The place: Patty Shack Burgers
The story : This burger joint, in a nondescript strip mall on the border of Grand Prairie and Arlington, opened in July. The grand opening is Saturday.
The concept: With the exception of the basic veggies (lettuce, tomatoes, pickles), all of the extra ingredients with the burgers are worked into the meat and cooked on a griddle. That includes the cheese.
About the burgers: The meat is Angus, with an 80/20 lean/fat ratio, so that's a good start. The burgers are made fresh, but they seem to be overworked, so much so that the meat is dry and the ingredients have little or no flavor.
One of the signature burgers, Tex-a-Wowie, is a Hawaiian-inspired patty, with bits of ham, pineapple and provolone inside. There's also red pepper flakes. The pepper was evident, because that's a strong spice. The ham and pineapple pieces were so small that they could barely be tasted. Then again, the burger was nearly burned, so it would have been hard to taste anything except the charcoal flavor. The cheese was so melted, forget about it.
That was an even bigger problem with our "Build Your Own Dang Burger" choice: jalapeño and blue cheese. Again, the pepper was evident, but the cheese -- and in this case one that should have had a bold flavor -- was all but nonexistent. Perhaps it melted too much, too.
We even tried a standard cheeseburger with nothing but American cheese, and again, the cheese was too melted inside, not as noticeable a flavor as if there were a slice on top of the patty. Again, the burger was way too well-done to have much flavor beyond that slightly burned taste. Sometimes, tradition is best.
What does work: The fried sides were much better. Sweet potato fries were thin, crispy and nicely salted. The chili-cheese fries were among the best we've had, with perfectly gooey melted cheddar and the chili atop crispy, plump fries. The potatoes weren't too mushy, which can happen when they feature so much stuff piled on top.
Even better were the corn nuggets, little corn fritters with sweet corn inside and a gooey interior. The taste of the corn was clear, and the batter was the perfect consistency for this dish.
Curly fries were average, and we craved the "Shack Sticks," breaded and fried slivers of jalapeño and onion, but they were out at our visit.
The canned beer (we had Shiner Bock and Tecate) made everything go down nicely.
The ambience: It's a sports bar atmosphere, with testosterone-fueled knickknacks and memorabilia on the walls, including hubcaps, vintage metal restaurant signs ("eat more possum") and vinyl records. The one we sat next to was the cast recording of My Fair Lady, so there's a shout-out to the women. When you order at the counter, you're given a laminated card with the name of a football team on it (NFL, minor league and college), and they call out the team when your order is ready.
The prices: Standard for a burger joint with no pretensions. One-third-pound burgers are $5, and the 1/2-pounders are $6. Starters, sides and salads ranged from $2 to $6. There's a kids menu, a turkey burger option and, fitting for a sports bar, hot wings. Our three burgers, with four sides (sweet potato fries, curly fries, chili cheese fries and corn nuggets), plus two beers, came to about $35.
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Details: Major credit cards, beer served, smoke-free, wheelchair-accessible.