins.
There are only a handful of burger joints that know how to mess with the simple cheeseburger formula and still maintain a good thing. Push the science too far, and you’ll get liquid Gouda injections and waffles instead of buns. Blues Burgers has found the right balance — with a little heat.
Blues Burgers, 1820 W. Mockingbird Lane
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