What will you have, the Do It Murph-Style burger or a Locals Only? A Lone Star beer from the tap or an iced tea in a big ol' Styrofoam cup?
The pleasures are simple at Off-Site Kitchen -- the new burger joint at Trinity Groves -- but the rewards can be great. OSK, as it's known, makes some of the best burgers in town.
One of them is that Locals Only, a smashed-and-griddled patty dressed up with bacon, mustard, melted American cheese and chopped jalapeños. Messy and juicy, wrapped in yellow paper and delivered to your table or counter in a plastic basket, it’s short-order delicious in the way that only a burger flipped in a dive can be. Nothing gourmet about it, with its thinnish patty, its good char, its shredded lettuce. Eat this and you’re living in a world where it wouldn’t matter if there had never been an American food revolution.
Nick Badovinus closed his cult-favorite (and Best in DFW-honored) original location on Irving Boulevard in May, and reopened in a larger, snazzier, more comfortable setting in June. It’s also much higher-visibility — in a free-standing brick building on the west end of Trinity Groves’ block of restaurants, near Casa Rubia. A mural by Shepard Fairey splashes color across one wall.
Approach from the parking-lot side around the back and you’ll enter through the patio, with its bright-blue Pabst Blue Ribbon umbrellas, AstroTurf-covered bumper-pool tables and arcade-style basketball hoops. Once it cools down a bit, that’ll be a fun place to hang out.
Inside, the dining room feels like a jazzed-up roadhouse. As expansive as the original was confined (OK, cramped, though I loved it), the new OSK is all beer lights, TV screens, rock ’n’ roll posters and motorcycle gear — call it biker chic. A giant, slightly tattered American flag billows overhead, covering part of the 20-foot ceiling. Coolers filled with canned and bottled beer (mostly lowbrow — Schlitz, Coors Lite and the like) and soda line one wall; another has an arcade video game console and a shuffleboard table. Stationed by the door, Badovinus’ 1979 Kawasaki 900, yellow and black (“Born to Run”!), looks ready to ride away.
An old-fashioned black-and-white menu board over the ordering line announces the grub, beginning with the burgers — six of them. All involve quarter-pound patties of Angus beef (chuck roll and chuck shoulder clod cuts) ground in-house with enough fat to make them juicy and flavorful. With the exception of Locals Only, which leaves off the mayo in favor of mustard (and no, it’s not Dijon), all come dressed with griddled onions, slices of tomato and pickle and shredded iceberg lettuce on a Village Baking Co. bun slathered with mayo.
What makes them so good? The patty’sthe right size for the bun. The beefis good. They’re well-seasoned, well-proportioned, well-dressed. The tomato is ripe, and it’s a large enough slice. The bacon — which most of them have — is cooked to not-quite-crisp.
My favorite may be the Green Chile and Bacon burger, a sloppy, delicious Dallas spin on the New Mexico classic, but smothered in melted Muenster and caramelized onions. I also loved the Double Delux — two patties, double cheese (American, natch; this is a Gruyère-free zone) and secret sauce (Heinz 57 plus ketchup and mayo).
I was less impressed with Do It Murph-Style, though I wanted to like it best because I love the name, a reference to the restaurant’s bulldog mascot. A signature burger, it was similar to Locals Only, but despite its secret sauce and roasted jalapeño-bacon relish, it wasn’t as flavorful. The Straight Up was my go-to burger at the original location; it’s the one for burger purists. But here it disappointed a little on two occasions: It just didn’t have the fabulous dose of umami it used to deliver. Oh, well.
The sandwiches were pretty terrific, though; I tasted five of 10 offered. There’s an excellent corned beef number, thick slabs of the terrific meat from Old World Provisions in upstate New York tucked into a long roll and loaded with cherry-pepper kraut and 57 Thousand slaw (a fine chop dressed in a mix of Heinz 57 sauce and Thousand Island dressing). Pork shoulder roast is a saucy affair involving barbecue onions, Carolina slaw and pickles on a burger bun. Turkey Master Tribute is genteel in comparison: thinly sliced smoked turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato and a honey-mustard sauce on griddled Village Baking Co. sourdough. Wrapping the griddled sourdough sandwiches tightly in happy red-and-white-checked paper, cutting them in half and tucking them jauntily, sliced-side-up, in their basket makes them all the more appealing.
The sides are basic and good: crisp, golden-brown medium-skinny fries, those two coleslaws (the Carolina one, mayo- and sugar-free, is vinegar-dressed). I didn’t get around to tasting the sloppy cheese fries.
The one dish that seriously disappointed was the Red Brick Chick salad, a mess of limp lettuce topped with flavor-free seared chicken strips, pico de gallo and shredded Cheddar cheese. The ranch dressing squiggled over the top did not save it.
For dessert, OSK keeps it short and sweet: tender, lattice-topped mini-pies — cherry, apple or pecan. If you’re not in the mood, grab a frozen candy bar from the cooler.
Drinks-wise, I kept wishing for a beer with more flavor than a Michelob to go with those good burgers. I get why a joint that sells frozen Snickers bars and Squirt might not go the craft-beer route, but I’d have settled for a Dos Equis. (The only craftish draft offering is Shiner Ruby Redbird, a summer-style lager flavored with grapefruit.) Lagers rule the roost here.
At least there’s refreshing consolation in the form of a trio of frozen cocktails: bourbon cherry Coke, Moscow Mule and margarita.
Legions of burger hounds are apparently holding their breath waiting for Shake Shack — the OMG-when-can-we-have-one New York-based chain — to open in Plano.
Me? I’m happy cooling my heels, Locals Only in hand, in Trinity Groves.
Off-Site Kitchen (3 stars)
Price: $ (burgers $4.50 to $8.99; sandwiches and other dishes $3.99 to $7.99; sides $2 to $5.99; desserts $1 to $2.95)
Service: Order at the counter, give your name and your food will be delivered to your table or spot at a counter.
Ambience: Biker chic roadhouse, with beer lights, photos of sports stars, a bank of TV screens, a shuffleboard table and a Pac-Man video game. A yellow-and-black Kawasaki 900 motorcycle stands guard near the door. Outside, a semicovered patio with bright blue Pabst Blue Ribbon umbrellas has bumper pool tables and arcade-style basketball hoops.
Noise level: Music blares from a radio, but not so loud it's impossible to converse.
Location: Trinity Groves, 331 Singleton Blvd., Dallas; 214-741-2226; oskdallas.com
Hours: Sunday-Monday 11 a.m to 7 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Reservations: Not accepted
Credit cards: D, MC, V
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Alcohol: Beer and frozen cocktails only
5 stars: Extraordinary
4 stars: Excellent
3 stars: Very good
2 stars: Good
1 star: Fair
No stars: Poor