Last December, I chowed down on eight of the city’s favorite burgers. Here’s the skinny.
If you know me, you know I’m all about clean eating. But last December, a culmination of personal issues hit me like a ton of bricks, and I decided to take a break from my dietary restrictions and give in to my inner Texan. I decided I needed to eat a burger. Actually, many, many burgers.
I hadn’t had factory-farmed meat since 2010, and I’d been off gluten, dairy, corn, and sooo much more for 3.5 years. But in December, I let it ALL go, and y’all, I loved every minute of it. Cheeseburger after cheeseburger, I held nothing back and left no crumbs. And, because everything I do, I do for you, I am here with the full report.
HERE IS MY CHEESEBURGER DIARY, IN ORDER OF CONSUMPTION
At each restaurant, I ordered the house cheeseburger with a side of onion rings with ranch dressing, ‘cause that’s been my favorite side since I was a little girl.
FRED’S TEXAS CAFÉ
7101 Camp Bowie West Blvd.
Cheeseburger $12/onion rings $7
I started my epic burger-a-thon at the restaurant owned by my longtime friend from middle school, Quincy. My first surprise was that the veggies were below the patty, not on top. This was new to me, but apparently it’s common sense – it adds a buffer between the meat and the bread so the burger juice doesn’t saturate the bottom bun. ‘Cause no one wants a soggy bottom, amiright? Favorite part about this burger: The bun with its crispy, buttery edges. Fred’s recently moved to a new location, and I am sure it will be just as successful here as it was for so long in West 7th.
4901 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Cheeseburger $6.90/onion rings $3.49
Kincaid’s is practically a Fort Worth institution. There are now five of them around the metroplex, but it all started in my neighborhood, on a small grill set up in the meat department of Charles Kincaid’s Grocery and Market. I grew up eating Kincaid’s burgers, and I always run into someone I know when I am there with my family. Kincaid’s definitely knows how to make onion rings, too – biting into one of these crunchy rings really brought back memories!
2905 West Berry Street
Cheeseburger $12-14/onion rings $5
For anyone who doesn’t know, the Jon in this new restaurant is our own top chef, Jon Bonnell. He joined Jason and me for lunch here, and it was such a thrill. Jon’s Grille is true ranch-to-table dining and offers some of the cleanest, best tasting, and heart-healthy meat possible. Fun fact: Jon receives two of their cross-breed Akaushi-Angus every week from Bonnell’s Ranch – fine cuts like tenderloin and strips go to Bonnells, and the rest becomes burger meat for Jon’s Grille. Jon insisted we get the BBQ Brisket Burnt Ends topped with crispy jalapenos, scallions, and roasted hemp hearts, along with the Elote Fritters filled with a corn and soft cotija cheese middle, and THEY WERE SO GOOD. Of course, I added a side of fried pickles to boot! But my focus was the burger: a juicy, medium-cooked fatty patty layered with hydroponic bibb lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, 1015 Texas onion, and Fort Worth’s very own Best Maid Pickles.
TOMMY’S HAMBURGER GRILL
1736 Mall Circle
Cheeseburger $10.59/onion rings $6.99
Next up on the burger party train was none other than an original Tommy’s hamburger. I reached out to owner Kelly Smith and her precious wife, Holly Edwards, and asked them if they would join me for a meal at their famous establishment. And O.M.G., I now know why people rave about Tommy’s. Kelly, Holly, and I talked about our challenging health journeys, the crazy side of social media, and all things Fort Worth. Tommy’s uses Nolan Ryan Beef, a company that follows strict animal welfare processes, including real-time monitoring procedures to ensure ethical treatment throughout the cow’s lifecycle. It made for a burger as delicious as the conversation. BTW, hands down, these are my favorite onion rings in FW, IMHO.
NEIMAN MARCUS CAFÉ
5200 Monahans Ave.
Cheeseburger $19/truffle fries $10.50 (no onion rings)
Neiman Marcus wasn’t actually on my list of burgers to try, but it just so happened to be where I was having a very long-planned lunch with one of my best friends, Sheridan French. We talked about having popovers with strawberry butter and champagne for 3.5 years, and while I was on my “hall pass,” we made sure it was going to happen. I wouldn’t usually order a burger at Neiman’s, but when in Rome, roam! The NM Burger is a Black Angus patty on a brioche bun from Empire Baking Company accented with sharp cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayonnaise. It usually comes with fries, but I leveled up and subbed in the truffle fries (to the surprise of no one). Paired with a glass of wine, I felt like I was in heaven.
9901 Camp Bowie Blvd., West
Cheeseburger $12.99/onion ring upgrade from fries $1+
If you haven’t heard of JD’s, you have been hiding under a rock. JD’s is the latest burger hotspot around town, and you definitely need to get there for early dinner service with the blue-haired crowd if you don’t want to wait till Easter to eat! (Luckily, there’s a terrific bar to take the edge off the wait.) Jason and I both ordered the Allie Mae & JD burger, his with fries, mine with – what else – onion rings! Now y’all, I tell you, this was the juiciest, drippiest, both-hands-on-deck burger I ever did have. I dubbed it The Napkin Burger ‘cause you will go through a few of them by the time you finish that bad boy! Funny story – we actually ran into my parents while we were there. A friend of theirs raved about the chili dog, saying it was the best he ever had, so they came to check it out. The verdict: They said it was worth the hype.
J’S CASA BURGER
5181 River Oaks Blvd.
Cheeseburger $5.69/onion rings $2.69
So how did J’s Casa Burger get on this list? I can thank my friend (and burger fanatic) David Goodman for that. We grew up eating burgers from the Express Mart, a gas station near the corner of Hulen and Bellaire. Those burgers are long gone, and we’ve been on the hunt for something similar for most of our adult lives. Well, David said he had finally found it at J’s Casa Burger, so I went! This little burger shack is a bit off my beaten path, but it was worth the detour. Was it the burger I remember from back in the day? No. But in all fairness, I am not so sure anything could live up to the nostalgia of my hazy memories. But this was one good burger.
ROY POPE GROCERY
2300 Merrick Street
Cheeseburger $10.25/fries $2.95
This was my official last dinner as a sinner. Alas, I wasn’t able to give it my full attention – and stomach space – as I was still digesting the Mama’s Pizza I had enjoyed for lunch, but I gave it my all. One thing I noticed was that Roy Pope puts its fixins on top of the patty instead of below, which kept the veggies fresh and the yummiest elongated crinkle-cut pickles crisp to the bite. Speaking of, Roy Pope just won “Best Bite” at Bubbles & Bites at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo for the 2nd year in a row.
Eight lucky locals will win LUNCH FOR 2 from one of the eight restaurants where I dined. Click HERE to enter the giveaway.
After all that, did I have a favorite? My boys asked me this, and I think you might be wondering, too. I have to admit, I did. And I’ll tell you – with the caveat that everyone’s taste is different, and I am by no means an expert, even after this meat marathon. For me, personally, it was the NM Burger. Runner up: Tommy’s. That’s all I’ll say about that!
Will I do this again? Um … no? It’s taken me over a month to rebound from all the cravings and to shed the extra burger LBs. But if I ever did, there were some pretty incredible recommendations when I posted this question in the Fort Worth Foodies Facebook group, “If you could have only one more burger in your entire life, where would you go in Fort Worth” and here are the votes in alphabetical order:
|B&B Butchers and Restaurant|
|Big Kat Burgers|
|Blue Mound Cafe|
|Burgers n Beyond|
|Cat City Grill|
|Charley’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers|
|Dayne’s Craft Barbecue|
|Del Frisco’s Grille|
|Fred’s Texas Cafe|
|Hopdoddy Burger Bar|
|J’s Casa Burger|
|Jakes Burgers and Beer|
|Jimmy’s Big Burger|
|Kelly’s Onion Burgers -food truck|
|M&O Station Grill|
|The Bearded Lady|
|The Meat Board|
|The Star Cafe|
|Wishbone & Flynt|
|Yellow Rose Smokehouse|