50 Burgers, 50 Days: Dirty's

A burger a day all around Austin, plus an answer
to the pressing question: fries or rings?
Day 2: Dirty's
Also known as Dirty Martin's Kum-Bak Place.
2808 Guadalupe St. 477-3173, www.dirtymartins.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
By Mike Sutter / Fed Man Walking / 08.12.11
The burger: Large D.H. Special ($6.25). A faded plastic menu board above the front door suggests just how long the pace has been here. Since 1926, so the story goes. Martin's Kum-Bak Place, then and now affectionately called Dirty's.
It's not, by the way. Dirty, that is. But you won't walk away feeling clean after this much grease and cheese. Your hands will remind you how the D.H. practically melts in your hands, dripping with plain orange American cheese and shiny cascades of chopped grilled onions. The large D.H. is a double patty melt, of sorts, named for a customer who liked it this way, on Texas toast with pickles and tomato.
Dirty's is an old-school place with a counter running the length of the grill area and hard booths the color of faded tangerines. The back room has a vintage Pac-Man machine. The white wood siding on the outside has the weathered look of a movie set. On the radio, a '70s station played all through lunch, and I realized how much more interesting pop radio used to be. Not better, necessarily. Just more fractured, like when you could hear "Disco Inferno" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" in the same hour.
Fries or rings? The fries ($2.50) looked and tasted worn out, like laces from a well-worn workboot. Onion rings ($2.75) barely held together, like live opalescent snakes in tawny curls of wood shavings. So I'm going with Longhorn chips ($3) on this one, a basket of thick-cut potato chips fried to order with a sturdy kerrrunch and a proper Austin shade of burnt orange. They played salty sidecar to a schooner with the full heft (but only half the comic potential) of a Shake Weight, full of Austin Amber from Independence Brewing ($4/ $3 after 3 p.m.).
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
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