By Clare Myers
As a Midwest girl, I am always amazed at how vast Dallas is. The metroplex is an enormous, sprawling hub of activity, and I have always been struck by the sheer variety of it all. It took me a few months to understand the distinctive character of the different neighborhoods. A night out in Addison, for example, is quite a different experience from a night out downtown.
In general, I prefer the more low-key vibes of Lower Greenville or the Bishop Arts District to the flashiness of uptown. So when a friend suggested we go to Village Burger Bar on McKinney Avenue for an early dinner Friday night, I was skeptical. The parking situation lowered my expectations even further, as we made tedious circles in a garage stuffed to the gills with Porches, Lexuses and gaggles of young professionals in tailored suits and sky-high heels.
But when we walked into Village Burger Bar, I instantly noticed the mood change. The small restaurant was about as casual as uptown gets on a Friday night, busy but relaxed. We placed our orders at the counter with the friendly bartenders and took our numbers to find a table. Threading our way through the place, it seemed like everyone there, like us, was enjoying a (relatively) laidback dinner and getting ready for the night ahead.
Taking advantage of the cool weather, we snagged a table on the patio and sipped on margaritas ($3.25 on Fridays before 9 p.m.) while we waited for our food. It arrived fairly quickly, despite the dinner rush.
Village Burger Bar’s menu is simple, with a short list of burgers, paninis and salads, along with the option to build your own burger. It also offers a small number of sides and desserts.
One friend ordered the “Champagne & Cheddar Burger,” which includes cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, dill pickles and champagne mustard ($6.50). Another ordered the “Swiss ‘Shroom Burger” with Swiss, spinach, sautéed mushrooms, onions and artichoke aioli ($6.50).
I chose to make my own burger, adding pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach to a beef burger on a wheat bun ($5.75). I went the classic route, but customers can add toppings such as dried cranberries or fire-roasted chilies free of charge and cheeses like feta or goat for an extra $0.75. I chose spicy brown mustard, but Village Burger Bar offers a variety of sauces from garlic aioli to basil mayo. My burger was passably tasty, with nothing to write home about in terms of flavor. Compared to similar burger joints such as Twisted Root, it was a bit of a disappointment. The bun, surprisingly, was the only remarkable part of it, since good wheat buns are a rare find. My friends had similar reactions to their burgers.
A few friends ordered sides of fries, which come in both shoestring and sweet potato form ($1.75 for a small, $3.50 for a large order). Again, they were nothing special, although the sweet potato fries were definitely more flavorful than the shoestring.
Despite the admittedly average food, I liked Village Burger Bar. A decent burger, a good margarita special, a thoroughly enjoyable atmosphere and great friends — who can complain?