In the midst of another heated DFW.com burger battle, we pause for a moment to appreciate the culinary creativity going on between two buns that has very little to do with beef.
Salmon, lamb, chicken, tuna and shrimp have all joined the patty party that used to be largely reserved for turkey burgers. (And that doesn’t even take into account the veggie burger vanguard — read all about those in our Lonesome Vegetarian column.)
But for now, let’s go beyond the beef and take a bite out of some of the best “alternaburgers” in DFW:
1. LSA Burger Co.: This busy Denton spot on the square has a festive atmosphere underscored by the portraits of famous Texas musicians, bartenders who spontaneously start dancing, and long waits on weekends. LSA’s hefty selection of “Not Burgers” includes at least two winners: the Janis (crab cake, arugula, tomato, pickled red onions, house mayo dressing, $10) and the Norah (lamb, feta cheese, spinach, tomato, pickled red onions, house mayonnaise, $8). Both the lamb and the crab come in thick patties with the pickled onions delivering crunch and a savory kick. If you didn’t pick up on it, the Janis is named after Janis Joplin and the Norah after Norah Jones. And, yes, they are worth the wait. 113 W. Hickory St., Denton. 940-383-1022; www.lsaburger.com.
2. Hopdoddy Burger Bar: The Austin-based chain, which has three Dallas-area locations, scored high on our list of best turkey burgers in 2013, so we had a feeling we’d like their Thunderbird (chicken, pepper jack cheese, smoked bacon, avocado, poblanos, pico de gallo, chipotle Mayo, $10), the Greek (lamb, feta cheese, arugula, pickled red onions, cucumber, tzatziki sauce, $9.25), and Ahi Tuna Burger (tuna, sprouts, teriyaki, honey wasabi, pickled ginger, mayo, $12.25), and we were right. 3227 McKinney Ave., Dallas, 214-871-2337; 6030 Luther Lane, Dallas, 214-363-2337; and 5100 Belt Line Road, Addison, 972-387-2337, www.hopdoddy.com.
3. Kozy Kitchen: Eating for health may be a primary goal of this popular Dallas restaurant — its motto is “eat, live, love” — but there’s more here than wheatgrass and tofu. The grass-fed buffalo burger, served on challah bread buns with a choice of cheese (bleu, goat, raw cheddar, mozzarella, feta) and toppings (sauteed onions, sauteed mushrooms, onions, avocado, portobello mushrooms, guacamole, bacon), is a feast of flavor. With fat content that’s lower than beef, buffalo can sometimes seem dry but that’s not the case here. This is a favorite, made even better because the plate comes with a pile of steamed veggies and a bowl of smashed potatoes. The drawback? At $17 (with toppings running from $1 to $3 extra), it’s by far the most expensive burger on this list. 4433 McKinney Ave., Dallas. 214-219-5044; www.thekozy.net .
4. Rodeo Goat: These guys won the 2013 DFW.com burger battle so it’s no shock they can bring it with other meats as well. The Country Joe and the Fish (salmon, quinoa and flaxseed patty, tomato, sprouts, avocado, lemon mayo, $10.50) is an especially vibrant kick to the tastebuds. We preferred it over the chicken burger (chicken patty, tomato, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, mayonnaise, $8.50), but Rodeo Goat will sub a chicken, turkey, veggie or quinoa patty for beef in any of their burgers. 817-877-4628, 2836 Bledsoe, Fort Worth; 1926 Market Center Blvd., Dallas, 214-741-4628. rodeogoat.com
5. Twisted Root Burger Co.: While other places don’t make a big deal out of their “alternaburgers,” this North Texas mini-chain takes pride in them. The menus vary by location, but Twisted Root offers kangaroo, venison, elk, lamb and rabbitt burgers and will let you replace beef in any of their burgers for $4 more. Elk was available during a recent visit to the Arlington location and, although we worried it might be a bit too gamy, it wasn’t. The meat worked well as the patty on our Lots-A-Shroom burger (baby portabello mushrooms, garlic, Swiss cheese, $10.99, including the game-meat upcharge). 310 E. Abram St., Arlington and many other locations; twistedrootburgerco.com
6. Bronson Rock Burgers and Beer: We haven’t seen too many shrimp burgers on area menus, so we had to try this one at Bronson Rock, the bikers, burgers and music hangout in Keller. The shrimp burger ($12.99) — a shrimp-and-peppers packed patty, topped with cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, fried onions and a slightly spicy barbecue sauce — is a welcome change from a traditional fish burger. We’d have liked it even more on a less standard-issue hamburger bun. 250 S. Main St., Keller. 817-431-5543; bronsonrocktx.com
7. Shaw’s Patio Bar & Grill: Here’s a turkey burger with a twist. This Fort Worth eatery features a turkey Cobb, a patty topped with bacon, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, bleu cheese crumbles and dressing ($10.99). So it’s kind of a sandwich-meets-salad combo. The turkey Cobb offers a unique flavor profile, which may not be for everyone, but it certainly amps up the intensity from a plain ol’ turkey burger. 1051 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth. 817-926-2116; www.shawspatio.com