First let me say that I worship at the counters of cafés like Fred’s and Kincaid’s. Fort Worth has great burger joints, most of which seem to have been here since the Eisenhower administration. Basic burgers are great, and so are the occasionally exotic versions that the classic places offer.
But lately I’ve been hungering for more. Where’s the joie de vivre among local burger chefs? Well, to answer my own question, at the Rodeo Goat and the M&O Station Grill, to name just a couple of places.
I’d heard a lot of good things about Rodeo Goat (2836 Bledsoe St.) in the glitzy Mc7th area and was excited to try it out. The place has a rustic rodeo vibe, including a mock rodeo arena for a dining room. The space is open and echoing, and it was filled with folks on recent weeknight visit.
Menu items have corny names, like Ravi Shankar and Cowboy Murrin, but the flavor combinations are decidedly chef-inspired and unique. Some of the items are little deconstructions of other styles of cuisine.
I opted for the Caca Oaxaca ($9), despite the fact that the name is really a turn-off when you’re eating. The patty is made of beef and chorizo topped with most of the ingredients of a Mexican breakfast plate: The burger is stuffed with avocado, pico de gallo, queso fresco, Tabasco mayo, and a fried egg. It’s not for neat freaks. Every bite oozed oil from the salty chorizo, and other ingredients leaked out the sides like passengers abandoning a sinking ship. It was an oily mess, but a delicious one.
The Salted Sow ($9) was just as crammed full of ingredients. It’s a combination of beef, Italian sausage, prosciutto, tomato, basil pesto, basil leaves, mozzarella, and balsamic mayo. It was like a caprese salad and Italian sub smashed into one burger. The spice of the Italian sausage was balanced by the cool basil and balsamic mayo. It was absolutely delicious and a welcome addition to the local burger scene.
Another blip on my burger screen was M&O Station Grill (200 Carroll St. #110). While there is more to the M&O than burgers — the menu offers some delicious salads and sandwiches — it’s hamburger heaven for the meat-hungry masses.
The atmosphere is retro, with a vintage decor and walk-up counter service. On my recent solo visit, the vent hoods in the exposed kitchen let diners down a little. Some onions being grilled were like tear gas in the dining room.
Through my tears, I ordered the supreme Tijuana burger ($10.97), with roasted poblano peppers, avocado slices, and garlic cream cheese. Though it was a little over-priced, the burger exploded with spicy flavor. The combination of peppery poblanos and garlic blended well with the cream cheese and avocados, which added a decadent creamy texture. The accompanying hand-cut fries were beautifully crisp and delicious.
I’m glad places like Rodeo Goat and the M&O are testing the burger boundaries. I love the oldies, but there’s room in my heart — and stomach — for those who think creatively inside the bun.
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