Of all of the viable burger options in Dallas, two of the greatest hits are the product of one man alone. The classic cheeseburger at The Grape, and the Uncle Herky at Luscher’s Red Hots are Chef Brian Luscher’s patty-shaped gifts to the city.
At first blush, both are simple cheeseburgers that adorn the menus of two vastly different restaurants. Aside from their creator, the only similarities are that all of the ingredients are made in-house, and it’s the subtlety of those ingredients that makes each burger an experience to behold.
"When we were in the menu developement stage for Luscher's Red Hots, I knew I wanted to have a burger on the menu," Luscher says. "For about a minute, I thought The Grape burger could be a great idea, but there were so many strikes against it in a fast-casual environment: intense amount of prep, a long cook time, high price point, among other traits negated it as a candidate for the Luscher's burger offering. I knew I wanted it to be easy to prepare and fast to cook and easily managed by a non-fine dining kitchen crew."
The differences between the two offerings, however, are more easily quantified. Things like price point, location, and availability immediately stand out, not to mention the difference components used to make each burger. Though with similar points of origin, the two burgers can be thought of more like siblings, rather than separate entities.
"The Uncle Herky burger is the younger brother that gets away with murder," Luscher says. "The parents helicoptered the first kid, then realized the second kid wasn't going to get hurt, and the big brother is jealous of that because of all the BS he had to go through."
To better compare and contrast the two options, we stopped by The Grape and Luscher’s to get an in depth look at how each burger was prepared. Eater photographer Kathy Tran was on hand to capture these moments.
The Uncle Herky, Luscher's Red Hots
- Upon receiving the order, two Texas Wagyu patties placed on the grill and salted, then cooked to about medium or medium rare.
- One slice of bread receives a treatment of fresh mayo, while the over is slathered in a zesty yellow mustard.
- Two slices of American cheese are placed on each patty. The burgers are then stacked, and topped with a helping of grilled onions.
- And voila. Add bacon, lettuce, and tomato, if you please.
Sometimes you're feeling a little fancier, though. Maybe you want frites instead of fries. Which is where The Grape comes in. In 2009, Texas Monthly declared The Grape's Classic Cheeseburger the best in Texas, and pretty much no one who's ever tried it is willing to argue with that. The burger at The Grape is decidedly more upscale and more exclusive – in that it's only available for Sunday brunch, which means you can only satisfy this craving once a week.
Classic Cheeseburger, The Grape
- A 10-oz ground beef patty is cooked to customer’s specifications. In this case, perfectly pink.
- On a plate, hydro bib lettuce, red onion, and tomatoes topped with salt and pepper are set to the side. Horseradish pickles are then added to the vegetable party.
- Vermont white cheddar is melted on top of the patty, then housemade peppered bacon is added.
- A pain au lait bun is toasted with maître d'hôtel butter, before being coated with a housemade dijonaise. The burger set up is then placed on the bun.
- Herb and garlic-salted frites are added to the plate.
- The finished product is (arguably) Texas' finest burger.