Fred’s Texas Cafe, our 2009 champion and a Final Four burger in 2011, served up its signature Diablo piping hot and cooked meticulously to medium, as requested. The first bite sent an exhilarating rush of heat up our nostrils, the chipotle peppers flashing Fred’s championship form. The beef was juicy, too, lightly spiced and melded nicely with the vinegary mustard, pickles and sweet grilled onions. But our Swiss cheese, the creamy yin to the chipotles’ fiery yang, wasn’t fully melted, throwing off the burger’s equilibrium. When the flimsy Mrs Baird’s bun gave way on our third bite, the Diablo seemed, for once, vulnerable.
Burger Xtreme, in business just a couple of years, occupies a corner space in a southwest Fort Worth strip mall. Nothing remarkable to see here, except the burgers — half-pound beauties served on sturdy 5-inch buns. Our Bacon Cheeseburger Extreme was juicy throughout, cooked to the requested medium, and the patty had more assertive salt-and-pepper flavor. The American cheese was melted masterfully, and the bacon was among the best we’ve had: smoky, chewy, an able sidekick to the beef. The veggies were fresh, and only a heavy hand with the mustard kept this burger from being an unqualified success.
If this had been a prize fight, we might have called it a draw. Two heavyweights — one famous, the other virtually unknown — throwing haymakers, neither willing to go down. But in the end, it was the ex-champ that seemed more wobbly, undone by a bun.
Winner: Burger Xtreme