As most regulars already know, Pop’s Burgers & Grill moved earlier this year from Benbrook Highway to Trail Lake Drive near I-20. Rest assured, though, that owner Russell House is still a big Horned Frogs fan and has made certain the new space reflects his love: There’s so much purple paint on the walls, it looks like Barney the Dinosaur exploded. The new, larger space is also covered with TCU football photos, pennants, and posters. But a recent weekday afternoon visit reassured us that Pop’s still knows how to whip up some delicious sports bar-style fare.
The meal started off with a surprisingly delectable appetizer order of corn nuggets. These weren’t chewy, hushpuppy-like fritters but breaded, deep-fried morsels with a mother lode of hot creamed corn in their centers. “Appetizer” is probably the wrong word, though, since a few of these rich and dense bad boys didn’t stimulate hunger as much as wrestle it and pin it to the ground.
Hamburgers are, of course, Pop’s bread and butter, and the menu at the new location has retained old favorites like the onion-ring burger, the bacon cheeseburger, the mushroom Swiss, and the monstrosity known as Pop’s Belly Buster. We went with the jalapeño cheeseburger and were rewarded with a thick beef patty dripping with juice. Best of all, the cook knew exactly what “medium rare” meant –– the meat was tender, not mushy, and evenly pink throughout. And the fiery sliced peppers tangoed wonderfully with melted American cheese and a thick swipe of cool mayo. Instead of fries, we ordered a side of fried okra: a generous pile of steaming, breaded veggie nuggets that were firm and not soggy.
The chicken-fried steak sandwich also was stellar. Thick and tender like the beef patty, it was breaded with a firm coating that didn’t come off immediately like a cheap dinner jacket. The breading was agreeably salty, spicy, and more flavorful than usual. The sliced tomatoes were red and fresh, the romaine lettuce green and leafy, and the purple onion slices aromatic and savory. The soft store-bought buns were nothing to brag about, but they didn’t get in the sandwich’s way, either. Again, we eschewed the fries for another side. The moist green beans didn’t taste canned, though it was hard to tell.
The fried catfish basket also hit the spot. The narrow, medium-sized fillets were covered in a crumbly, lightly greasy breading that boasted some earthy Cajun-ish spices. In fact, the coating and fish were so tasty by themselves that the side of tartar sauce went untouched. For our side, we chose mashed potatoes: a large dome of chunky spuds layered with delicious and peppery cream gravy. They proved, once again, that sides are not an afterthought here.
Any time a local institution like Pop’s decides to change anything, let alone locations, the regulars are primed to fuss about what’s new. But the open, spacious interior and the enclosed dining patio make the new place feel friendlier. Best of all, the grub still tasted homemade and top-notch.
Pop’s Burgers & Grill, 4413 Trail Lake Dr, FW. 817-927-0722.
11am-9pm Mon-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Corn nuggets …………………………………. $4.99
Chicken-fried steak sandwich basket .. $8.99
Jalapeño cheeseburger basket ………… $7.99
Catfish basket ………………………………… $9.99