The Foodie Gods wanted me to have burgers. I don’t question the wisdom of the deities, nor do I understand their mysterious ways. But when the gods speak to me directly, which they do about six times a day, I listen and follow devoutly.
I visited the Swiss Pastry Shop (3936 W. Vickery Blvd., 817-732-5661) a while back for a bit of bratwurst. The fare at the Westside eatery has always been vastly underrated. It was on that trip I saw the place’s newish burger menu for the first time. The kitchen uses only Wagyu beef, and it’s luxuriously tasty, whether in a plain old cheeseburger or in one of the menu’s formidable concoctions.
The 41-year-old café is full of surprises. Very quietly, it’s turned into a gourmand beacon while maintaining its ramshackle strip mall diner charm. There’s not an ounce of pretension in the place, except for maybe when I’m there. The burgers are notably different from other good versions around town. The beef is top notch, and the various options are creative without crossing over into culinary parody. I opted for the Hans Be Jammin’ ($11.50). Slathered in a sweet bacon and onion jam, with melted Swiss gruyere, the meat, cooked medium-rare unless requested otherwise, was juicy, with a thrillingly dark crust. The bun’s fluffiness seemed to have been calibrated to the precise cubic micrometer to offset the richness of the meat. The jam was sweet but not cloying and added another nice counterbalance to the intensely flavorful patty.
My next divine intervention came at Max’s Wine Dive (2421 W. 7th St., Ste. 109, 817-870-1100). I went for brunch on a recent Sunday and passed on the normal breakfast fare when our server passed by carrying the place’s signature burger ($16) to another table. When I saw that it was $16, I almost levitated. Sixteen bucks might be a little pricey, but I know a sign when I see one.
The goliath simply looked decadent on my plate. Max’s meat totem wasn’t quite as refined as Swiss Pastry’s, but it was still a delicious, if straightforward and overpriced, treat. The meat is a blend of short rib, brisket, chuck, and beef belly Angus, served on a fluffy, buttery brioche bun, and packed like a clown car with Bibb lettuce, hot house tomatoes, red onion, house-made pickles, and jalapeños on the side. Every bite felt like I was chomping down on a water balloon, it was so juicy.
My burger bender ended at The Capital Grille (800 Main St., downtown, 817-348-9200). Although I’d normally eschew $20 bar food, I loosened my budgetary shackles for the Capital’s Wagyu cheeseburger ($17), with a fried egg and crispy onions. The place’s version wasn’t that much better than its more terrestrially priced brethren around the city, but if you’re looking to indulge in a Caligulan orgy of rich, juicy, fois gras-like beef and runny egg yolk that’ll soak your hands through a fresh-baked bun, then Capital Grille is a good place to do it.
It was fun while it lasted. The Foodie Gods have allowed me to move on from my binge –– or perhaps my iron deficiency was finally sated. Either way, I’ve got some great new burger hotspots. Gods, be praised.
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