Burgers

Burger's Lake: The Fort Worth Swimming Hole That Makes a Decent Burger, Too

Close your eyes and imagine a spring-fed swimming hole with a sandy bottom, surrounded by a ring of tall green trees rustling gently in the breeze. You’re floating belly up, arms out, the initial chill of the water wearing off. You stare at the bright blue sky above you. There are kids nearby, horsing around, but not enough to be annoying. You float, swim, wallow or lie around for a few hours, maybe catch a nap under some shade, tan your pasty backside, or bury yourself in the sandy shore.

Now imagine a big, juicy cheeseburger. Appropriately enough, Burger's Lake, which has been a Fort Worth watering hole since the late 1920s, finally has some serious game in the edible burger business. Now, you really can eat a burger at Burger's Lake.

“We remodeled our concessions this past year to make it a better overall experience for our guests,” says Curtis Mahan, who's owned and operated the 28-acre park and lake since 2007. His goal was certainly accomplished.

Now, at the end of a long hard day at the lake — or any time in between — swimmers can enjoy an all-Angus, third-of-a-pound cheeseburger. Along with a basket of fries, it’s $6.50. It’s large and greasy enough to compensate for a day of frolicking in the water and sun, but not too much that it’ll stymie the fun. The only thing missing is an ice cold beer — but Burger's Lake is staunchly anti-booze, and before entering the park, staff will search your cooler to ensure you didn't smuggle any alcohol inside.

The menu also includes chicken strips, nachos and basic concession-stand fare. They’ve also expanded their freezer section with a variety of paletas: watermelon, lime, vanilla, mango chili, tamarindo and more. Serving paletas instead of classic mass-produced American popsicles — which are often little more than corn syrup and food coloring — is a classy move.

For many, the best time at the lake is the latter part of the day, when the early birds start heading home. Antsy lifeguards on break (anywhere from 10 to 20 on constantly rotating shifts) will often put on a little show on the high-dive that draws a mix of laughter and applause from the crowd. The source of the water in the lake is an underground spring that produces 400 gallons per minute at 69 degrees, Mahan says. The water is run through an Ozonator, which is used in conjunction with sand filtration and chlorine to keep it all clean. It's a refreshing spot for a swim — even more so when paired with a paleta.   

A weekday is the best time to go, because it’s obviously less crowded. If you’re able to make it, stay until about closing time to avoid traffic and have a little quality time with that burger. The oasis-like atmosphere, spring-fed water, and various lake toys — water slides, a trapeze, diving boards — make it a fun little getaway. And a big, fat, juicy burger certainly doesn't hurt.

Burger’s Lake, 1200 Meandering Road, Fort Worth. Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, admission is $15 per person.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.