If you’re at Lakewood Landing, as an example, you might have a basket in front of you like a bird’s nest — with a bacon cheeseburger in it instead of precious eggs. The tiny TV in the corner has the game on — whatever the season is — or a good, old movie. Those are the experiences that we miss: The little things you notice up when you linger long enough at a bar.
The cheeseburger at the Landing is top-notch in this era of takeout; it’s an experience when eating at the bar. It’s one of a few experiences to look forward to in the year to come (we anticipate with longing and hope as vaccines work their way around the country).
316 W. Davis St., 214-888-0150
This is an eat-aloner: Find a space at the counter, prop your elbows up, and pretend, for a second, like there’s no trouble in the world. Jon Stevens’ brisket burger is a celebratory experience, like a full-glass cheers to your soul for achieving it. They grind brisket (75%) and chuck (25%), give it a hit of salt and coarse cracks of black pepper, and it hits a wood grill. The heat locks in the luxurious juices. It gets a few, humongous-ly flavored toppings: Aged cheddar, caramelized onions, spicy bread and butter pickles, and some baby arugula for a pop in the head of peppery greens. It’s stupendous.
4029 Crutcher St., 214-272-7312
Slice this burger down the middle, and you’ll find Dallas’ version of a “Juicy Lucy” (a burger with cheese on the inside) — it’s stretched with mozzarella and jalapenos and caramelized onions. It’s no gimmick — it’s the good kind of fast-and-local food. Chef and owner Airric Heidelberg’s everything-from-scratch East Dallas spot walks the line of fresh herbs and seasoning with spicy, peppery comfort food. A flash-fried basil leaf rounds out the beef and cheese.
4001 Cedar Springs Road, (214) 272-7127
The night cook’s feet nearly leave the ground when he’s leaning into the spatula, as Mariel Street tells it. That’s how their cheeseburger is one of the best doubles in the city: The patties are wrestled into submission, one Bloodsport-level slug into the insanely hot griddle, and it’s all crust. The patties are golf-ball sized before that — then utterly demolished, flattening the patty until it’s crust from end-to-end. “You have to be able to borderline see the grill under it. And then you walk away. It takes 30 seconds,” Street says.
Each patty gets draped with American cheese, then grilled onions and special sauce on a sesame seed bun. It’s transcendent with a cold beer — we can’t wait to saddle up to a bar.
4612 Gus Thomasson Road, 972-863-9220
It’s as simple as this: Hot, salty fries and a damn good cheeseburger. The griddle they’re firing on in the Porky’s kitchen is hot enough to sear the patty until it has a horizon of char. The menu is filled with every option under the sun, but K.I.S.S. is the motto here — add an over-easy egg if it's that kind of day. Bacon is fine, too, crunchy planks of the old-school stuff. It’s a casual cheeseburger and fries meal that bests any fast food out there.
1621 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-628-7900
Some burgers deserve a towering wall of beer selections. Chef Suki Otsuki’s 44 Farms cheeseburger, with a tall and wide-as-a-mountain beef flavor, seasoned only with salt and pepper, topped with Tillamook cheddar and a Thousand Island sauce, is a grassy beer’s best friend. A malty beer would work, too — hell, make it a flight of beers (they’re open for dine-in with reduced capacity or curbside pickup). Remember ordering a flight of beers at your favorite pubs?
3311 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-521-0295
Look for the specials on the chalkboard: One day it’s sharp, explosive piquillo peppers and lip-smacking goat cheese, another day it’s crackly bacon and creamy Cotswold cheese. Mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion, or whatever’s fresh: Trust whatever Janice Provost is sending out of Parigi’s kitchen. The patty is from Crystal Creek Farm. The flavor is high-as-the-sky beef. Good fries and good buttered bun help out, too. They also have curbside pick-up and delivery from Alto. You can dine in, but you must wear a mask. We’re hopeful for the days where waiters can see our ridiculous grins free of a cloth mask.