Who makes the best burger in DFW?

I saw this picture and my cholesterol jumped up 25%.

There is no way I can eat like this anymore, but I can write about it and salivate!  From DFW.com comes a great piece on who has the best burgers in the area.

“A hamburger is warm and fragrant and juicy. A hamburger is soft and nonthreatening. It personifies the Great Mother herself who has nourished us from the beginning.”
novelist Tom Robbins, Esquire magazine, 1983

“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
J. Wellington Wimpy

It shouldn’t be all that complicated. Ground beef. Spices. A bun. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, maybe you ask for some Cheddar cheese or bacon on top. They should all pretty much taste the same. A hamburger should just be a hamburger.

And yet, when it comes to this quintessentially American food item — which is said to have been invented by a group of Germans who ground up some beef and called it the “Hamburg sausage” — there are limitless variations on this old-fashioned concoction. And just as many opinions on what makes a hamburger great.

Case study No. 1: The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, where hamburgers are a kind of religion.

Perhaps it’s to be expected from a state that prides itself so aggressively on its beef, but the mixture here of mom-and-pop burger joints, regional chains and fast-food emporiums is pretty much unparalleled in the country.

More to the point: People take their burgers very seriously. Forget the Civil War: Here in Fort Worth, for instance, families have been known to divide over the question of which burger is better, the elegantly old-fashioned one at Kincaid’s, or the joyously sloppy and overstuffed one at Fred’s.

A similar debate rages in Dallas. Is that trip up Northwest Highway to the legendary Keller’s Drive-In really worth it? Or should we really be bowing at the altar of a newbie called Twisted Root Burger Co.?

There seemed to us no other solution, then, but to throw ourselves into the middle of the burger mania — and devote this summer to pursuit of a single dilemma: What is the greatest burger in DFW?

We began by polling friends and foodies, and enjoying more than a few long, food coma-inducing lunches ourselves. We culled together the list of the top 32 contenders, carefully ranked and seeded them based on reputation and recommendations, and then divided them into regional brackets: a la March Madness. There’s Dallas, Fort Worth, the Mid-Cities and beyond, and “The Chain Gang” (for those restaurants who have more than three area locations and/or don’t strictly identify with one part of the Metroplex).

Knowing that our initial picks and cockeyed bracketology are bound to inspire controversy, we’ve also included a few “on the bubble burgers” — and we’re eager to hear if you think they wuz robbed. Or tell us which bodacious burgers we missed entirely.

But now the fun part begins. We start eating, as our intrepid gluttons, er, judges will pit burger joint against burger joint, and only one will survive. Each week, we’ll work through a section of the bracket, on our way to a waistline-expanding coronation of the single greatest burger in DFW.

We’ll also be asking you to vote for your choices.

The debate is endless: Will the readers’ bracket ultimately match up with the DFW.com bracket? Will an eighth-seed like M&O Grilling Station pull a shocking upset over a top-seed like Kincaid’s? Will our judges, so stuffed with meat and cheese, eventually decide to go vegan?

We’re not sure if we’ll ever be able to solve the mystery of why burgers so captivate our imagination here in Texas. But we’re determined to find that one joint that rises above the rest — and proves, once and for all, that a hamburger is never just a hamburger.

The ground rules

1. On the same day, judges will travel to each of the two competing burger joints and order what is regarded as the house specialty. The judges are allowed to eat as little or as much of the burger as they deem necessary to determine the winner. The process will then be repeated as the bracket narrows.

2. While lobbying by individual restaurants is allowed, judges will visit each competitor anonymously and pay for their own meals.

3. Service and side items will not be taken into consideration. A waitress can dump a $25 burger on the floor and slap it back on the plate — but if it tastes good, that’s all that matters.

4. While open to mockery and derision, decisions of the judges will be final.

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