In these burger-licious times, it may be hard to remember, but when chef Tim Love opened the first Love Shack in the Stockyards in 2007, it was a trailblazing move. Though it was a mere five years ago, few other folks had the idea of taking the everyday burger and putting it on a pedestal the way Love did. He used a different grind of beef -- tenderloin combined with brisket -- and was the first to popularize the idea of topping a burger with a sunny-side egg.
That's all old hat now, as followers like Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House in East Dallas and Chop House Burgers in Arlington have opened, and Austin's Hopdoddy Burger Bar has emigrated to Dallas' Preston Center. These days, who doesn't have a burger with an egg?
So the context for this latest Love Shack, which opened in the old Caro's space on Blue Bonnet Circle and replaces the branch at So7 that closed in May, is decidedly different than the original. While the menu still features trademarks like the Dirty Love Burger ($6.75), the place feels more like a TCU bar than a chef-driven burger emporium.
Milkshake flavors are limited to chocolate and vanilla, without the "shake of the day" option offered at the Stockyards; the big drink here is beer. "Go Horned Frogs" signs hang on the wall, along with a row of big-screen TVs. The restaurant adjoins the Oui Lounge, which Love also owns; you can order food and take it over there, if you like.
That said, the original menu, a barebones affair, has seen some expansion, with a few new items for those seeking culinary thrills.
Those included nachos ($6.93, plus $3 for the addition of chicken), a goulash of chips, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a big scoop of guacamole. The cheese was queso, which pooled at the bottom like a rich and creamy surprise. The chips, a mixture of golden and dark blue corn, came topped with fresh jalapeno slices and chopped lettuce and tomato that lent a note of freshness. Chunks of chicken had good grilled flavor but were somewhat tough.
An "Amore Caliente" ($6.24) was a burger with a twist: It came in a tortilla rather than on a traditional bun. A flattened burger patty came with appealingly large chunks of chipotle pepper, grilled until soft, with shredded lettuce and melted cheese. Spicy and sloppy-good, the combination of the chile and the cheese was so satisfying, you almost didn't need the burger.
For yearning gourmands, the "heated hot dog" ($5.54) came with a notable topper: Lonesome Dove's pork green chili, for a little kick. It also came with chopped onion and grated cheddar, which it could have completely done without. The bun was buttered and toasted, and the hot dog gave a nice pop when you took a bite. Other hot dog options included the Flying Dog ($5.50) with chiles, cheddar -- and, what's this, a quail egg. Egg on a hot dog -- new trend, maybe?