Twisted Root Burger Company was started by Jason Boso after he did what most service industry folk fantasize about doing to a hard-to-please customer. Boso spouted off, apparently in a big way, and got fired. But that led Boso, along with fellow chefs and eventual Twisted Root co-founders Quincy Hart and Steve Thompson, to build a burger joint that’s irreverent, unconventional, and successful.
The location in Arlington makes number seven for the local chain, with five restaurants scattered across Dallas and one in Roanoke. The Arlington décor concept is garage-meets-tailgate: The back wall is lined with tall tables outfitted with cooler tops as bench seats, and the bar is backed by a Winnebago. Order at the counter under the sign that tells you to hurry up and get off your damn cell phone because people behind you are hungry. When you order, you’re given the name of a literary figure (like J.D. Salinger) or pop icon (Dora the Explorer or Pamela Anderson). That’s what the staffers holler when your food is ready. And, yes, they relish the opportunity to yell out over the PA, “Shake’s ready for Ron Jeremy, creamy shake, come get it!” If you dislike noise, or you’ve got a major case of ADD, you might not enjoy the amount of overhead communication.
The Fried Ride appetizer is a little bit of every veggie on the menu: hand-cut French fries sprinkled with the restaurant’s really good savory grill seasoning, cinnamon-sugary sweet potato fries, onion strings (just a tad greasy but not grossly so), and the two best worst-for-you items: fried pickles and fried green beans. Both delights were crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside. From the handful of the restaurant’s custom-made condiments, the sweetly smoky ancho chile ketchup had a nice kick at the end, and the horseradish Dijon mustard was surprisingly delicious.
Twisted Root’s burger options include buffalo burgers from a Texas-based ranch. All of the beef burgers start out as half-pounders, while the buffalo and turkey patties weigh in at a third of a pound. Burgers come on your choice of a Texas-toasted bun, pretzel bun, or gluten-free bun or atop a salad. Twisted Root also has exotic game on the menu. However, Jon Bonnell and Brian Olenjack needn’t worry: At the time of my visit, the restaurant was fresh out of venison, ostrich, kangaroo, and boar.
The Lost Mexican burger, one of 13 “favorite” burgers on the menu, featured blue cheese and jalapeños. We opted to upgrade to a buffalo patty, and there wasn’t a lot of difference in taste or texture between that and the regular cheeseburger ordered as a comparison. Though the menu claims that the meat is cooked to medium well, our burgers actually came out well-done. The tang of the blue cheese (high-quality stuff, not just dressing) and the heat of the peppers did wonders for the buffalo burger. The cheeseburger was also tasty, but I’d recommend speaking up when you order, unless you like your patty cooked clean through. Even though it was well-done, the burger was still plenty juicy, and the sharp cheddar cheese made a nice change from traditional American cheese.
The turkey burger, ordered atop a salad, was slathered with the same grill spice that goes on the regular burgers and the fries, and it was perhaps the best white-meat burger ever. The salad (mostly Romaine lettuce) came topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, pickled onion, and a choice of dressing. I tried the chipotle ranch, and there was a heat to it that kicked in about five minutes after I’d begun eating.
And because life is short, order your dessert milkshake first. The menu describes the shakes as frozen custard, ice cream’s richer cousin. The Oreo-cookie vanilla shake was too thick to drink with the straw. Fortunately a spoon is provided. At almost $5, the shake seems pricey, but, dang, it was good, and there was plenty to share.
Twisted Root’s unconventionality extends to the disposable items as well. The majority of what you use or take away is “green.” The cups and lids are made from corn, not plastic. The flatware is biodegradable, and there are no bottles for the draft beer. As the sign says, “You’ll live.”
Twisted Root Burger Company
310 E Abram St, Ste 100, Arlington. 817-201-9669.
11am-10pm Sun-Thu, 11am-midnight Fri-Sat.
All major credit cards accepted.
The Fried Ride ……………………………….. $8.99
The Lost Mexican w/buffalo burger …. $9.99
Milkshake ………………………………………. $4.99
Salad w/turkey patty ………………………. $7.99
Cheeseburger w/fries ……………………. $8.74