There’s not a soul sitting outside of Maple Landing at the moment. It’s pushing 70 degrees on a windy weekday, and the patio heaters are blazing. It might be the reason there’s no sauce-laced faces at the outdoor tables of this particular lunch rush. It was icy-cold in the morning, which clearly explains the heaters, and it’s flick-mosquitoes-off-your-arm warm in the afternoon.
Inside, you might feel the same back-and-forth: Do you want rib-sticking cold-weather food, like a brisket melt, or a warm weather-ready ahi tuna salad? Chili and cheese on your burger, or would you like the slightly lighter bacon and avocado? Is this a typical dive bar or an all-business Dallas sports bar?
Right now, it’s somewhere in between. You’ll see the tops of whiskey casks high up the broad wood wall above the kitchen. Neon signs and glowing TVs are everywhere. You might see the fleece-vest uniform of a telltale business lunch. The restaurant employs a number of green initiatives to help the earth not die. You’ll need to ask for water if you want some, and the takeout containers will compost better than the American cheese in your bloodstream.
Below the wood wall is a chalkboard that announces Maple’s drinks: wine, beer and bourbon. The bar is an enormous "zero" shape, and cold beer arrives in Mason jars with handles. A wall-sized sketch is as big as the plane it’s depicting, a reminder that you’re a burnt ends-toss away from Love Field.
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A patty melt shows up under swirly marble rye, seated on lettuce, red onion, tomato, bourbon-sweetened onions, mustard and stretchy Swiss cheese. The beef patty has a medium thickness, making a “medium rare” temperature a NASA-level challenge. The sandwich is fine; it could stand a stronger seasoning on the beef, maybe less sweetness in the bourbon-spiked onions. Patty melts are also rarely in need of these ground treats we call "vegetables" — the best patty melts are glowing with Homer Simpson-yellow American cheese. A patty melt is a longstanding antidote to the modern cliche of the "upscale bar," a foundation of bread and stone that often needs to merely absorb the ocean of beer building in your gut. This patty melt felt less dive and more business-as-usual.
So where do you eat when you’re fresh off a bumpy Southwest flight and full of stress-pretzels? Maple Landing is fresh-paint new, but a more reliable burger option, at the moment, would be to wander into Maple & Motor. It’s a tater tot’s throw away. Blues Burgers will also light your hair ablaze. Maple’s barbecue might land smoother than their patty melt, which is also stellar over at Slow Bone.
Maybe Maple Landing is the kind of bar where you fall into a seat, bourbon in tow, and let the indecisive Texas breeze wash off that stale plane air. Dive bars have the patty melts handled.
Maple Landing, 5855 Maple Ave.