The Heimburger at Heim Barbecue & Catering consists of two Texas Akaushi beef brisket patties with American cheese, topped with bacon-burnt-end jam.
That’s the menu description, anyway. It doesn’t do the burger justice.
The Heimburger comes on a slightly sweetened bun that seems to be the reason food-writing cliches like “pillowy” were invented. Lift up the top bun and the cheese, an abundance that’s melted till it oozes, magma-style, over and through the patties, sticks to the buns but also covers the patties.
And that’s all great, but when you take a bite of the patties themselves you get smoky goodness from the brisket and a hit of saltiness from the bacon-burnt-end jam. You can add pickles and onions, but why would you?
A lot of people believe that the Heimburger is one of the best, if not the best burger in town. So why isn’t it in the Burger Battle? Because the Burger Battle focuses on burger joints, specifically ones with multiple burgers on their menus. As the judges proceed through the bracket, we try other burgers at each place.
You could argue that Swiss Pastry Shop doesn’t belong, but it does have a separate burger menu and its burgers have earned a following.
The Heimburger is also kind of a unicorn burger: It’s a little hard to spot. It’s available on Mondays. After 4 p.m. Sometimes it makes appearances on other days. The bracket format means that we need to be able to try burgers several days a week.
But it’s not alone in being a great burger at a non-burger joint; Magnolia Avenue alone (Heim is at 1109 W. Magnolia Ave. Fort Worth; 817-882-6970, http://heimbbq.com) has several standouts at its restaurants. Here are those and some others in the Fort Worth area. (Note to Dallas burger fans: They’ll get their turn soon.)
The L.U.S.T. burger at Bearded Lady: A poblano-and-feta-stuffed half-pound patty topped with melted Gouda, caramelized onions and fresh avocado and served on a brioche roll, was featured on the cover of Texas Monthly’s 2016 “50 Best Burgers in Texas” issue (it ranked No. 3), and made one of our food writers consider leaving her husband for it. 1229 Seventh Ave., Fort Worth, 817-349-9832, The Bearded Lady on Facebook
The Kolache Burger at Pearl Snap Kolaches: A good, mostly traditional burger — two quarter-pound Angus beef patties with Colby cheddar — except that its served on kolache-dough buns. This won best burger at Burgers, Brews and Blues at this year’s Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival, but although Pearl Snap has slightly expanded its burger menu, it’s not in the battle for the same reasons the Heimburger isn’t. 4006 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth; second location coming soon to 2743 Hulen St; 1229 Seventh Ave., Fort Worth, 817-349-9832. The Bearded Lady on Facebook.
The Cafe Burger at Press Cafe: Another burger that made Texas Monthly’s list, this one features beef ground in-house, watercress, caramelized onions, Huntsman cheese and pickles. What’s Huntsman cheese? Cheese.com says it’s “a concoction of two classic cheeses produced in the English countryside. Double Gloucester is a firm, mellow and tangy cheese made only from the milk of Gloucester cows in southwestern England while Stilton blue cheese is a blue-veined, strong, smooth and creamy cheese with a distinctive flavor profile.” Fancy, huh? 4801 Edwards Ranch Road, No. 105, Fort Worth, 817-570-6002, http://www.presscafeftworth.com/
The regular cheeseburger at Roy Pope Grocery: The Kobe beef cheeseburger is the star here, but contributor (and Burger Battle judge) Anna Caplan preferred the regular cheeseburger, which is nearly half the price of the Kobe: “An understated masterpiece.” 2300 Merrick St., Fort Worth. 817-732-2863; www.roypopegrocery.com.
Hopapeno Hop Fusion at Pouring Glory Craft Beer Growler Filling Station: This south-side bar is also one of Fort Worth’s most underrated restaurants, and it stays true to the brew on its burger menu, where our fave is this fried-egg-topped grilled chuck patty that comes with Hopfusion Hairpin Session Ale pickled jalapeño relish, sliced avocado and queso fresco on ciabatta bread. The fried bacon Thai burger (featuring a patty based with a sweet-pepper Thai sauce made with Wild Acre Brewing Co.‘s Tarantula Hawk India Red Ale0 is also a winner. 1001 Bryan Ave., Fort Worth, 682-707-5441, http://www.pouringglory.com
Lili’s House Burger at Lili’s Bistro: Longtime Fort Worth restaurateur Vance Martin’s classy Magnolia Avenue restaurant is known for its Gorgonzola fries, so it seems almost natural that it should also do a good Gorgonzola-bacon burger, the highlight of a solid but small burger menu. 1310 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817-877-0700, http://lilisbistro.com
The Juicy Lucy at Lucile’s Stateside Bistro: Back in the 1950s, someone in Minneapolis — two bars there lay claim to being the one — dreamed up a then-unusual burger, featuring a patty stuffed with American cheese. Lucile’s rendition is loosely modeled after those but includes red bell peppers, spicy bread-and-butter pickles, diced jalapeños and spicy ketchup. It’s not for the meek, and it’s one of Fort Worth’s best burgers. 4700 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-738-4761, lucilesstatesidebistro.com
The cheeseburger at Little Red Wasp: Wasp owner Adam Jones likes an old-school cheeseburger, and that’s pretty much what this is, unless you don’t consider “Wasp sauce” and a potato bun old-school. The beef is the star here; we recommend the $13 double over the $9 single. The bar at Grace, Little Red Wasp’s tonier older sibling, has a good burger, too. 808 Main St., Fort Worth, 817-877-3111, http://littleredwasp.com
The cheeseburger at Cleburne Golf Links: This is a perfect ending to a nice round of golf, or just to a short drive from Fort Worth. The thick, juicy patty is seasoned to perfection, topped with cheddar, and sits between buttered jalapeño-cheese buns. Be warned: expect mouth burn, because these burgers look so good that you will take a bite even though they’re fresh off the grill. 2501 Country Club Road, Cleburne. 817-641-4501, cleburne.net
The cheeseburger from Longoria’s BBQ: Longoria’s BBQ in Everman specializes in all things brisket. While they may be better known for their brisket sausage and standard barbecue fare, one shouldn’t overlook the brisket cheeseburger. While the burger itself is no-frills with American cheese and fresh veggies, the 100 percent brisket patty gives the burger nice smokey taste. 100 Christopher Drive, Fort Worth. 817-568-9494, longoriasbbq.com
The Seoul City at Orchid City Fusion Cafe: The “fusion” comes from this southeast Arlington hole-in-the-wall’s Asian-and-Cajun menu, but they also do good burgers, including this beautiful mess topped with pork belly, fried egg, peppper jack, kimchi and more. 2135 Southeast Parkway, No.101, Arlington, 817-468-3777, http://www.orchidcitycafe.com
Jason Hoskins of McClatchy News Service and correspondent Malcolm Mayhew contributed to this report