BY PATRICIA SHARPE AND JAKE SILVERSTEIN / PHOTOGRAPH BY MATTHEW RAINWATERSA GASTRO-SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY INTO THE FINEST BURGERS IN THE STATE THAT INVENTED THE BURGER, INCLUDING THE TORO (#4), THE STODG (#6), THE MISS HATTIE (#28), AND, IN OUR TOP SLOT, A MIRACLE OF MEAT SERVED ONLY ON SUNDAYS. NO WONDER THEY CALL IT THE LORD’S DAY.
Barbecued brisket, chicken-fried steak, and tacos aside, there is no more iconic Texas food than the hamburger. Not only was the most famous American sandwich invented here, but every day, we Texans consume burgers by the millions. Which is why Texas Monthly concluded some six months ago that it was high time we published the definitive story celebrating this indigenous food and identifying the fifty greatest examples currently being served. That such a story had never before greased, er, graced these pages seemed inexplicable.
Almost immediately, we understood the omission. The task was impossible! Everybody who wrote, called, or stopped us in the hallway had a different favorite burger. (For fun we also asked a bunch of notable Texans for their top picks.) Sure, the names of classic joints kept popping up, but basically people nominated their neighborhood favorites. It was as if we had asked, “Who’s the best kid in Texas?” The answer’s always “Mine, of course.” (Editors’ note: To be clear, “The Fifty Best Kids in Texas” will not be featured in an upcoming issue; please do not send nominations.)
We boiled down these recommendations, plus everything else our research turned up, into a list of candidates ranging from the ultrasimple to the über-swanky. For patriotic and aesthetic reasons (and to maintain our sanity), we eliminated national chains and urban steakhouses. Our 31 valiant tasters covered 12,343 miles, visited 253 restaurants, and gained a cumulative 45 pounds.
The results were startling. Legions of legendary places—Dirty Martin’s, Nau’s, Kincaid’s, Chris Madrid’s, Adair’s, Bellaire Broiler Burger—had failed to score in the top fifty. Though plenty of old-school joints did appear, the thin-patty, no-nonsense burger of bygone days was routinely upstaged by a buxom, tricked-out twenty-first-century iteration.
The conclusion? This is what happens when you go for quality over nostalgia. In seeking burgers that stopped us in our tracks, we left some hallowed names in the dust. Undoubtedly, burger-loving readers will be outraged at a few of our picks and misses, but so be it. Here begins our list of the fifty best hamburgers in Texas.
TWISTED ROOT BURGER CO., DALLAS
Don’t worry if your first visit to this spot on the edge of Deep Ellum ends in despair. The line often spills out the door, so you might consider returning at an off time (e.g., the instant the restaurant opens). Yet crowds confirm quality. The beef patties—or buffalo, elk, and other game in season—are thick, the sweet-potato chips are fresh, and the spicy pickles are homemade, along with the root beer, ice cream, and chipotle ketchup. Lots of burger shops are filled with signs and stickers, but here one certainly stands out: “Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.” 2615 Commerce, 214-741-7668. Two other locations in the Dallas area. BDS