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A Serious Burger Discussion

We challenge Eater's assertion that Off-Site Kitchen has one of the hottest hamburgers in America

Locals Only burger at Off Site Kitchen
The Locals Only burger at Off-Site Kitchen earned high praise from Eater.  Photo by Jonathan Rienstra
Off-Site Kitchen, Locals Only
It was good, but No. 9 on a list of 25? It's certainly not as hot as Hansel is right now. Photo by Jonathan Rienstra
Locals Only burger at Off Site Kitchen
Off-Site Kitchen, Locals Only
Jonathan Rienstra

I love some good burger porn, so Eater’s latest edition of the 25 Hottest Hamburgers in America Right Now had me drooling inappropriately at my desk right before lunchtime.

The list had it all: garlic aioli, caramelized onions, brioche buns and more luxurious ingredients worthy of the hottest burgers in the U.S. It made my turkey/roast beef/Colby/pepper Jack sandwich sitting in the office fridge seem lame.

Fortunately, sitting at No. 9 was Dallas’ very own Off-Site Kitchen. So I ditched my sandwich and headed to OSK to try the Locals Only, which Eater recommended.

  If this is supposed to be a top 10 most-buzzed-about burger in America, I’m underwhelmed.

I get that Eater’s list focuses on new restaurants that make excellent burgers, as opposed to the best burgers in the country overall. But if this is supposed to be a top 10 most-buzzed-about burger in America, I’m underwhelmed.

There’s nothing wrong with the Locals Only, which has mustard, bacon, American cheese and jalapeño. In fact, for the most part, I really enjoyed the burger. It was way better than my sandwich would have been, I’m sure of it.

It was of good size, with thick bacon, a medium-rare patty and a near-appropriate balance of ingredients. The only time the burger didn’t work in harmony was near the center, when a cluster of five or six jalapeño slices overtook the rest of the flavors.

I understand the price point at OSK is a draw; the Locals Only is $4.75. But tack on an order of $2 fries plus tax, and you’re already floating above $7 before we start talking about adding a Mexican Coke or can of Pearl.

I’m pretty sure I’ve had burgers this good at other joints around town, such as Chip’s, Maple & Motor, Goodfriend, Jack’s, Jakes, Snuffer's and Stoneleigh P. While eating the Locals Only, I had no revelation like, “Holy hell, this might be the best burger I’ve ever had.” That’s kind of the loose, non-OED definition of “hot,” right?

Looking at Eater’s list, I see joints trying to expand the burger game. Places like LA’s Grill ’Em All, which has a burger called the Powerslave layered with Brie, bourbon-apple compote, balsamic aioli and greens. Or St. Louis’ Five Star Burgers creation, with crispy Hatch chilies, pepper Jack cheese and green chile mayo. Those are some damn sexy burgers that I want to get my hands on.

It makes me wonder why Eater chose Locals Only over Off-Site Kitchen’s Do It Murph-Style, with roasted jalapeño, smoked bacon relish, a slice of American and some secret sauce.

Still, I think I might have had the same reaction. It’s like going on a date where, at the end of the night, even though your date was nice and funny and a good conversationalist, there isn’t enough spark to merit a second date.

Which is to say I think Off-Site Kitchen has some really cute burgers that are totally cool to hang out with, but I’m just not ready to settle down, you know?

For now, Maple & Motor comes up first in my phone, so it’s getting the late-night texts when I get a craving.

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