Tuesday, September 27, 2022 Sep 27, 2022
82° F Dallas, TX
Lunch Box

For an Old-School Backyard Burger, Go to Heim (and Resist the Barbecue)

A new installment in our ongoing series of suggestions on alternative uses for our favorite restaurants.
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Heim Hell Burger
The not-so-hellish Hellburger at Heim. Brian Reinhart

Within our weekly Lunch Box column, we’ve explored the idea of getting creative with how you use restaurants, repurposing them in imaginative ways. First, I wrote about the pleasures of getting a weekday lunch in Deep Ellum. More recently there was a suggestion to go to sports bars for food specials when they’re not showing sports.

Now here is our next pro tip: try the burger at a barbecue joint.

This summer was just too hot for barbecue eating. When the temperature slipped past 105 and going outside felt like walking into a pizza oven, I could not bring myself to eat big, salty, smoky chunks of meat. I wasn’t alone: many barbecue joints felt the pain as the heat kept customers from forming their typical long lines.

But there’s nothing wrong with a well-balanced burger, and barbecue restaurants have been getting into the burger game for a while. As Daniel Vaughn has documented for Texas Monthly, burgers are becoming a common statewide menu item. Some burger patties are formed from the small pieces trimmed off your perfect brisket slices. Some of the patties are smoked.

Barbecue-joint burgers are less common in the Dallas area than they are in Houston and Austin, where Vaughn found some examples that left me full of envy. But Zavala’s has dabbled in burger nights. And then there’s the local leader, the mini-chain that’s all in on beef and buns: Heim. Heim BBQ sells six kinds of hamburger, making it almost as much of a burger joint as it is a bacon burnt end vendor. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration: the bacon burnt ends still reign supreme.)

In recent weeks I’ve sampled two of Heim’s burgers and come away impressed with their attention to detail. The Hellburger may sound alarming, but it’s an ode to jalapeño peppers, not a human-versus-food challenge. Sliced peppers get sauteed with sweet onions and piled onto a patty with pepper jack cheese. The bun itself contains finely chopped jalapeños and cheddar. That’s the whole ingredient list. It’s a simple, backyard-style burger, and the backyard feel is strengthened by the meat itself, the kind of loosely-packed patty I make when I’m grilling burgers at home. It’s not a stiff, ex-frozen puck or a crisped-up smashburger.

Like the Hellburger, the Funky Burger is a sandwich that begs to be eaten outside. It, too, is a simple no-veggie combination that tastes like something that your friend made on a backyard grill. In this case, the single patty, blue cheese, and bacon burnt end jam combine for a funky, meaty, sweet note not unlike the taste of a sloppy joe. Only much less sloppy. (You can skip the onion rings, so thickly breaded they’re like extra-large pakoras. I also recommend waiting for your order inside; once I sat on the patio and my buzzer never went off.)

With burgers like these, I’m going to get mighty distracted each time I visit Heim BBQ. Okay, yes, they still have brisket and ribs and all those good things. Maybe next time.

Author

Brian Reinhart

Brian Reinhart

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Brian Reinhart became D Magazine's dining critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants for the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.

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