I've been working on an upcoming sushi restaurant review, and while conducting some research I stumbled on a quote from former Observer food critic Mark Stuertz. In his 2002 review of his review of Sushi Kyoto II, he lamented the proliferation of sushi restaurants in Dallas. "It's not a trend anymore. It's a near onslaught," wrote the perhaps jaded critic. The quote made its way into Trevor Corson's The Story Of Sushi, to illustrate the rapid growth in sushi restaurants all over the country.
Just three years prior, Stuertz published a sushi primer, with a headline that likened the growth of sushi restaurants to fast fast-food joints. You could almost see his frustration percolating upward into a tuna-colored rage and you've got to feel bad for the guy -- how many words can you use to describe the texture of toro?
While existing sushi restaurants are doing fine these days, it's rare to hear of a new one opening. The luster of a new, exciting cuisine dulled and the momentum lulled. When the economy soured Americans looked for something that was at once budget friendly and decadent. The craved something that would remind them of better days, and wouldn't put a dent in their vacation budget.
And now Mark Stuertz' sushi is my burger.
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Despite the Dow Jones Industrial Average swelling more than 100 percent from its low in 2009, our desire for burgers has only grown. Economics opened our eyes to the burger, but our carnal desire has kept that lust intact in a way that feels permanent. It's entirely possible that someone could win the lottery and still want nothing but burgers (with luxury toppings), and now burger restaurants are opening everywhere, all the time.
I can't blame Dee Lincoln for opening up a burger bar in the old Jo Jo space. If history tells us anything, she'll be very successful. I can think of scores of burger restaurants that have opened in the past two years in Dallas, and the only one I can thing of that closed was Elevation Burger. Burger restaurants are as safe as government bonds -- maybe safer, nowadays -- and the upside is much greater. The cost to set up is relatively low, and you don't have to develop too many new ideas because the recipe for a burger is, basically, beef.
I don't know when sushi restaurants ultimately leveled off, but it was a long time after Stuertz first voiced his complaints. Something tells me we've got a long way to go on the burger front, too.
In the meantime, enjoy Dee Lincoln's Steak and Burger Bar, which is set to open Thursday, September 12 for dinner service, and they'll add lunch service the next week. Juliard Ishizuka, who use to man the range at Dee Lincoln's Dining Room & Bubble Bar, will be heading up the new space. His burgers will set you back $12-15, while a New York Strip steak will set you back $45.