I’m not one to argue over the necessity of having a burger on a menu at any restaurant, but here I am at Cafe Salsera, loaded up with a bunch of arguments. There are enough burgers in Deep Ellum to fill a Yeti cooler; do we need two more housed at the Latin cafe that teases with perfect-sounding dishes like "rum-glazed pork skewers"? Does a menu with rum-glazed anything ever need burgers? I loathe myself for even questioning the addition of a burger. Burgers, while costly to the environment, are part of my DNA at this point. Any articles that ask, “Are we in danger of burger overload?” need to be promptly ejected into that weird purgatory in the movie Insidious.
Dallas has a beautifully diverse world of meat sandwiches.
But a subpar burger is one of food’s great letdowns. The best, most simple burgers have a mission-to-Mars accuracy on ingredients, beef and temperature. It’s painful to eat one that lacks thoughtfulness.
On an afternoon that teases the extreme heat that’s to come, an increasingly heavy breeze jostling menus, I’m sitting on the quiet, covered Salsera patio. I order the Deep Salsera burger, which the menu promises is an Angus patty with “salsera aoli,” sautéed mushrooms under a blanket of provolone and a crown of fried onions.
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Slicing it down the center revealed the first misstep — the Angus patty is cooked medium-well to well-done (I wasn’t asked how I wanted it cooked). A hard, slate gray runs throughout the beef. Provolone is curtained over the mushrooms, nicely melted, and a small handful of crispy-to-burnt onions sits on top. The bun is dotted with poppy seeds, which doesn’t make up for the lack of simple salt and pepper. The menu promised aioli, but that seemed to be missing entirely.
The bun is nicely toasted. The provolone, which is at photogenic melt status, adds sharp funkiness to the sauteed mushrooms. It doesn’t save the overcooked beef. Not much can — not even piles upon piles of crispy, golden French fries.
A few weeks ago, Zagat crowned the “30 Under 30,” the “rock stars redefining the industry” in Dallas. Chef Rico Reyes, Salsera executive chef at just 25 years old, was one such rock star. I certainly look forward to more of chef Reyes’ work — I'll be back to try to the ham torta with refried beans, dammit — but the Salsera burger, at 13 bucks, felt like a perfunctory addition to the menu.
Salsera, 2610 Elm St.