For its first eight months of existence, what is now Best Burger Barn didn’t have a barn — or, for that matter, a roof. Owner Byron Rose grilled burgers in his front yard in Egan, a tiny unincorporated Johnson County community south of Burleson and northeast of Cleburne. He did business from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, he says, with just a backyard grill, a small fish fryer and a dorm-room refrigerator.
A small shack with a patio under some oak trees followed, with full-time hours for the next three years. Then he moved into a full-service, sit-down restaurant in Egan in February 2013. This escaped our notice during the 2013 and 2015 DFW.com Burger Battles because, well, it’s not exactly in a place that’s on the beaten path.
Enough people found it, however, that Rose was able to add a second dining room in January 2015, and he’s now opening a patio at the Egan location.
Rose opened a second location in March 2016 in Burleson, and it quickly began getting social-media buzz. It’s a little closer to south and southwest Fort Worth, and if you’re lucky enough to catch I-35W on a good day, it’s not all that long a drive from downtown Fort Worth.
When a friend and I first visited, we were a little surprised by the burger menu — it’s a lot different from the online menu, which Rose says is constantly evolving. Aside from something called the Falkenburger and an elk burger, the online burger menu (at this writing, at least) is pretty basic.
But the store menu listed such items as the Floozie and Satan’s Southwest Burger, which were starting to head into Rodeo Goat territory.
Seeking middle ground, I went for the bacon bleu burger ($6.99), a third-pound patty with “secret spices,” blue cheese, thick-cut bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and mayo, although I went with mustard instead.
The server informed us that all the patties are cooked well-done. I asked if I could get mine medium. It came well-done. That might sound like a glitch, but at a place like this it’s more like having the courage of your convictions.
And it wasn’t too dry, and it was well-seasoned. The bacon was crispy and smoky. The blue cheese was creamy and pungent without upstaging everything else, and the pickles had a good sour bite to them. Accompanying onion rings ($1.50 for a small order), however, were fairly ordinary.
Our other burger choice was the Floozie ($8.50). It was served open-faced — it’s probably best to tackle this mushroom-Swiss-egg-coleslaw burger with a fork. The egg was cooked to a slight runniness, the patty again well-seasoned, the coleslaw’s crunchy sweetness acting as a counterpoint to the other components.
Fries ($1.50 for a small) were on the soft, glistening side, with hints of skin. But the burgers are the stars here.
On a second visit to try a nonburger offering, I had the Reuben ($6.99), described on the menu in fairly traditional terms: corned beef, Swiss cheese, grilled sauerkraut, on rye, with Thousand Island dressing. The only difference when it came to the table was that it was served on something closer to Texas toast. This was not a huge drawback, just a little unexpected.
The corned beef was excellent, the sauerkraut had punch, the cheese was generous and melted well — all in all, a very good Reuben. Or a very good, slightly offbeat take on a Reuben.
There are plenty of reasons to return: Not only are there more than a dozen burgers (including a turkey patty and a veggie garden burger), but there are entrees worth checking out such as the Back Porch chicken, a grilled chicken breast covered with pepperjack, tomatoes and red onions, served with fries or a baked potato and a side salad.
Desserts include peach cobbler and banana pudding — but when you learn that one of the desserts is called Possum Pecker Pie ($4.99), it kinda makes you curious. It’s a pie Elvis would envy, but beyond the peanut butter and bananas, it also has a cream-cheese filling, jalapeño jelly and pecans, all atop a graham-cracker crust and topped with whipped cream.
Surprisingly, this was not a mishmash. The flavors tended to reveal themselves in stages, starting with the peanut butter, followed by the banana and then by the hints of spice from the jalapeño jelly, a well-balanced mix of sweet and heat. Everything else acted in support, and the crust brought that comfort-food feeling home.
The Burleson location is in an anonymous strip center about a mile east of Interstate 35W (the strip also has a doughnut shop and a fitness center — decisions, decisions). Rose says he’s considering other locations, but he’s not sure when or even if those will happen.
For right now, chalk Best Burger Barn up as another worthy warrior in North Texas’ burger wars.