When it comes to burger brackets, this is not DFW.com’s first rodeo.
The first time we saddled up was in 2009, and it was a wild ride. Mistakes were made, lessons were learned and one gallbladder was lost, but eventually a regal champion was crowned: Fred’s Texas Cafe.
Fred’s fiery Diablo Burger, topped with Swiss cheese and chipotles, seared a place in our hearts and defeated some top-caliber competition just in Fort Worth (back then we grouped our regions geographically. Not anymore; too many great burgers in west Fort Worth!) And then Fred’s dismissed the Dallas champion Jakes in the final.
In our Readers’ Bracket, M&O Station Grill showed its competitive spirit by rallying its loyal fan base to beat Tommy’s and claim the title of People’s Champion.
Two years later, which is about how long it took us to drop the burger weight, we began our burger odyssey anew, and it would take us to many new places: In-N-Out, Five Guys, Chop House Burgers, Maple & Motor and Heart Attack Grill had all come to play.
It’s little wonder, then, that a first-timer would take the title in 2011. Pop’s Burger and Grill, located in a nondescript strip mall in far west Fort Worth, delivered masterpiece after masterpiece, taking down Kincaid’s and 2009 champ Fred’s to reach the final, where it defeated another thrilling newcomer, Chop House in Arlington.
The Readers’ Bracket champion was a classic: Charley’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers.
Pop’s would eventually move to a bigger location on Trail Lake Drive, just around the corner from Charley’s. But what should have become a beautiful burger corner never really took shape. About a year and half later, Pop’s closed, leaving a hole in our bracket and a touch of sadness in our gut.
But as we begin the eating frenzy all over again, we’re reminded of just how competitive the burger landscape in DFW has become, and how lucky we are to be eating our way across it.