(Update: A previous version of this article stated there was not a Hat Creek in Dallas, but there is.)
Every business starts out small. The restaurant business is cutthroat. It's projected that one-third of restaurants don't survive beyond year one. Many are lucky to ever see a second establishment, much less multiple locations.
Hat Creek Burger Company began as a humble food trailer parked behind a bar in Austin. Today, there are 26 locations, including a dozen around North Texas, mostly north of Dallas.
Do we really need more burger joints? Stop asking foolish questions.
We arrived during lunch, and the place was swarming. There’s a playground outside, and on this perfect day (in the mid-'70s with not a cloud in the sky), at least two dozen kiddos were taking full advantage of it. Also outside: a dining patio so parents can keep a close eye on things.
In addition to the lineup of burgers, Hat Creek offers burger bowls, salads, a couple of chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets and a bunch of milkshakes. Also available: a handful of beers and wine by the glass.
Go for the Southwest ($11.99 for the combo meal). Double-patties with melted pepper Jack, onions and jalapeños, topped with Yellowbird serrano sauce. A subtle sweetness from the Yellowbird sauce works well with the spice level, which is just right. Good burger high on flavor.
The combo meals come with a drink and your choice of either regular fries, sweet potato fries or tater tots. We went with the tots, which were nice and crispy (but otherwise standard), and the sweet potato fries were some of the better ones we’ve had in a while.
Don’t be fooled by the pictures on Hat Creek’s website: The double patty burgers appear towering, but in real life they’re a lot less imposing.
Speaking of pictures, the burgers at Hat Creek aren’t the most picturesque. Not on this day, anyway. The buns arrived as if they had just been in a fight in a back alley. Back alley fightin' buns may be on trend, who knows these days?
After our visit, Hat Creek dropped a new burger, the BBQ Burger, available through May 1. This new creation is topped with coleslaw, barbecue sauce, American cheese and onion rings.
3321 E. Broad St., Mansfield. Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.