Last week the Dallas Morning News tallied the votes and crowned its burger king. Angry Dog, the Deep Ellum grease pit with a loyal following, beat out Mooyah Burger, the Dallas-based burger chain built on double-meat patties and french fries with a cooking process you need an engineering degree to understand. (The menu board claims it's a six-step, 24-hour ordeal.)
It's not easy being number two -- just ask the kid that almost caught a baseball at Rangers Stadium the other night -- so I stopped into the Dallas location to see what it takes to be a reader-voted, second-best burger in Dallas.
Mooyah greets you with cartoon-colored walls and art with all sorts of information about its food. They use fresh, lean, American, never frozen beef, according to one display. Idaho potatoes are hand cut on-site, another proclaims. Other information is more subtly displayed. Ovens line the wall behind the cash register, with house-baked buns for all to lust after. Boxes of potatoes stored by the door let you know you're eating spuds from Cross Valley Farms.
I ordered a regular (two patties), no cheese, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and mayo, a small order of fries, and a small drink. It ran about nine bucks and change, and came in a white paper sack peppered with more information about the Mooyah burger, which I think is best described as an elevated fast-casual burger experience on par with Smashburger, Elevation Burger and Five Guys. Each of these chains is playing the same price point; they're just doing it with a different set of gimmicks to differentiate their offerings.
Mooyah's bun is nice, and I appreciate that it's baked on Silplat right before my eyes. It's better than Subway bread, which smells terrible, but it still lacks character and structure.
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The beef is fine. They get it from Wolverine Packing right here in Dallas, and CEO Alan Hixon told me it's pink-slime free. The patties are really thin; fans of massive, juicy patties won't be happy here. Still, it's well seasoned, and while I won't call it juicy, the meat manages to retain some moisture even though the cooks prepare them well done.
Mooyah's french fries, however, deserve serious praise. While Hixon refused to tell me anything about that six-step process of his (I'm guessing cut, soak, fry, refrigerate, fry and season), whatever he's doing works. They are better than the fries I've had at much nicer, full-service restaurants in Dallas, showing that a tight, narrowly focused menu has its advantages.
Is Mooyah the best burger in Dallas? No. It's better than Whataburger and the other fast food chains, though.
Is Mooyah's burger rightfully placed just behind Angry Dog's? That's harder to say. Pitting a full-service-bar-burger against a walk-up-paper-sack-burger is like comparing Fords and Vespas -- they're just too different. But if you held a gun to my head -- which, let's be honest, would be a really extreme measure, considering the topic -- I'd have to vote Mooyah. The ingredients across the menu taste fresher to me, and the french fries are just that good.