And then it arrived, this mythical burger we'd heard so much about over the past few weeks, this gargantuan combo of meat, chorizo, slices of avocado, queso and fried egg that has the local burger blogosphere in a greasy lather, this new burger that will make us forget about all the other new burgers, this thing called Caca Oaxaca at this place called Rodeo Goat Icehouse.
Three bites in, when the chorizo-infused patty and the egg and the Tabasco mayo all came together, we knew, right then and there, that the hype surrounding Rodeo Goat was, unquestionably, not a bunch of bull.
Rodeo Goat comes to us from the Wynne family, the same restaurateurs who brought us, among others, Flying Saucer and Flying Fish, and Dallas' Meddlesome Moth, from which Rodeo Goat chef Keith Grober was imported.
Opened in November, the Wynnes' debut in the West 7th area, in an old candy factory, is open and airy, neatly divided into three dining areas: a bar with communal tables and stools, a spacious patio decked with fireplaces and picnic tables, and a small, traditional dining area with booths draped in checkerboard tablecloths.
In step with the Wynne clan's other restaurants, there's a focus on booze. Here, it's beers: about 100, ranging from Texas crafts to your usual Buds. There's also a small wine list and custom cocktails; it's all reasonably priced, with nothing more than $10.
But the burgers are the main draw here. Yes, there's a brisket chili ($6.50) and a handful of salads, including a re-imagined Cobb ($10.50) with goat cheese, sirloin and jalapeño croutons. Otherwise, it's burgers -- 15, to be exact, one turkey, one veggie and the rest made of 7-ounce brisket-chuck patties, crowned or smeared with things like peanut butter, prosciutto, Havarti cheese, red chiles, grilled peaches and basil leaves, as well as plain ol' bacon, lettuce and tomato. You can also build your own.
Served on soft, white brioche buns (you can sub for wheat), the patties are ground in-house, not a common practice, although it's worth mentioning that another new Fort Worth restaurant, Brewed, grounds its own burger meat as well. The results, in Rodeo Goat's case, are patties that are full-flavored and vibrantly beefy. They also have a tendency to fall apart easily; to eat all of your burger, you'll need a fork.
We needed a fork anyway for the sugar burger ($9). Of the four burgers we sampled, this was our least favorite, not because topping a burger with chunks of grilled peaches seems like a novelty but because the thing fell apart before our first bite. It just had too much on it: peaches, a small mountain of caramelized onions, two strips of bacon and arugula.
So we ate it like a salad, enjoying how the sweet punch of the peaches played off the smokiness of the bacon, but bummed that the bread had turned to mush. Somewhere in there was supposed to be jalapeño jam, but we never found it.
We much preferred the aforementioned Tex-Mex-flavored Caca Oaxaca ($9) and the Blue Goat ($9), which, compared with some of the burgers, was downright simple, topped only with caramelized onions, a nice garlic mayonnaise spread and a cool, crisp blue cheese slaw that was surprisingly and pleasingly mild.
The sole veggie option, Neil Young ($8.50), came with a patty made of black beans, oats, barley and brown rice. Served on a wheat bun, along with sliced avocados and tomatoes, the patty had a pleasant flavor -- not to mention a sturdier texture than any of the meat burgers we sampled -- but could have used a bit more seasoning to spice it up.
There wasn't a bad burger among those we sampled, but our favorite, the Caca Oaxaca, was cooked the way the menu said it would be, with a warm, pink center. In the end, it doesn't really matter what you put on a burger; it's the meat that counts, and on this particular burger, it was nearly perfect.
Sides consisted of excellent hand-cut, skin-on fries, and equally good house-made chips, nicely salted and crunchy. The Texas caviar -- black-eyed peas mixed with pico de gallo -- was served chilled and just didn't go well with the burgers.
Dessert options included a variety of fried pies ($4), supplied by Deno's Fried Pies in Denison, or shakes made with Blue Bell ice cream ($5).
Service was friendly, quick and knowledgeable. Servers call you by name, remember what you ordered last time you were in and, during our visits at least, make solid beer recommendations with which to pair your burger. If Fort Worth never seems to tire of burgers, it's because of places like this.