2 All-Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions on a…Poppy Seed Bun?
Anyone living in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area will tell you that we have no shortage of burger joints around town. In fact, I have already featured one of my favorites, Twisted Root, on here a few months ago; and I think it has been one of Adam’s missions while living here to try them all and discover which is the best. Also, I pride myself on staying abreast of new “hot spots’” that pop up as well as researching tried and true favorites by reading various publications, watching TV, or hearing about them through others. That being said, we have tried a lot of the options, some being just average while others are out of this world good! This next restaurant is the latter on both accounts.
In 2006, GQ magazine put out an article by Alan Richman (one of the most decorated food writers in history) compiling a list of the “20 Burgers You Must Eat Before You Die.” From the time I read the article and saw Oprah create a segment on her show about it, I was intrigued. In fact, I remember printing off the list and thinking I need to try all of them! However, it wasn’t until we moved to Dallas and really got interested in starting this blog that I began thinking about that list again. I thought, “you know…I bet a fair amount of these places are pretty notorious in their cities, thus making them definitely a blog worthy visit;” And it just so happened that one of the burgers, number 10 to be exact, was a Dallas favorite and kept being suggested by a couple of friends of ours (thanks for the great recommendation Robert and Holly!). I’m referring, of course, to the famous Keller’s Drive-In.
Upon realizing Keller’s was on the “20 Burgers” list, I knew that a trip there was in order. So one day after church, Adam and I ventured over to Northwest Highway to try their infamous burgers, including the famous “No. 5” which has a bit of a back story I’ll explain later. We both really enjoyed it, and I knew after completing my half marathon in March that I wanted my celebratory burger, fries, and shake to come from there! (and it just so happened that we saw Keller’s featured on an old episode of The Food Network’s “The Secret Life of…” right after our first visit).
Keller’s was built in the 1950’s to be a standard drive-in, and to be honest, it appears as though not much as changed in 60 years! Still, that is what gives it so much appeal…you truly feel as if you stepped back in time when you drive up…
It may not look like much, but it certainly invokes a feeling of nostalgia and a no-nonsense good food environment. When you drive up and find an open spot, one of the waitresses comes out to take your order, just like the old drive-in’s…no speaker box here! They also, like the historic food landmark they represent, are the no-nonsense type…nice, but definitely not out there to impress or be your best friend. Many of the servers have been there for years and they KNOW their burgers are good, so they don’t really have time for hemming and hawing with you. Also, the menu is not large, which is good, because really you are only there for one thing…a burger!; and many specifically for their landmark “No. 5” special…
Here is where it gets interesting. The story goes that Keller’s “No. 5” special is actually the original ‘Big Mac’ and that McDonald’s got the idea for the now famous sandwich from here. I’m not saying this is true or not, but Keller’s “No. 5” special is 2 all beef patties, “special” sauce of thousand island dressing, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, and tomato on a poppy seed bun. I don’t know…other than the sesame seed/poppy seed difference, it’s pretty close, but you make the call? What is so interesting, is that while anyone could have imitated the ‘Big Mac’ and said they were the first, Keller’s created this burger a good 20 years before McDonalds even developed the Big Mac. So, like I said…you be the judge.
I’m the first to admit that I’m no ‘Big Mac’ connoisseur, and to be honest I never tried one until I was 25! (shocking I know). So I left the No. 5 up to Adam to give a full on taste test, while I stuck with a standard cheeseburger with grilled onions (ummm-ummm….love me some grilled onions!), fries, and strawberry shake (yes, I am 12 years old and dip my fries in it haha ).
*Our friends Chad and Christina were also there to celebrate as Christina completed the race too and we deserved a greasy meal after our months of preparation!
Yeah…those burgers didn’t stand a chance! What makes them so good is not necessary the meat itself, but rather the combination of the ingredients. The poppy seed bun adds a unique flavor and is grilled just right to give it a softness and crunch. The patty, although slightly overcooked, is masked when paired with the creamy cheese that just oozes out with each and every bite…pure cheesy goodness at its finest. And with my addition of grilled onions, there is a creamy sweetness that comes out that just makes every bite enjoyable. Adam said that the No. 5 tastes exactly like a Big Mac, except it isn’t bogged down with the extra middle bun and the poppy seeds create a unique taste he preferred. He said it was a cleaner, simpler version of the fast food classic (and He IS a Big Mac expert! )
So down to the review…
SIGNATURE DISH – Burgers for sure, but the famous “No. 5” special is their claim to fame!
TASTE – The taste I would have to say is truly an experience. I said that the burger patty itself is a tad overcooked and doesn’t have much flavor. But, that is not what makes this sandwich. It is literally every component together that makes the burger as good as it is; and the cheese alone oozing out is what won me over for sure! I do have to say that their fries are nothing spectacular, which is kind of disappointing, because you always want a good burger to be accompanied by good fries. Lastly, their shakes were delicious (very creamy) and I would order one every time I go. So although it isn’t the best burger in fries I’ve ever had, I still recommend it. (half a ‘Little Piggy’)
AMBIANCE – As I mentioned before, what makes the experience so fun at Keller’s is its old school drive-in ambiance. There are always tons of cars, bikers, and people just hanging out for the afternoon. You can even order beer off of their menu, so people will literally just park and hang out all day. It isn’t necessarily pretty to look at, but to me that is the whole appeal of the place. I mean…who really wants to eat a messy burger at some stuffy upscale restaurant? When you want a burger, the burger is all that really matters!
SERVICE – Their service is pretty standard, although both times we’ve been there they’ve forgotten Adam’s drink. These women are experienced car hop waitresses and they don’t mess around! But they will get you your order quick, which is all I want sometimes! (half a ‘Little Piggy’)
PRICE – Price alone makes this place totally worth the trip! At only $2.69 for the “No. 5” and all the other burgers coming in under or around that, your whole meal will typically cost you 5 bucks or less. That’s hard to beat! Be aware though…they are cash only, so make sure you have at least $10 in your pocket.
So I leave you all now with my mouth watering and giving Keller’s a raving 4 Little Piggies!