Monday, December 30, 2013

Big State Drug

Since many of the Burger Babes are teachers and we have two glorious weeks off, we opted for a daytime excursion this month and we went to Big State Drug in Irving. Big State is a family owned pharmacy/diner/gift shop that's been around since 1948.  This was actually my third time to visit Big State, although the first time I've been for a burger.  Previously I've had the fried egg sandwich and the BLT . . . highly recommend either of them!

Service was super fast.  Esther, who arrived a few minutes after we had ordered, got her meal at the same time we did.  I guess it helps that it's a small establishment; it seats maybe 15???

I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger with fries.  After just a few minutes, this is what was delivered to me:

The patty was done, with a bit of char, which I always appreciate.  And it was a nice thickness.  Not so thin that you want to order double meat, but not so thick that it doesn't fit on the bun.  I'm always intrigued by the condiments a burger place offers.  Big State will prepare your burger with mustard, mayo, or both, but it's up to the customer to add the ketchup.  To me, ketchup is the non-negotiable.  But no biggie, easy to add.  As usual, the shredded lettuce made a mess, but I fought through it.  The bacon was definitely the absolute best part of the burger.  My burger had three beautifully perfectly prepared strips of bacon, overflowing out of my burger.  The fries, unfortunately, were not anything to speak of.  I'm pretty sure they are Ore Ida.  And I'm fine with Ore Ida when you add some seasoning and do something to make it your own.  Just like a brownie or cookie mix.  Add a chopped up Milky Way to the brownie batter, or a teaspoon of almond extract to the sugar cookie mix to make it have that homemade feel.  That's how I feel about Ore Ida french fries.  

Overall, I'm not super impressed with the burgers at Big State.  Future visits would include the aforementioned fried egg sandwich, or even a malt.  I know that many consider Big State an Irving institution, but after having had so many fabulous burgers over the last few years, it's hard to get excited about their burgers.  Not that they're bad, they're just not great.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

BurgerFest 2013

Yesterday was the first ever (and I hope first of many) BurgerFest!  It was in the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market and you really couldn't have asked for a better day.  After twenty-four hours of dreary weather and much needed rain, we had sunny skies with temperatures in the low 80s; perfect for roaming Deep Ellum in search of fabulous burgers!

Here's a list of the players.  While we didn't get to everyone, we did tried a combination of familiar and new.

  • Twisted Root
  • Maple & Motor
  • Stackhouse
  • Chop House
  • Mixed Up Burgers
  • Max's Wine Dive
  • Haystack
  • Whiskey Cake
  • Asador
  • Easy Slider
  • Cook Hall
  • Ten Bells Tavern
  • Garden Cafe

Burgers we already love - 
Because we already know about the awesomeness of Maple & Motor, Stackhouse, Chop House, and Mixed Up Burgers we opted not to visit these tents.  And while Twisted Root is always a Top 5 burger for me, I had never tried the goat meat.  So I convinced Kelly to try it with me.  And it was a good burger.  I'm not sure if it was the goat cheese that enhanced the meat, but I did enjoy this slider.  The bread seemed different this time and it wasn't as great as it normally is, but it still put a smile on my face.

New Burgers - 
I was excited that most of the participants were new to me, and a few of them I had been hearing great things about, so I was excited to try Haystack, Whiskey Cafe, and Easy Slider before making them official Burger Babe outings.

Haystack's offering was a chicken fried burger with gravy and jalapeno slices.  Strange, but yummy!  Super yummy, in fact!  We left off the jalapenos, although I can't help but think that they would really tie everything together.  But the chicken fried hamburger patty has a great flavor and the texture was perfect.  Just the right amount of crunch. And the jalapeno-bacon cream gravy was delicious!  Made me want a plate of mashed potatoes.  I think Haystack will soon be an official Burger Babe outing.

The other place I've been hearing about for months is Whiskey Cake.  And they definitely brought their A-game yesterday!  Instead of just putting any old burger out there, Whiskey Cake brought the BBQ Banh Mi - roasted pork, tangy veggies, cilantro, and Asian BBQ, all atop a brisket patty and nestled between a crispy baguette.  I'm pretty sure this was my favorite of the day.  Such a great combination of flavors and textures.  Pure yumminess!  I cannot wait to visit Whiskey Cake and try some of their other creations!

Not sure how we can make Easy Slider a Burger Babes outing since it's a food truck, but it definitely deserves our attention.  They had two offerings, but we chose Sweet & Lowdown.  Goat cheese, strawberry jam, and bacon on an Angus beef patty.  What a savory combination! The goat cheese and strawberry jam was so wonderful and to add in the crispy bacon was a touch of genius.  This one was Kelly's favorite and I don't blame her.  I'd have to say it was close behind the Bahn Mi from Whiskey Cake for me.  I will absolutely be paying more attention to Easy Slider's schedule from here on out.

We also tried Asador and Cook Hall, both are restaurants in hotels, the Renaissance and W, respectively.  I have mixed opinions on Asador.  The ingredients were great, including the grilled mushroom.  You could tell that they didn't use a basic crimini from Tom  Thumb.  It had a very deep, rich flavor to it.  I think they used a chipotle aioli, but I can't recall for sure.  Whatever it was, it was really good, too.  But what got me was the rareness of the meat.  And this girl likes rare meat, but this was a little too rare for me.  So, I'm not sure that this will make the cut for Burger Babes.  And we were both lukewarm on the Cook Hall burgers as well.  They had two choices, so we got one of each.  The BBQ Meatball slider had crispy potato strings, sweet pepper jam, scamorza cheese, and BBQ braised meatballs.  It wasn't bad.  In fact, I really liked the sweet pepper jam.  But not what I look for when I want a burger.  We also tried the Bacon Glazed Short Rib Slider; cheddar cheese, horseradish mustard, arugula, and a sliced tomato.  Again, good, just nothing outstanding.  I think if you're staying in either one of these hotels and you don't want to venture out, either place can give you a good burger.  But then again, if you're visiting Dallas, why not get out and try some of our amazingly fantastic burger joints?

There were only three that were new to us and we didn't try - Max's Wine Dive, Garden Cafe, and Ten Bells Tavern.  Garden Cafe was not really a possibility since it was a vegetarian burger.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's not how this girl rolls.  Ten Bells Tavern is in Bishop Arts, so I'm sure I'll get there eventually.  And I know that Max's Wine Dive is on my list of Dallas eateries to visit.  I've heard great things about it and their slogan is "Fried chicken and champagne...what the hell not?"

If I had one critique about BurgerFest it would be about the drinks.  Looked all over that place for a Diet Coke, but to no avail.  Luckily, Yellow Bar was there with sweet tea.  

In addition to the burger tents, there were a few vendors as well.  Everything was handmade and there were some very creative people out there with really unique products.

All in all, it was great outing!
Kelly and me with our Sangria Winesicles!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chop House Burgers

Chop House Burgers in Arlington hasn't been around as long as some of the other great burger joints in town.  But in its short life, it has gained a loyal following and a stellar reputation, all cemented by an appearance on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives in 2012.  When you go, prepare to wait in line.  But if you're with friends, that's actually a blessing as you get to spend more time with them.  And even though you may wait 20 minutes in line to order, your food will come out amazingly fast.  There are about 10 burgers to choose from, including a vegetarian option, but most people I've talked to recommend the Chop House Burger and that is what I went with.  What makes this burger so special is the actual meat patty, which is a char grilled ground beef and slow roasted brisket mix.  Yes, you read correctly. and you can absolutely tell that it is a mix of the two.  Very moist and packed full of flavor; with one bite you can tell why Chop House has become so popular so quickly.  And to add that extra kick of flavor, the Chop House is served with a homemade steak sauce.  Now, I've never been big on steak sauce, so I ordered mine on the side.  It was super fabulous and really brought everything together.  The bacon and melted cheddar were simply icing on the cake of this great burger.  

Chop House didn't break my top 5, although I would say it's in the top 10.  Two things prevented it from entering the top 5 - shredded lettuce and the bun.  The bun is a bit of an oxymoron.  The menu clearly states that it is served on a butter toasted bun and it most definitely was.  And I love a butter toasted bun.  However, there were parts of my bun that were super soggy, I guess from the tomatoes.  One thing that I totally can't stand is soggy bread.  Was almost a deal breaker.  The sogginess and the toastiness of the bun was a bit confusing to the palette.  

Overall, all five of the Burger Babes were very pleased with their choices.

As usual, we had quite a sampling of fried goodness.  You can order a basket or a side.  Even if you're sharing, the side is an ample enough serving. Fried pickles were good, nothing outstanding in my opinion, although Kelly really loved them.  I'm still undecided about the onion rings.  The flavor was greatness, but there was a heaviness about them that I really can't explain.  It might be because I've gotten so used to tempura-style onion rings that anything else seems much heavier.  But again, awesome flavor!!!  The sweet potato fries were probably my favorite though, and what I would order next time.

Chop House is deep in Arlington and probably quite a trek for many of you.  If you can combine a visit to Chop House with a Rangers or Cowboy game, that would be ideal.  But if you can't, it's still worth the trip to experience that incredible ground beef and brisket combination.  And if you go on your birthday, your burger is free!

Things to know before you go:

  • You may wait in line to order for a good 20 minutes.
  • Older building, crummy AC, especially in August
  • Your patty will be cooked well unless specified otherwise.  I asked for medium and it bordered on medium rare, which was fine with me.
  • BYOB
Next month, the Burger Babe outing will be a touch different as there is a Burger Fest in Deep Ellum on the 21st.  Hope to see you there.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Square Burger

Two Burger Babes headed north to McKinney to try out the much touted Square Burger in McKinney this month.  It's a small restaurant on the McKinney Square with an extensive beer list and a variety of burgers.  There are a lot of places to eat on McKinney's Square, but Square Burger was by far the busiest.  We waited about 10 minutes for our table; the hostess took our number and offered to call us when the table was ready so we could walk around.

As soon as we were seated, we ordered some mac and cheese for our appetizer.  Super creamy and sprinkled with ham and English peas, it was quite yummy.  The serving size was generous; it could be someone's main dish or four people could share it and be good.

Mandy ordered the Bacon and Smoked Cheddar BBQ Burger while I opted for the Mushroom-Border Burger.  And we each made to sure to order a different side for sharing.  The burgers are 7 ounces, but you can request 5 ounces instead.  I would definitely advise going for the smaller burger as it is still plenty!  And instead of ordering the full side, you can get a smaller version when you order it with your burger.  Again, that is absolutely the way to go.  Even with a smaller burger and a smaller side, I still couldn't finish everything.  I do appreciate when the waitstaff asks how you want your burger cooked and when they explain what their medium is, which is what our fabulous, soft-spoken waitress did.  It did seem to take awhile to get our burgers, maybe because we were both hungry and the restaurant was full of amazing aromas.

After about twenty minutes, this is what arrived at our table:

Obviously a work of art!  The chef at Square is generous with the servings, almost too generous.  My mushrooms were beautifully sauteed and the avocado was creamy and flavorful.  While the avocado was plentiful, it was in one big chunk.  I would prefer it sliced as the entire thing went shooting out of my burger with the first bite.  The bacon was perfectly crisped and chopped, sprinkled over Swiss cheese.  The Iceberg lettuce was chopped like a wedge salad.  Different, but too much.  I had to peel off about 4 layers to make my burger manageable.  The bun was delicious, buttered on top, which means you need extra napkins.  I couldn't quite tell you, but something was just a tiny bit off with the flavor of the patty.  It might have been the fact that I was expecting a little more pink in my burger, I'm not really sure.  Unfortunately, whatever it is, it keeps me from going gaga over the burger.

The sides were absolutely wonderful!  The onion rings were made from white onions and fried tempura-style. They were light and crispy, but not crunchy crispy.  And the seasoning was spot on.  The sweet potato fries were also great.  Small and thin with the perfect crispiness, they were served with a housemade garlic aioli. And all burgers come with a tempura fried pickle spear!  Awesomeness!

Always the question is, would I go back to an establishment for its burger?  In this case, there are two answers.  Would I drive from Euless to McKinney just for this burger?  No.  If I'm in the McKinney-Allen area and needed a place to eat, would I go back?  Probably so.  Well, actually, I do need to go back at least once for their fried apple pie, drizzled with caramel sauce and served with cheddar cheese.  We were just too full to even think about it.  Not true . . . I totally thought about it!

Thanks for stopping by.  Next month we visit Chop House Burgers in Arlington.  Looking forward to this one since Guy Fieri visited this place for Triple D last year.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Mention Wingfield's to most Dallasites and they'll know exactly what you're talking about.  One of the biggest, baddest burgers in the state.  Possibly anywhere.  A perennial contender for not just the best burger in Dallas, but in Texas, Wingfield's is so legendary they don't even have a website.  Think about that - in 2013, one of the most well known burger places in the state does their business based solely on word of mouth.  And being listed as one of Texas Monthly's top 10 burgers in 2009 certainly didn't hurt either. 

Wingfield's is just south of the Dallas Zoo, at Beckley & Illinois.  And you definitely need to be watching for it as it's a very small, very unassuming building.  There's no place to eat inside.  You walk in and and you are immediately at the counter where you place your order.  Be prepared. This is a cash only establishment.  After placing our order, we went back to the car to prep our dining area.  Luckily, Amanda drove and she has a tailagte.  Not only does she have the perfect car for this sort of adventure, she recently packed up her classroom and still had her stools in her car.  We couldn't have planned it any better than this!

When your burger is ready, there will be a rap on the window for you to some back in and get it.  You're handed a white paper sack and if you're like me, you might think, hmmm...this is kind of heavy.  Well, no wonder.  Just look at this bad boy.  And honestly, the picture doesn't do it justice.

The burger is absolutely great! And totally deserving of anything fabulous ever said about it. Wingfield's doesn't do all of the bells and whistles; we're talking a good, old school burger.  Most of us got the bacon and cheeseburger.  I think I counted six perfectly cooked, thick strips of bacon on my burger.  That gave the burger a lot of flavor.  The cheese, a slice of American, was a bit tougher to notice.  I would imagine because there was just one slice and in proportion to everything else, that's just not enough.  I omitted the tomato, but after seeing how red and juicy they were, I regretted doing so.  When you order your burger, you'll be asked if you want mustard and mayo.  I wasn't feeling the mayo love today, so I left that off.  Apparently what that means at Wingfield's is double mustard, coating both buns in it.  While I like mustard, I'm not that passionate about it. That is one thing I would do over; either get both condiments, or be sure to say you only want mustard on one bun.  Adding ketchup helped, but with only two packets, I couldn't do too much.  I really can't even tell you how much that meat patty weighed.  Fairly certain it's the largest I've ever had.  And one thing that really impressed my was the bun.  Typically, with that kind of set up, you know that burger is going to be falling apart.  Amazingly enough, it held together really well, even when I sent it down to eat an onion ring.  

The onion rings were good. The onions (white) had a great, fresh flavor and the rings were crispy.  The fries were average at best.  Honestly, you go to Wingfield's for the burger, no sides needed.  Not a one of us even came close to finishing our burger.  Please promise me, if you are a burger lover and you haven't been to Wingfield's, you will add it to your list.  Friendly service, a different type of experience for most of us, and a truly amazing burger.

Helpful hints for your first visit to Wingfield's:
1.  Carpool - parking is very limited.
2.  Go in a car that is conducive to outside dining (tailgate preferred).
3.  Throw a couple of stools or chairs in the car, just in case.
4.  Take cash.
5.  Skip the sides.
6. Be prepared for a lot of mustard if you hold the mayo.
7.  Napkins won't work.  Take your own paper towels or ask the lady behind the counter to borrow her roll.
8.  Unless you are a freak of nature, it's not really necessary to get the double patty.
9.  Go with friends or family who you love to hang out with and you can be who you are.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Burger Babes Strike Again . . .

This time, in Preston Center at Hopdoddy Burger Bar.  Originally from Austin, Hopdoddy Burger Bar only recently came to Dallas, and judging by the continuous line out of the door, North Texans are happy about this.  Hopdoddy is a bit like Liberty Burger.  You wait in line to place your order while an employee finds and reserves your table.  And most brilliantly, the line passes right by the bar, so you can have a head start on your drink or sample one of the many Texas brews.

Our burgers arrived after about 15 to 20 minutes and what a site to behold.

 Becky's Classic
Angus Beef, Red Leaf, Lettuce, White Onion, Ripe Beef Steak Tomato, Sassy Sauce, Swiss Cheese, Bacon

 Amanda's Continental Club
Turkey, Provolone, Apple-Smoked Bacon, Arugula, Mayo & Basil Pesto on Whole Wheat

Esther's Llano Poblano Burger earned rave reviews:
Angus Beef, Pepper Jack, Roasted Poblano, Apple-Smoked Bacon, Chipotle Mayo

Audra's Magic 'Shroom - Angus Beef, Texas Goat Cheese, Field Mushrooms, Mayo & Basil Pesto

This was probably one of the best burgers with mushrooms I've ever had.  Traditionally, you think a mushroom burger comes with Swiss cheese, but the goat cheese was the most absolute perfect compliment to the mushrooms and the mayo & basil pesto!

Another thing that makes a Hopdoddy Burger so good?  The freshly baked in-house buns. In fact, Hopdoddy bakes their buns twice daily.  Of course, a place that grinds meat daily and bakes their own buns is only naturally going to have the freshest and healthiest of ingredients.

Both the Kennebec Fries and the Truffle Fries were phenomenal! 

Even if the drive to Preston Center is not quick and easy for you, you should definitely add a visit to this burger bar to your to-do-list. Combining an awesome burger and fries with a laid back place to hang out and try Texas brews definitely creates a winning situation!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mixed Up Burgers

Mixed Up Burgers, formerly known as The Patty Shack, is in Grand Prairie, right off of Highway 360.  It's in a strip mall, and if you blink, you may miss it.  It's a seat yourself kind of place, so we grabbed a table as soon as we walked in.  Our waitress was very attentive, checked on us often, and was very patient as we made out decisions.  Mixed Up Burgers has a different take on their burgers.  Instead of piling the burger high with the condiment, they are mixed into the patty and cooked that way.  

We placed out order and settled in for what would turn out to be a long wait.  Friday night is a popular night for Mixed Up, and either someone didn't show up for work or they weren't expecting quite so many people, but the wait for our burger was probably about 10 to 15 minutes longer than it should have been.  Next time we'll know to order those fried pickles.  After about a 30 minute wait, this is what arrived:

Jaleen & Joe Schmoe
Kelly & Shackadelic -
with a fried egg!

Tina & Jethro

Jethro was actually the first burger on the table and the smell of the sauteed onions was simply heavenly, so we were all super excited about the burgers headed our way.  I do appreciate a burger that is delivered open face so you can fully assess what you'll be eating.  Plus, it makes for a great picture.  Our immediate concern was the shredded lettuce and the one, very small, pale tomato slice on each burger.  But, we powered through it, as is the Burger Babe way.  

I ordered the Shackadelic - bacon, 'shrooms, and Swiss cheese, all topped with a fried egg.  And the yolk was just the right amount of runny.  Yea!  The egg turned out to be a great decision this time around since the patty was well done and on the dry side.  It was definitely packed full of whatever mixings you had ordered, but the dryness of the Jethro really detracted from the great flavors of a Cajun spice, blue cheese and bacon.  Sorry about that, Tina.  The bun Mixed Up uses is a great choice.  Fresh and flavorful, it definitely holds whatever toppings are on your burger.  Putting a fried egg on a burger is always dicey if the bun isn't sturdy enough, but this bun held up quite nicely.

As usual, we ordered a variety of sides and they are all superb!  All three sides  were savory and incredibly full of flavor.  For both fries, they were just the perfect size and firmness...a bit of crunch every few bites, but overall soft.  The onion rings are cut thin and made with white onions, but don't let that sway you.  They are absolutely great!
Sweet potato fries, onion rings, and french fries

Mixed Up Burgers is a solid, neighborhood hangout with a different take on burgers that is fun to try and pretty tasty.  They are pretty frequent on Groupon; I guess they're really trying to build up the business.  The prices are good, even without the Groupon and the staff is extremely friendly.  It's definitely worth checking out, especially if you can snag one of those Groupons.  Just be sure to specify how you want your patty cooked if well done is not your style.