The Dart Bowl Steakhouse is one of the great old timey diners in Austin, Texas. When our daily affairs carried us to the Brentwood neighborhood last week we dashed in and had a refresher course on why we love this old bowling alley/cafe.
There's a good little crowd of day bowlers pounding beers and hollering as we make our way inside the room. Pre and post Vietnam war-era veterans are scattered about as is the custom of bowling alleys all over the USA.
The crowd is rough and tumble as befits the little time worn burger joint that squats down in one corner of the old room.
I ask for a burger with an enchilada as a garnish and the counter lady looks at me like I'm crazy.
"We don't do that" she replies, wide eyed.
"Just ask the cook for me, I'll bet she'd be happy to."
"No, I've already asked her too much to day and she might get mad."
I see my dream of an enchilada crowned hamburger slowly evaporating as I envision a harried short order cook rounding on me with a spatula "YOU WANT WHAT?"
Dart Bowl is one of the few places in Austin that uses honest potatoes for french fries. As in, they get boxes of potatoes and cut them into batons then fry them creating a dish far superior to what comes out of an 18 wheeled freezer truck.
The patty has been shaped by hand and cooked on a worn griddle, it's garnished the right way too. No post modern toppings that have gripped America's burger scene these past few years. Just the classic mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes.
I peek my head in the kitchen for a moment to brag on the cook. Peggy has been on the range 6 days a week since she started as a teen back in the early 70s. I tease her about calling in sick and she states that she's missed 2 shifts since the Nixon administration.
Back a couple years ago the website Chow came to town and wanted some advice as to where to film a video series they were shooting. I didn't have to think long. I sent them to Dart Bowl and El Taco Rico . If you dig around a little on the internet you can find the videos.
more from the "best hamburger" series http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/index.cfm/Best-Hamb