Before the game, chow down at Dutch’s

Dining blind at away football games is often a hit-or-miss venture. This Saturday, you should visit 3009 S. University Drive by the Texas Christian University campus and sample a little joint called Dutch’s Hamburgers. While many businesses along TCU’s “drag” may have come and gone, Dutch’s is likely to stay for decades.

Less than two miles from the PGA Tour’s oldest non-major tournament site sits the TCU campus. University Drive, which splits the school’s buildings, was for decades the campus’ eastern boundary, with undeveloped land on the other side. In recent decades, the east side of University Drive was developed as the “drag,” the popular place for students without cars to spend a weekend shopping and eating.

Dutch’s Hamburgers opened in 2007 across from the Bailey Building, TCU’s former bible college building. Its prime location, coupled with all-around excellent food, have made Dutch’s among the most popular college food locales in Fort Worth. When I visited Dutch’s on Aug. 28, I was treated to a menu mosaic. Although I personally ordered only the Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger, I got to sample the Dutch Burger, Honey BBQ & Bacon Burger, Frito Pie, Country Cobb Salad, and Crispy Chicken Salad.

From the first bite, I noticed the burger was a good size and juicy; with minimal spices, the beef’s natural flavor shone through. And in Cowtown, U.S.A., only the best beef is worthy of such praise. Yet that was not the burger’s most praiseworthy feature. The thick-cut bacon, buttery and grilled, would be the envy of Oscar Meyer. Yet that was not the best part of the burger. The bleu cheese was slightly sweet, and not too crumbly, lacking the pungency that dissuades many Americans from enjoying the moldy curds; the onions were grilled to mild sweetness, but still had their sharp bite; chipotle mayo, shredded lettuce, and sliced tomatoes cleared the pallet. Yet these, too, were not focal points.

In every bite, I noticed the buns were dense and sweet, akin to hawaiian sweet bread. The sugary sweetness was both the first flavor to reach your taste buds and the last to leave. Furthermore, the density ensured that most customers could fain walk away from their baskets without packed stomachs. Eventually, however, I did reach the end of my burger, and turned to the neglected fries. The french fries themselves were enjoyable; they appeared fresh-cut and were low in grease. Large-crystal salt seasoned the fries; though the side was enjoyable, it was not exceptionally special. Similarly, the onion rings were good and not great, though it was enjoyable to have an original-recipe batter.

The other burgers were similarly spectacular, owing mostly to the unique buns and high-quality ground beef. The salads were very good, but certainly not noteworthy. The Frito Pie was surprisingly delicious; I was initially skeptical of the bowl of mixed nacho cheese and pico de gallo, but my tongue overruled my mind after the first bite.

My only complaint about the restaurant: there were way too many purple T-shirts. Unfortunately, I doubt that’ll change any time soon.

– Jonathan

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