Every week, it feels more official: Dallas has expertly somersaulted into the golden age of cheeseburgers. We’ve reached such a high point that enjoyable burgers can be found at restaurants that focus solely on fried chicken.
Street’s Fine Chicken, a poultry-themed restaurant wherein a mural of American Gothic with chickens instead of farmers is on the wall, has a havarti-topped burger. At Sumo Shack on SMU Boulevard, there’s a bao bun stuffed with, essentially, an homage to a fast-food burger. Even the niche restaurants have FOMOOB, or fear of missing out on burgers.
I’m not complaining. After all, what’s to complain about a time when the simple toppings of a burger, as well as the beef, taste like the damn early-morning breeze on a Texas farm?
Fat Chicken, led by chef DJ Quintanilla and owner Linda Mazzei, features a burger that tastes like sunshine and morning rooster calls. The egg on top is barn-white with a precisely marigold yolk. The beef, a blend of ground brisket and ground short rib, is from 44 Farms. The chef salts and peppers each side and slides it on the flattop to caramelize with a pad of butter. Hellman’s mayonnaise, layered on the bottom of the brioche bun, is the only ingredient that won't remind you of a farm.
I’m the lone wolf sitting outside Trinity Groves' newish restaurant, rain in the air, a small trough of buttered popcorn in front of me, “Friends in Low Places” keeping me company. Garth Brooks, free popcorn and Texas weather? That'll do. We burger-eaters feast like kings in Dallas these days. A crow the size of a dinosaur lands on the chair next to me, and I decide it's a good omen.
The burger arrives shortly after with fries (75 cents extra), top bun ajar to show off the farm egg and long, curly strips of applewood-smoked bacon. The construction is a bit imprecise – a hulking slice of iceberg lettuce allows the patty to slip-slide over the bottom bun. The patty’s been cooked longer than medium rare, but miraculously stays juicy throughout. 44 Farms' beef is so beautiful that President Trump would still get a juicy burger after ordering his usual well done.
The bacon and egg are delicious on their own. Combined with a pile of their crispy fries and carrier of sauces (chipotle jam, creamy buttermilk), you’ve got a big, pre-nap meal.
Each ingredient on the Fat Chicken burger, including a tomato that tastes like a rainstorm, is thoughtful. With a bit more care into the construction and cautious handling of the patty, this could be one of Dallas’ greats – even if it’s a fried chicken joint.
Fat Chicken, 3011 Gulden Lane
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