Susie Guy rests on a worn-out stool at the counter, the barred windows obstructing traffic on Columbia Avenue, with a grilled cheese in one hand. It’s middle of the afternoon, and her kitchen hisses and hums in between service. The fry master drops a basket down of spiral-cut taters, and ground beef is getting patted down for the charbroiler. The door jangles, and it’s a Dallas Independent School District police officer — he announces it’s his first time to step inside Harvey B’s. A double cheeseburger with blue cheese or bacon are some of their greatest hits, the staff shares with the officer.
It’s one of many reasons to adore Harvey B’s sizzling little burger joint: The answer to the question “what’s good here?” is “the charbroiled double cheeseburger.” There are more reasons. On the right-hand side of the three-paneled menu, a heading reads “Salads/Frito Pie.” “Salads/Frito Pie” is so achingly, beautifully Texan — just reading the words feels something like the clip of Nolan Ryan head-locking Robin Ventura in 1993.
Harvey B’s doesn’t feel like a new restaurant, but it is. The burger joint has been a fixture in East Dallas for only four years, where the staff’s frying marinated-in-buttermilk shards of seasoned, flour-dusted chicken and serving what must be the only “hamburger salad” this side of the Whataburger-Dixon line. Chicken nuggets come as 10-piece platters at Harvey B’s. They smash the sesame-seeded bun into the fire, charring the edges until the seeds give off a strong aroma.
Yes, the cheeseburgers are far from perfect — on a recent visit, a quarter-pound patty was broiled into tree bark, and, depending on the day, your fries may need another pass for crispiness. The food isn’t meant to send Guy Fieri storming in like the Kool-Aid Man. It’s meant to be a neighborhood joint, no more, no less, a burger dive to survive the sharp tides of change.
Susie Guy shares their complex burger technique: “We just pat it, make it every morning, throw it on the grill with salt and pepper seasoning,” she says.
The food’s one of the reasons Harvey B’s doesn’t feel like a “new” joint. The neighborhood feel of the place is another reason: Guy’s been running Harvey’s kitchen for three years and has lived in East Dallas for three decades. The East Dallas pride is on the walls, including artsy photos of the Egg Roll Hut across the street.
Any changes in the works at Harvey B’s? Should we watch the skies for an avocado toast signal?
“Nope. There’s been talk about making the menu simpler,” Guy says.
Sounds fine, as long as they don’t pry “Salads / Frito Pie” from our cold, dead hands.
Harvey B's, 4506 Columbia Ave. #100
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.