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Monday, January 25, 2016

Alamo Springs Cafe - January 23, 2016

Last Saturday was a beautiful winter day so I decided to take a road trip to eat some barbeque and try the #3 burger on the Texas Monthly Top 50 Burger list - Alamo Springs Café outside Fredericksburg Texas. The café is about 11 miles from Downtown Fredericksburg off Old San Antonio Road near Old Tunnel State Park. The restaurant is fairly small with both indoor and outdoor seating. Upon entering I was immediately met with the wonderful smell of meat cooking on the flattop, fries and onion fries cooking in hot oil and the sounds of a guy on a guitar singing Pancho and Lefty. I was pointed to a table by a server who told me that my server would be by the table momentarily and that I should help myself to the honor system drink station which consisted of a selection of sodas, iced tea beer and wine. The menu was placed in a container of salt, pepper, Sriracha and ketchup. While I was there for the burger, I would love to return and try some of the other offerings including chicken fried steak, po-boy sandwiches, pork tenderloin sandwich and milkshakes. After getting a glass of water, I ordered a fried avocado and a bacon cheddar burger on a jalapeno cheese bun. I thought about ordering the green chile burger but I needed to stick with the same order I have done at previous burger places. Total price for the burger, fried avocado and water was $21.30. After enjoying most of the fried avocado, the following burger arrived approximately twenty minutes after ordering it:

The smell of the griddled meat and black pepper was intoxicating and the toppings were fresh. I was a little disappointed to see shredded cheese but it melted very quickly on the half-pound patty. I took off the lettuce and tomato and took my first bite of the burger. The slighty sweet slightly spicy soft bun contrasted well with the smoky crisp bacon, the peppery patty, the tang of the mayonnaise and the sharp cheddar cheese. The hand-formed patty was not too densely packed and each bite was full of juice and flavor. The bottom bun soaked up the juices from the patty and it stayed together throughout eating the whole burger. I really enjoyed this burger from start to finish - each bite let the ingredients shine but they all came together to form a wonderful burger experience.

Overall, I had a wonderful of eating bbq and burgers on a beautiful drive from Dallas to Fredericksburg. I really enjoyed the food at Alamo Springs Café and look forward to returning to the area in the near future especially when the weather is a little warmer and I can sit on the patio.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 21, soft, flavorful bun, not overwhelming amount of heat form the jalapeno, held up very well

Meat - 21, perfectly cooked patty, good amount of black pepper, bacon complemented the bun and meat

Appearance - 21, great char on the patty and toast on the bun, ingredients were fresh, slight amount of juice on the plate from the patty

Taste - 21, really enjoyed each bite of the burger, the beef and bacon flavored and the bun complimented the burger perfectly

Overall - 84

Bonus Pics of the Fried Avocado:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Beck's Prime - July 24, 2012

It has been a crazy few months and the Quest for the Ultimate Burger was unfortunately put on the back burner for a while. Also after trying eighty burgers in the D/FW area, we needed a small break to allow some new places to open and get recharged to get back on the quest. This week's burger quest took our group to the recently opened Beck's Prime. The location at the northwest corner of Preston and Forest is the 13th location of Beck's Prime to open and the first in the Dallas area. The restaurant is a fast casual restaurant with a menu featuring mesquite grilled burgers, sandwiches, grilled meat plates, salads and steaks. The Dallas location has taken over a former Jack in the Box and they did a good job of adding a patio as well making the inside warm and inviting with the open dining room and hardwood flooring. When we entered the restaurant, we were greeted the General Manager who told us about the freshness of the meat and the philosophy of the restaurant. He then pointed to the menu above the cashiers and encouraged us to try the burger. I had a variety of burgers to choose from but decided on a bacon cheddar burger with grilled onions, a regular sized fry and a large iced tea which cost $17.16. One of the expeditors gave me my drink along with a buzzer to let me know when my burger would be ready. After a short wait, the buzzer went off and the following burger and fries was delivered to my table:

The first thing that I noticed was the abundance of juices that was dripping off the burger and the smell of the hickory wood smoke from the patty. The sesame seed bun was lightly toasted and both sides of the bun were slathered with mayonnaise. The bottom bun was topped with cheddar cheese, the patty and then another thick slice of cheddar cheese. Lightly grilled onion rings were placed on the top slice of cheese and then two small crispy slices of bacon topped the grilled onions. Taking my first bite, I enjoyed the combination of fresh beef and cheddar cheese. The cheddar wasn't overpowering but it was nicely melted and added a nice texture and flavor to the medium cooked patty. The patty was lightly seasoned so that the flavor of the beef was the primary focus in each bite. I was a little disappointed that the flavor of the bacon and grilled onions didn't really stand out in this burger. Both were good on their own; however, I would have liked another slice of bacon and for the onions to have been caramelized slightly more. Finally I thought that the thick hand cut fries were cooked very well. They were served crispy and unseasoned but with the salt and pepper grinders on the table, it was easy to add a little salt and pepper to them.

Overall, I thought that Beck's Prime served a really good but expensive burger. It will be sticker shock to some when they go through the drive-thru but the product is definitely a step above most drive-thru burger places. The meat is fresh ground every morning and cooking over mesquite gives the burger a great flavor profile. I will be visiting to try the sandwich offerings and possibly even the sixteen ounce grilled ribeye steak.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 20, lightly toasted, good flavor, held up to very juicy burger

Meat - 20, fresh beef patty, cooked well, lightly seasoned, bacon was average

Appearance - 21, very good looking combination of beef cheese and bun, fresh ingredients

Taste - 20, very good showing from a new restaurant, good flavors, enjoyable burger

Overall - 81

Becks Prime on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Liberty Burger - November 7, 2011

This week's burger quest took our group to the Northeast corner of Forest and Inwood to try the burger offering at Liberty Burgers. Liberty Burgers is the creation of Mariel Street and its menu features a dozen burgers, salads, grilled cheese sandwich and a grilled chicken breast sandwich. Their beef patty is a blend of chuck, brisket and tenderloin but they also have a turkey, bison or vegetarian option for the patty. Entering the restaurant, I was impressed with the change from Roma's Italian to Liberty Burger. The space is very open with menus on the wall by the entrance, a bar featuring beer, wine and alcohol and an open kitchen behind the registers where you can see your burgers being cooked on the flattop. While the specialty burgers intrigued me, I ordered The Liberty Burger with bacon, grilled onions and cheddar cheese with a side of skinny fries and an iced tea which cost $11.91. I was handed a number for my order and a cup for my drink and after getting my iced tea, I waited about ten minutes and the following burger was brought to my table:

All of the burgers are served with a knife stuck in the middle so that you can slice it in half yourself. I was glad to see that they gave the diners the option instead of slicing in half and having all of the juices run out on the plate. While I didn't order any vegetables on my burger, the lettuce, tomato and pickles were very fresh and made for a nice side salad especially paired with Liberty's homemade mustard which tasted like a blend of mustard, mayonnaise and dill. The homemade bun was toasted crispy and then topped with a hand formed patty. A thick slice of cheddar cheese covered the patty and was topped with several rings of grilled purple onion, three slices of crispy bacon and the top bun which had a light amount of mayonnaise. Taking a bite of the burger, the flavor of the lightly seasoned patty was very evident. The meat was fresh and juicy and the texture of the beef worked well with the crispiness of the bacon and light flavor of the bun. The cheddar cheese had a light flavor and was slightly overpowered by the beef and bacon. The grilled onions were cooked to a point where they were slightly crispy but there weren't enough of them to really add flavor to every bite. Next the bun was the perfect bun for this burger. It was light and fluffy but didn't fall apart while eating the burger. The bun soaked up the juices from the patty but kept its shape and texture. Finally the fries were very thin extra crispy matchstick style fries. They were very good in the first few bites while hot from cooking but quickly grew lukewarm on the plate.

Overall, I enjoyed my burger at Liberty Burger. The dedication to featuring a high quality blend of beef for the burgers and trying to be as Eco-friendly as possible is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. I thought the burger was very tasty and really enjoyed the homemade bun. I enjoyed the sides but wish they could have stayed hotter longer. I look forward to visiting Liberty Burger again in the future and trying the other burger options such as the Napa Burger with Gorgonzola, wild arugula and olives or the Amore which features Parmesan cheese crisp, ham, cantaloupe and spinach.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 21, fresh homemade bun, toasted well and could handle the very juicy burger

Meat - 21, fresh meat, lightly seasoned, good blend of brisket, chuck and tenderloin

Appearance - 20, very pretty burger, fresh ingredients which were layered nicely

Taste - 20, good tasting burger, dedication to quality ingredients

Overall - 82

Bonus Pictures of Napa Burger, Nooner Burger and Onion Rings:

Liberty Burger on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stackhouse - November 1, 2011

This week's burger quest took our group to Gaston Avenue to visit Stackhouse. The menu at Stackhouse features 6 ounce single burgers or 12 ounce double burgers, sandwiches including a Pulled Pork Cuban, Chicken Club or a Grilled Tilapia, a quarter pound hot dog and a variety of salads. Sides that are available include chips and salsa or dips, french fries, onion rings, mac and cheese and sweet potato fries. For what it is worth, I did hear one of the employees tell a guest that the sweet potato fries were a frozen product while the regular fries were cut fresh and were better option. Stackhouse is housed in a renovated home that has a very open floor plan on the bottom floor, plenty of seating outside both on the ground floor and on a very spacious second floor patio. TV's featuring sports are scattered throughout the space so that you can watch your favorite game while you enjoying a burger and one of Stackhouse's beers on draft. When you enter the restaurant, you are pointed to the cash register and are shown the menu which is posted on the wall. Burger choices are very simple - do you want one or two patties and do you want extra toppings including cheese, bacon, chili, avocado, grilled onions or fried egg. I ordered a single bacon cheddar burger with grilled onions which cost $8.95. Just like at Maple and Motor, you are given a choice of pink or not pink. I went with pink. Once you are finished ordering, you can hear and smell the fresh patties cooking on the griddle. About ten minutes later, the following burger was brought to my table:

The bottom bun was buttered and lightly toasted and topped with lettuce, tomato and long thin slices of pickles. The salad was then topped with the patty that was completely covered with melted cheddar cheese, a generous serving of grilled onions and three slices of crispy bacon. I removed the salad from the burger and enjoyed the healthy fresh vegetables as a nice contrast to the burger. Taking a bite of the burger, I was pleasantly surprised at the juiciness of the patty. Unlike Maple and Motor which is closer to medium, pink at Stackhouse was just a step below medium rare and it allowed the flavor of the beef to shine through. The patty was lightly seasoned and was made from a proprietary blend of brisket and chuck that is freshly ground every morning by Patterson Meats. The cheddar cheese had a mild flavor and added creaminess more than anything to the burger. The bacon was crispy and flavorful and complemented the flavor of the patty. The bun was light and fluffy and soaked up all the juices from the patty and bacon. I kept expecting it to fall apart but it stayed together until I finished my burger. My least favorite part of the burger was the grilled onions. They had a good flavor with a nice sweetness to them but they had been cooked just past the point where they still had a little crispiness in each bite. Finally the fries were fresh cut and were cooked crispy and served without any salt on them. I could taste the fresh potato flavor and after adding a little salt, they made a good side to the burger. On my next visit, I would like to try the onion rings to see how they stack up.

I didn't realize that I was trying Stackhouse on its opening night. I thought that they had been open for a little over a week but I was impressed with the efficiency of the staff and the quality of the burger. I have a feeling that this burger will be ranked highly in listings of top burgers in Dallas.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 20, light and fluffy, good flavor

Meat - 21, very juicy patty, good beef flavor

Appearance - 21, glistening bun, melted cheddar completely covering patty, nice contrast between bacon, patty and grilled onions

Taste - 21, very good flavors, beef bacon cheddar melded nicely in each bite

Overall - 83

Stackhouse on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House - October 24, 2011

This week's burger quest took us to east Dallas to visit Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House which is next door to Good 2 Go Taco on Peavy Road. Goodfriend is a neighborhood bar that features a great line up of burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and appetizers to pair with drinks from their full service bar. After we parked, we noticed a large crowd seated on the large outdoor patio enjoying drinks and watching the beginning of Game 5 of the World Series. Since all the seating was taken, we stepped through the large doors into a very open room with couches and tv on one side, a large bar in the middle and table seating on the other side. Seating was first come first serve so after a short wait, we were able to snag a table. A few moments later, our server came by with water and took our drink orders. The menu featured 10 different burgers ranging from vegetarian options to lamb burgers and five different beef burgers but I decided to go with The Coop burger which came with lettuce, tomato over-easy egg, grilled bacon and brie. All sides are served a la carte so we decided to go with the Pig Pile which is Goodfriend's version of cheese fries. About fifteen minutes later, the following burger was served to me:

The burger was served on a very fluffy lightly toasted bun and I enjoyed the grill smells when it was placed before me. Three crisp slices of bacon were placed on the bottom bun which were then topped by the juicy hand formed patty on which you could see the black pepper that it had been seasoned with while cooking. A thick slice of brie was melted on the patty and the burger was then topped with an over-easy egg. Taking my bite of the burger, I tasted the earthiness of the brie and the grass-fed beef that contrasted nicely with the smokiness and crunch of the bacon. The egg also combined with the brie to give the burger a unique richness and flavor. I am not a big fan of over-easy eggs but it did add a nice touch to the overall burger. The patty was seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked to a perfect medium. The hamburger bun was one of my favorites so far in the burger quest. It was light and fluffy with just enough sponge to hold up well to every bite of the very messy juicy burger. Finally the Pig Pile was good but could have been cooked slightly less. The cheese was cooked just to the point of being crispy but the overall order of cheese fries was still very tasty. My favorite part were the jalapeno peppers. They had been cured in a sweet tangy vinegar that mixed with their heat perfectly. I will have to order some of them on my next burger.

Overall I thought that Goodfriend served a very tasty burger and the atmosphere inside is very welcoming. They are trying to use high quality ingredients to make burgers that reflect a variety of flavor profiles and cultures. I look forward to returning and trying one of the other offerings such as the Fungus Among Us, Pepper Bomb or Loretta burger.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 21, great bun, lightly toasted, sponginess soaked up juices but didn't fall apart

Meat - 20, great bacon, flavorful patty, cooked and seasoned well

Appearance - 20, great looking burger on the plate, fresh ingredients

Taste - 20, very flavorful burger, great contrast of flavors between the components

Overall - 81

Bonus Pictures of Menu and Pig Pile:

Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jack's Chowhound (Food Truck) - September 27, 2011

This week's burger quest took our group to Jack's Chowhound - one of the food trucks that have started making their way around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. When we arrived the truck was parked in front of the Preston Commons office building. The deli inside the building is undergoing renovations so the building management has invited a different food truck to show up each day. Jack's menu features a variety of sandwiches, a hot dog and hand-cut fries. I placed my order at the window for a cheeseburger with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and grilled onion with a side of Cajun fries for $9. There was a large crowd waiting for food so about fifteen minutes later, my number was called and I was given the following burger and fries:

Opening the Styrofoam container, I was met with wonderful smell of beef and fries fresh from the fryer along with a slight scent of pepper from the Cajun seasoning. The hamburger appeared to be a basic quarter-pound preformed patty. The patty appeared very juicy and a nice crust had formed on both sides of the meat. The patty was placed on top of a very lightly toasted hamburger bun which had a thick slather of mayonnaise. A small slice of cheese was melted on top of the patty which was then topped with thick rings of caramelized white onion, fresh tomato and a few leaves of lettuce. The burger was then topped with the top bun. I would have liked to have seen a better quality of bun but the standard picnic style bun did bring me back to days of burgers at the lake after a long day of swimming. Taking a bite, I tasted a patty that was very juicy and cooked to a perfect medium. It had nice beef flavor that was complimented with a little bit of salt and pepper. The cheese slice was a little too small to be prominent in every bite but in the bites that did have cheese, it had a good flavor. I ended up taking off the lettuce and tomato but they were fresh made a good salad. I did enjoy the generous portion of grilled onions. They had a hint of sweetness from the browning but still had the bite of white onion in each bite. Finally, the fries were served very hot and had a great flavor. They were cooked slightly crispy and the Cajun seasoning added a nice bite of heat in each bite.

Overall, I enjoyed the burger offering at Jack's Chowhound. The food truck used good ingredients but I thought it was priced a little high for the style of burger. That being said, I would return to Jack's and order their burger again as well as try their other offerings. I like the idea of food trucks roaming our city and bring home cooked favorites to the public. The pulled pork grilled cheese sounded really good and people in line were raving about the Steak Frites - rare tenderloin sliced thin and served on a bed of garlic Parmesan fries.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 18, standard hamburger bun, lightly toasted but held up well to the juicy burger

Meat - 19, good quality meat, lightly seasoned and cooked to a perfect medium

Appearance - 21, nice presentation of ingredients, good char to burger

Taste - 19, good flavors, great burger to eat outside on a beautiful fall day

Overall - 77

Bonus Pictures of Truck, Menu and Texas Dog:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

JC's Burger House Addison - September 22, 2011

This week's burger quest took our group to JC's Burger House in Addison Texas. JC's has locations in Addison, Plano, McKinney, Allen, Frisco and Richardson. The menu features burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and chicken strips along with tator tots, fries and sweet potato fries. Walking into the restaurant, we passed the dining area featuring two tops and four tops and made our way to the register to place our order. The friendly cashier too my order for a bacon cheddar burger with mayonaise and grilled onions, fries and an iced tea for $10.11. I looked behind the cashier to the open kitchen and noticed a large flat top where burgers where cooking for all the patrons. Ten minutes later my name was called and the following burger was brought to my table:

The burger was simply presented next to a side of fries in a plastic red basket. The half pound patty was placed on top of a buttered bottom bun and then topped with a layer of cheddar cheese then grilled onions, bacon and top buttered bun. Unfortunately the kitchen forgot the mayonaise but taking my first bite, I didn't miss it all. I tasted a very juicy patty that was lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and had a small crust from the being griddled. The grilled onions were very sweet and contrasted nicely with the abundant amount of crispy bacon on top of the cheese and onions. The patty fit nicely on the bottom bun and you could taste the fresh flavor of the fresh ground beef. I was impressed with the nice contrast of beef, bacon, cheese, onions and bun. The only disappointing part of the basket was that the fries really weren't anything special. The thick cut fries were served hot and crispy but they really weren't any different than the standard frozen fries served by many places. I was told the tator tots were very good and next time I will definitely order them.

Overall I thought JC's served a good burger. I am not sure if it is deserving of the best burger awards that it has won but I wouldn't turn down an opportunity of visiting the restaurant again. The burger was fresh tasting with a nice presentation of beef, bacon, cheese, onions and bun. I would have liked to seen a better order of fries but the burger was well prepared and tasty.

Ratings (1-25:)

Bun - 19, nicely toasted buttered bun, held up throughout entire burger eating

Meat - 20, well cooked patty with good seasoning, bacon was abundant and crispy

Appearance - 20, good looking burger, nice contrast of textures and colors

Taste - 20, nicely seasoned burger, good flavors of beef, onion, cheese and bacon

Overall - 79

Bonus pics of Chili and Burger with Tator Tots:

JC's Burger House Addison on Urbanspoon