Not all burgers are about the beef.
These days you can find everything from buffalo to ostrich and even kangaroo in between two buns, fueled in part by the desire for a sandwich with all the sloppy fun of a hamburger but with less of the fat. But the most popular of these alternatives is the turkey burger, which can be found in mainstream fast-food chains as well as more trendy fast-casual eateries.
With this mind, we set out across the Metroplex in search of the perfect t-burger, hoping we wouldn't run into too much t-pain. Are there any that will make the devotee of the dead cow switch to the dead bird instead?
Hmm, probably not -- but a few are satisfying reminders that eating healthier doesn't always mean sacrificing taste.
H2 Burger Co.
The big thing that separates turkey burgers from their beefier cousins is the amount of fat. Turkey burgers, especially if they are made purely from the breast, can be dry. Slap that patty between less-than-fresh slices of bread, and you might as well be eating a Brillo pad. That's where the toppings come in -- and that's why H2's Big Bird burger comes in at the top of the list. The relatively juicy, decent-sized patty comes slathered in caramelized balsamic onions, arugula pesto, mustard seeds and tomato, making any fears of dryness evaporate. Adding to the sense of textural heaven was the fresh ciabatta bread. $10 (with side salad). Inside the Red Goose Saloon, 306 Houston St., Fort Worth, 817 332-4343
Ketchup Burger Bar
Ketchup's shtick is the selection of gourmet ketchups available to put on its burgers, including their turkey burger, which comes with white cheddar, jalapeño corn salsa, arugula and spiced aioli. I chose the green tomato ketchup -- other options include chipotle, spice and house -- and it went well with the other toppings. The aioli alone might have been enough to put Ketchup Burger Bar over the top, but the bun seemed a little bit stale and that took away from some of the enjoyment. $8. 3028 N. Hall St., Dallas, 214-922-8222, ketchupbar.com
Twisted Root Burger Co.
At Twisted Root, you can order any specialty burger and substitute turkey for beef, and this is where things get interesting with the options being these: Swiss-mushroom; blue cheese tangy buffalo sauce; pepper jack, bacon, jalapeño, fried onion strings; chipotle, guacamole and cheddar; and peppercorn ranch and bacon. I went with the chipotle, guac and cheese and was glad I did. It had a nice, spicy kick to it; you don't miss the beef in the least. $5.99 (basic); $7.99 (specialty). 5609 SMU Blvd., Dallas, 214-361-2910 (other locations in Roanoke, Deep Ellum, Richardson, Fairview, Plano), twistedrootburgerco.com
Village Burger Bar
Village Burger Bar offers two very different T-burger experiences. There's the original -- which comes with jalapeño jack cheese, dried cranberries, baby greens, tomato and mayo -- and it's like a little bit Thanksgiving all year round. Although it is solid, I've also been underwhelmed by it in the past. More recently, though, the Village has added the superior Southwest Turkey Burger, which keeps the cheese and tomato from the original and subs in avocado aioli and spinach. That aioli is a certified awesome sauce. The only thing that knocks this burger down a notch is that the patty is somewhat on the thin side. $6.20. 3699 McKinney Ave., Dallas (other locations in Plano and Allen), 214-443-9998. villageburgerbar.com
Mooyah Burgers and Fries
At Mooyah, it's toppings über alles. You can choose your burger beef, turkey or veggie and choose from nine sauces, eight vegetables, or go with it Mooyah Style (lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, sauce). If you don't mind coughing up a bit more cash, you can also add bacon, avocado or American, cheddar or Swiss cheese. I went with a little from each, including avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, mushrooms, relish and sauce. There's an overall freshness to everything, but the sandwich is brought down by what feels like a pre-formed patty. That said, the fact that you can get out of there for about five bucks makes the whole experience very tasty. $4.99. 6713 W. Northwest Highway, Dallas, 214-987-2666 (other locations in Southlake, Colleyville, Watauga, Euless, Burleson, Flower Mound, Little Elm, Coppell, Plano and Richardson), mooyah.com
The prize for the largest T-burger has to go to Pappas Burgers' turkey mushroom burger. They certainly give you a lot for your $10.95, including a side of fries. But bigger isn't always better. The patty was overly seasoned and the toppings -- Swiss cheese, lettuce, mayonnaise and grilled onions -- aren't enough to make up for it. Not bad, but it lacks the punch of its competitors. $10.95. 2700 West Freeway, Fort Worth, 817 870-9736, pappasburger.com
This California-based chain is offering three versions of charbroiled turkey burgers: basic (mayo, tomato, red onion, lettuce, pickles); teriyaki (grilled pineapple, teriyaki glaze, Swiss cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato); and guacamole (pepper jack cheese, guacamole, tomato, lettuce).The latter is by far the best. Though the sandwiches are relatively small, they're far from inedible. Points, too, for being the cheapest of the bunch. $2.99 basic, $3.69 guacamole. 4341 Lemmon Ave., Dallas, 214 329-0015 (other locations in Arlington, Denton, Mesquite, Rockwall and Carrolton), carlsjr.com