Ketchup Region contenders
(1) Chop House Burgers vs. (8) Grumps Burgers
(1) Chop House Burgers: Narrowly losing to the now-closed Pops Burgers and Grill in our 2011 bracket, Chop House didnt retreat to lick its meaty wounds in defeat. Instead, chef Kenny Mills doubled down, opening a second burger joint in Mansfield and the decidedly non-burger-oriented Chop House Steaks & Seafood earlier this year in Pantego. He also appeared on an episode of the popular Food Network series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, which has raised the former steakhouse chefs profile even more. But can Mills and his delicious Chop House burger claim the top spot this time around? One could make the argument that, given the demise of Pops, Chop House is something of a defending champion. Two locations; judging takes place at 1700 W. Park Row Drive, No. 116, Arlington. www.chophouseburgers.com .
(8) Grumps Burgers: Situated in downtown Burleson, this homey burger joint has passionate fans the eatery rode a wave of public support to become one of two reader-voted play-ins and a heartwarming backstory. In 2001, Collier Albright, tired of the corporate world, began to talk to his wife about going into business for himself. He wasnt good enough at golf or fishing to turn those pursuits into a living, so they decided to open the kind of place where they like to eat, one that treats customers well and takes care with its food, and Grumps (an approximation of Gramps) was born. Four locations; judging at 108 S. Main St., Burleson. www.grumpstexas.com .
(2) Maple & Motor vs. (7) Peace Burger
(2) Maple & Motor: Although it has only been around a few years, Maple & Motor seems as if it has been part of the North Texas culinary scene forever. Run by the colorful and supremely confident restaurateur Jack Perkins, this Dallas spot (another veteran of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) still makes local foodies swoon, and on its Facebook page, describes itself as a grease-stained tribute to low-class cool. Judging from the crowded parking lot, people love their grease-stained tributes. For its first matchup, Maple & Motor goes to war against Peace Burger, a self-described dive bar and grill from Grapevine. 4810 Maple Ave., Dallas. www.facebook.com/mapleandmotor .
(7) Peace Burger Dive Bar & Grill: Grapevine is a long way from anything that could be remotely described as a beach, but that doesnt stop Peace Burger from cultivating a laid-back, carefree vibe. Opened in 2008 by Tony Segovia, the Peace Burger itself is a spicy nod to local palates, as it features guacamole, jalapeños and Monterey Jack cheese. But dont let the psychedelic decor and peace motif fool you this burger joint can bring the heat. But does it have the gumption to stand toe-to-toe with Maple & Motor? We shall see. 1228 William D. Tate Ave., Grapevine. peaceburger.net .
(3) Jakes vs. (6) Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House
(3) Jakes: Despite finishing second in our inaugural Burger Battle, this Dallas-based mini-chain, which opened its first Tarrant County location in 2009, was knocked out in the second round in 2011. Known for its poppy-seed buns, double patties and bottle caps i.e., fried jalapeños, which you can order separately or as a burger topping Jakes will be hungering for redemption. Its first matchup finds it clashing with a local, chef-driven critical darling in Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House. So Jakes will have to be on its game from the first (dinner) bell. Multiple locations; judging at 2702 McKinney Ave., No. 101, Dallas. www.jakesuptown.com.
(6) Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House: Tucked away in East Dallas, Goodfriend has been on the tip of local foodies tongues almost since it opened two years ago. The menu, overseen by chefs Jeana Johnson and Colleen OHare, features 11 unique, flavorful burger creations. Try the Loretta, topped with bacon jam and piquant blue cheese, or the Pepper Bomb, loaded with spicy harissa sauce, as well as roasted tomatoes and chipotle cheddar cheese. Goodfriend is also stocked with locally brewed beers, which means it could become one of our best friends as long as the grass-fed beef burgers are as good as advertised. 1154 Peavy Road, Dallas. goodfrienddallas.com .
(4) Tommys vs. (5) Kellers
(4) Tommys Hamburger Grill: Despite its hometown-hero status, Tommys has had a tough time in our Burger Battles. In 2011, the Fort Worth institution ran into Arlington juggernaut Chop House in the first round. In 2009, Tommys collided with another chef-driven enterprise, Tim Loves Love Shack. Still, Tommys, which has been grilling thick, bodacious backyard-style burgers for 29 years, has its die-hard fans and a classic appeal. It could go much deeper in the bracket, if only it can power its way past the opening round. 5228 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth. www.tommyshamburgergrill.com.
(5) Kellers Drive-in: For as much as Freds or Kincaids or, yes, Tommys captures the hearts and minds of Tarrant County burger lovers, so, too, does Kellers seduce the stomachs of Dallas diners. Situated on Northwest Highway, Kellers, a drive-in straight out of American Graffiti, is often packed on spring and summer evenings (year-round, if were honest) and its signature burger, the No. 5, was singled out by GQ Magazine seven years ago as one of the 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die. But Kellers, too, had its missteps in our first two burger battles. So this will be a classic showdown, with years of pride on the line. Two locations; judging at 6537 E. Northwest Highway, Dallas.