By Jose Ralat Maldonado

Photo by 1080 KRLD

In-N-Out finally made it to Dallas proper after creating hysteria in the northern suburbs with dual openings on the same day. The Big D outlet’s premiere didn’t cause such a tizzy. There were no lines formed overnight. No grown men screaming like teenage girls at the Beatles’ Shea Stadium concert.

Having never the joy or pain of eating an In-N-Out burger and with Dallas location within walking distance of my house, I decided to take the plunge. I came away deflated, though full. The burger was indistinguishable from other random sampling of fast-food burger. And it isn’t the only one you can order with something akin to Thousand Island dressing. Nor is it alone in the bestowing of quirky names. The bun strained under the pressure of the toppings. The limp fries, I was later instructed, must be ordered well done. Otherwise, they really aren’t any good. Why you would have to special order fries to receive decent potato sticks is perplexing.

The West coast restaurant brand isn’t the only burger-related hullabaloo in the Metroplex of late. Bon Appétit posted a photo album featuring the magazine’s staff picks for best burgers. Dallas was given a spot by Kary Allen, an editorial intern, who tapped Snuffer’s as serving “Texas heaven.” Allen’s choice smacks of ignorance from a highfalutin food glossy. Where was the listing for the equally gourmet The Commissary, John Tesar’s burger playground? There, a tandoori lamb variation shares table space with a mixture of pigs tail, ground pork and ground beef.

Food & Wine also served its own take on burgers. It released online a Best Burgers in the U.S. slideshow. Naturally, selections from major metropolitan areas like New York and Chicago pepper the selections. Another magazine pick is In-N-Out at number 1. Dallas was stiffed. Instead, Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap was honored on the twenty-third slide.

There are myriad local burger shacks and chains that can take on the California carpetbagger and vaunted bun-and-patty purveyors nationwide. A compilation, some of which were featured on the spectacular 2010 Dallas Burger Tour led by man-about-town–tables, Steven Doyle, are below.

Angry Dog, 2726 Commerce St., 214-741-4406

One would assume with such a name, this award-winning restaurant would be lauded for its hot dog. It is. However, it’s the burger that has received the lion’s share of the press. Presented in a no-fuss manner, the half-pound patty comes with mayo and/or mustard, red onion, lettuce and tomato. The frank, on the other hand, is an elaborate task best undertaken with dedication—and utensils.

Burger House, 6913 Hillcrest Ave., 214-361-0370, various locations

Dallas, like Texas, watches out for Dallas. Its citizenry will fiercely defend homegrown concerns. Burger House, a 60-year-old chain, is one example. The original Park Cities location is a grungy, off-putting strip-mall storefront with a few tables inside and a smattering of metal patio tables on the back porch. Whether you order the classic thin-patty with grilled onions, a side of seasoned “Jack’s Famous Fries” is a must.

The Grape Restaurant, 2808 Greenville Ave., 214-828-1981

This Lower Greenville bistro is home to the best burger in Texas, according to Texas Monthly and the crush of regulars who makes a Sunday brunch reservation near impossible to come by are enough to see why. It doesn’t help that owner-chef Brian C. Luscher is a boisterous gentleman never content with the status quo. For him, happiness isn’t enough. One jaw-dislocating champ of the Grape’s burger and you’ll see why.

Keller’s Drive-In, 6537 E. Northwest Hwy., 214-368-1209

Like In-n-Out, this dilapidated time-capsule, is the benefactor of nostalgia and loyalty more than for a high-quality product. Load up your signature Dallas thin patty with, wait for it, a Thousand Island-like special sauce and a carton of napkins. Weekends, leather-clad bikers, really weekend warriors, and clans packed into SUVs and Priuses clog the drive-in. Better to get your bottom-of-the-barrel-priced, so-greasy-the-paper-bag-is-transparent meal to go.

Maple & Motor, 4810 Maple Ave., 214-522-4400

Add a fried egg to your order and get a week’s worth of taste bud-punching protein with a basket of tater tots. The fact that the joint with a roadhouse interior was recently voted as having the best burger in DFW by readers of CraveDFW supports that case.

The Porch, 2912 N. Henderson Ave., 214-828-2916

The Stodg burger is the Maple & Motor well-dressed older sibling. It also comes with a fried egg and includes aged Cheddar, Nueske’s bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and onion between a foie-buttered buns. It’s a flashy prize reflective of The Porch’s location, Knox-Henderson.

Whataburger, various locations

If California has In-N-Out, Texas has Whataburger. And the Dallas In-N-Out store sits back to back with the Whataburger on Greenville Avenue. Normally, such an action would warrant a strong recourse. The staff and management of Whataburger has made no move to counter. Their business hasn’t suffered, an employee noted.

Twisted Root Burger Co., various locations

Owner Jason Bosso likes to play games with his menu. First up, the burgers, available in…ahm…game varities like emu and boar. Then there are the toppings and condiments, among the favorites are chipotle ranch and fried onion strings. You could order the straightforward fries, but you’d be better off with the fried green beans. The next game Bosso and his partners like to play is new ways of getting customers tipsy. The latest concoction: The Manmosa, a combination of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and chilled orange.

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