(1) Jakes, 515 Main St., Fort Worth vs. (5) Chop House Burgers, 1700 W. Park Row Drive, Arlington
A descendent of the legendary Keller's Drive-In (see the Mustard Region), Jakes is a native of Dallas' White Rock area and has spawned numerous other locations. Instead of the super-thin patties of the Keller days of yore, Jakes mostly does the double-patty dance now, and the best of the lot is -- usually -- the Jakes Special. Cuddled by a wide, soft poppy-seed bun, the dual layer of meat is separated by a thin sheet of cheese that -- on this visit -- disappeared into the ground beef. Tissue-thin slices of tomato and teensy, frilly shreds of lettuce likewise evaporated into the sizzling patty heat. The resulting burger was basically meat and bread, made worse by the absence of promised Thousand Island dressing. Even if this Jakes Special had been in its top form, though, we're not sure it could have held a candle to the Chop House burger, an Arlington upstart that has built a reverent following in just seven months of business. One bite into the bacon cheeseburger, and we knew why: Framed by butter-swept toasted bun halves, the monster patty -- made of ground steak and slow-roasted brisket -- was redolent with a deeply smoky steak sauce and cooked a perfectly pinkish medium. That's not all: The thickly sliced, applewood-smoked bacon contrasted beautifully with the gooey, melted cheddar that seeped into the juicy crevices of the beef. We're not in the business of making predictions, but after this performance, we can't help but wonder if this upstart has the potential to go all the way.
The winner: Chop House Burgers