6248 East Mockingbird Lane
Dude Factor: 8, or Seth Green, on a scale of 1 (Dustin Diamond) to 10 (Seann William Scott)
I recently realized that I'm rapidly approaching the occasion of my ten year high school reunion. So it seemed appropriate to venture into my deep, dark, dudely past this week and revisit one of my old high school haunts--Burger House.
Enlisting a Burger House virgin from my posse of Observer homies, I hit up the Mockingbird location on my lunch hour, hoping the midday surge would allow me to camouflage myself from any diners I might have gone to high school with--or their parents, for that matter. Granted, the original Highland Park location is probably closer to our offices, but as an East Dallas boy I've never darkened its door and I intend to keep that way, lest I get a raging case of khaki disease.
Walking in the door, the familiarity was almost sickening--I might as well have walked straight into 1999. The menu looks exactly the same; they still proudly display some local kid's ancient Burger House-related science fair project; and the retired jerseys of Woodrow Wilson High School sports "stars" are still hung in the dimly lit back corner by the bathroom, as they should be. I even spied a couple of the same managers working there.
And the smell...good God, the smell.
You see, Burger House uses a "special seasoning salt" that combines salt, pepper and Lord knows what else to create something akin to Mama or Papa Dash--but way, way stinkier. This signature touch results in a tell-tale condition my high school friends called "Burger House Breath," a dead giveaway if you'd just skipped class for a sly off campus lunch. Unfortunately, while the spice is certainly noticeable, it's also the Achilles heel of the place. A single fragrant Burger House burp can cause one to swear off the place for several weeks, no matter how good the meal was going down.
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Bellying up to the counter, my associate and I ordered a chicken-fried steak sandwich and a bacon cheeseburger, respectively, along with a giant basket of fries doused in the aforementioned special salt. I vividly recall paying somewhere around $1.79 for my patented high school combination of two corn dogs, cheese fries and a drink. Alas, my high school buddies hung up their Burger House uniforms long ago, so I was forced to pay the still-quite-reasonable sum of $7.50 for my meal.
Digging in, my bro remarked at how much better the food was at Burger House than it was at his favored high school diner, but then again, I've yet to hear how the meal affected the rest of his afternoon, if you catch my drift.
My fries were damn near perfect and the burger was delicious, even if the patty was a touch on the skinny side. But then again, that's why my buddies used to order ridiculously proportioned 5x5s here--there's even a picture on the wall of some fella taking on a 25-patty burger, God bless him. Honestly, I found the grub much better than I remembered it, though my nostalgia is rapidly diminishing with the onset of accompanying heartburn.
And I would kill for some gum right now.