Arranging the top half of the Burger Battle bracket is relatively simple: We go with past winners and with places that have been consistently strong contenders in past battles. Sometimes, if they disappointed us in the previous battle, they’re seeded a notch or two lower.
Then there’s the bottom half, which is a little tougher, as we seek out new joints that the judges consider worthy of inclusion, and past underdogs that we think deserve another change. If a place impressed us, it’s seeded a notch or two higher than it was in the past.
And then there’s that No. 32 slot, which is always the subject of much debate and some angst. Because there are more than 32 good burger places, even in a bracket that’s heavier on Tarrant and western Metroplex this year and lighter on Dallas joints. Here are some we considered:
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers: Not to be confused with Ted E’s Kitchen, which is in the bracket, this Hawaiian-based chain has one Tarrant location, in Colleyville. If you haven’t been or haven’t been in a while, the list of specialty burgers has grown beyond what’s on the website, almost making such adventurous burger places as Rodeo Goat and Hopdoddy look modest. Don’t skip the umami-style fries. 4712 Colleyville Blvd., No. 100, Colleyville, http://www.teddysbb.com
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Chop House Burger: Not to confused with Pantego’s Chop House Burgers — note the plural, and it’s in the bracket — Dallas-based Chop House Burger reminds us of places like Liberty Burger and BurgerFi that skew toward “gourmet” burgers but don’t overload their menu with choices (of the seven burgers on the online menu, only three are made with beef). Great shakes and truffle-Parmesan french fries. 2720 Texas 121, Euless, and 300 Throckmorton St., Fort Worth; also 1501 Main St., Dallas; http://chophouseburger.com
Jimmy’s Big Burgers: This Lake Worth joint has a following, and there’s a reason for that, but we liked another Lake Worth joint, Jobo’s Burger Grill, a little more — enough that this got edged out of the bracket. 6334 Lake Worth Blvd., Jimmy’s Big Burgers on Facebook.
Chapps Burgers: A longtime Tarrant County joint, it fell off our radar after quick exits in previous battles. But go to the website and look at the picture of the Knockout burger, a bacon-fried egg-mozzarella burger with basil mayo. Time for a revisit. Multiple DFW locations, including Arlington original; http://chappsburgers.com
Mixed-Up Burgers: This former Burger Battle contender has the potential to return, but got bumped out again this year. All the toppings are packed into the patties, then grilled together. 510 E. Ave. K, Grand Prairie, https://www.mixedupburgers.com
Myrtle’s Burgers: Some day, someone is going to do a Farm Road 1187 burger battle, pitting this Burleson shack against in-the-bracket places such as Fuego Burger in Rendon and Nicky D’s in Crowley. And we love any place where the answer to “How do you cook your patties?” is “on the grill.” 4568 E. Farm Road 1187, Burleson, 817-561-1836; Facebook: @myrtlesburgers
Al’s Hamburgers: “Serving Arlington since 1957,” it says on the website — and about the fanciest thing on the burger menu is the optional jalapeño bacon (99 cents extra). Top price: $6.45 for a double open-face chili-cheeseburger. 1001 N.E. Green Oaks Blvd., No. 103, Arlington, www.alshamburgers.com/id3.htm
Burger Extreme: The Fort Worth location has closed, but the Arlington hole-in-the-wall is still there, serving such delicacies as the Double Mega Extreme Cheese Burger, which is a 1-pound patty with — oh, everything. The condiments alone on this one — mayo, ketchup, hickory sauce, mustard — are pretty extreme. 1121 W. Arkansas Lane, Arlington, @BurgerExtremeToTheMax on Facebook
Chuyito’s Texican Burgers: In 2015, this joint just south of the Fort Worth Stockyards was in the bracket, but a quick exit in 2015 and diminished buzz led us to omit it this time. Still, any places that had something called the “El Chingon ‘Bad Azz’ ” burger is a place to be reckoned with. 1521 N. Main St., Fort Worth, @chuyitosburgers on Facebook
Morris Neal’s Handy Hamburgers: What Kincaid’s is to Fort Worth, Al’s is to Arlington and Clown Burger is to Haltom City — that’s what Morris Neal’s is to Cleburne, with its 1950s-style burgers. 200 S. Mill St., Cleburne, no website or official Facebook page.