It’s a passionate subject in a city nicknamed “Cowtown” – burgers, that is. Everyone has their favorite, from unfussy classics to flashy gourmet versions with their aioli and brioche buns.
We're throwing charcoal on the grill and stoking fires of debate by making Best Burger our "Wildcard" category the 2023 CultureMap Fort Worth Tastemaker Awards. The Wildcard category changes every year depending on what's hot. And there's no hotter cuisine right now than burgers.
This group of nominees covers restaurants serving up wide-ranging styles, including the smashburger, the pitmaster burger, the fancy truffle burger, the eccentric burger made with local beer-infused ingredients, and the traditional chargrilled hamburger served basic with lettuce, tomato, and onion.
Study up on the selections - and all the other nominees - in a special editorial series leading up to the Tastemaker Awards ceremony and signature tasting event, being held April 27 at The 4 Eleven (411 S. Main St.).
The event, emceed by Fort Worth chef Jon Bonnell, will feature bites and beverages from the nominees. Note that early bird ticket sales end April 2. Snag those here.
The Tastemaker Awards, returning for a second year in Fort Worth, shine a spotlight on the people making the local restaurant scene special and honor their innovation, energy, and creativity. Nominees and winners are determined by a panel of industry experts, including past winners — except for Best New Restaurant, which is determined by reader vote.
Here are the 10 nominated restaurants for Best Burger, in alphabetical order:
B&B Butchers & Restaurant
The Shops at Clearfork steakhouse knows how to get fancy with burgers in a big way. Maybe it’s topping them with a thick pad of indulgent truffle butter and slathering them with truffle aioli and three-onion jam, like on the restaurant’s Truffle Burger. Or maybe it’s serving them open-faced with fried oysters, filet, and pork belly as they do with the Carpet Bagger Burger. There’s also the Hill Country Burger featuring smoked sausage, barbecue sauce, and pepperjack cheese; and the Butcher Shop Burger loaded with thick applewood smoked bacon. All are served with thick-cut steak fries and are available only at lunch.
The Bearded Lady
The half-pound burgers are always head-turners at this South Main Street gastropub and patio. One example: The Bill Dill, a mile-high pickle-themed burger topped with fried pickles, bacon, dill ranch, queso made with Martin House Brewing Company’s Best Maid pickle beer, and pickles soaked in Martin House’s Salty Lady beer. There’s also the BOTM (burger of the month), a limited special that goes wild with creativity. March’s feature is The Jambalaya, ladeled with actual sausage and chicken jambalaya along with blackened shrimp and “dirty gravy.” Get ready to get messy.
Dayne's Craft Barbecue
Dayne Weaver’s elusive OG Burger is available from his barbecue trailer as a special only on Thursdays and Fridays, and word is that they can sell out by lunchtime. Comprised of two juicy patties made from a mix of ground beef and brisket trimmings, the smoky smashburger draws legions of fans for its cheesy, heavenly goodness. Because of its limited supply, the burger has achieved legendary status. Look for it to be a daily menu offering once Dayne’s opens its brick-and-mortar location in the up-and-coming Westland area on Camp Bowie West.
This TCU-area burger hub holds a lot of history. It’s named for legendary TCU grad and football coach “Dutch” Meyer and is located in the former home of another iconic TCU burger joint, Jon’s Grille (the original, not the reincarnated version recently opened by Jon Bonnell on West Berry Street). Burgers are mostly traditional here; they come with half-pound patties, shredded lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles if desired. Slightly flashier versions include additions like hickory barbecue sauce, bacon, blue cheese, mushroom and Swiss cheese, and fried onion and jalapeño strings.
Fred's Texas Café
Having moved after more than 40 years in its original Currie Street location to Camp Bowie West in 2022, Fred’s picked right up where it left off. The look and feel – with a patio stage for live music, icy schooners, and rustic Texas décor – is still the same, as are the medium-cooked Black Angus burgers that still come with a big pile of hand-cut fries. While the chipotle pepper and grilled onion-topped Diablo Burger is still popular, don’t sleep on creative newcomers on the menu like the Enchilada Burger; Guajillo Burger with Dr Pepper candied bacon; and the Spicy Todo Jalapeño Burger with fried jalapeños, jalapeño cream cheese, and jalapeño jam served on a cheddar jalapeño bun.
There’s nothing scandalous about this hidden Stockyards burger shack, where orders are taken and picked up from an outdoor window. Hooker is the last name of Ruth, who runs the place with her mom, Kathryn. Here, fried onions are pressed into the thin Hereford beef patties, which almost fall apart between smashed, griddle-top-toasted buns. The ensemble comes wrapped in red-and-white checkered paper and is a delicious, addicting mess. Most popular is the “regular,” which comes with mustard and pickles. Customers can add cheese, jalapeños, bacon, chili, green chili gravy, or a fried egg. Hookers is open late on Friday and Saturday nights to accommodate the honky-tonk crowd after dancing.
After losing its roof from high winds during storms on March 2, JD’s Hamburgers is still working hard to reopen. The Westland district burger café and patio debuted last September, drawing happy crowds from West Fort Worth and beyond for its long list of burgers and Southern-inspired bites like deviled eggs, salmon patties, and fried green tomatoes. Burger varieties include the Sherlie Ann & Donnie with bacon, peach pico de gallo, and Swiss cheese; the Cheryl & Bo with Hatch chile queso; and the more traditional Allie Mae & JD with shredded lettuce, American cheese, caramelized onions, tomato, and pickle ribbons. All come on a toasted sourdough bun and may be served with sweet potato fries or long-cut okra fries.
The longtime Camp Bowie Boulevard burger dive evolved out of a 1940s grocery store and is still family owned and operated, now with five locations across Tarrant County. Praised on countless “best burger” lists over the decades, Kincaid’s keeps things simple with its half-pound chargrilled burgers presented with the classic build of lettuce, sliced tomatoes, white onions, and pickle chips. Additions include cheese, chili, and bacon, and all burgers come with mustard unless the customer requests otherwise. There are “fancier” options, like the “Cowtown Deluxe” with pimento cheese, bacon, and grilled jalapeños and onions, but it’s the humble original that’s kept customers coming back for generations.
Little Red Wasp
This downtown restaurant and bar hangs with the local burger elite for its “knife + fork” cheeseburger. The beefy ensemble can come with one or two patties, each melted with aged cheddar cheese and stacked with thick-cut tomatoes, red onion slivers, pickle chips, crisp lettuce, and a tangy “Wasp sauce.” A toasted potato bun holds it all in place. The concept is owned by restaurateur Adam Jones and chef Blaine Staniford, who also own and operate nearby downtown fine-dining destinations Grace and the new 61 Osteria Italian restaurant.
Wishbone & Flynt
Ask for the Flynt Burger at this South Main Street hub for high-end, home-cooked dishes. With a custom-blended patty made from short rib, ground chuck, and brisket seared in rich and luxurious duck fat (a game-changer), the result is juicy and flavorful. The burger comes with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles, along with tangy slices of white cheddar melted on top. A fluffy, toasted brioche bun keeps everything in place.
The Best Burger category is sponsored by Goodstock by Nolan Ryan. The Tastemaker Awards event will feature a Burger Throwdown where attendees will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite slider.