Novemburger: Opal Divine's Freehouse

Because 50 Burgers, 50 Days wasn’t enough, I’ll write about a new burger every day this month. And next. We’ll call that Decemburger.
Day 30: Opal Divine’s Freehouse
700 W. Sixth St. 477-3308,
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Tuesday. 11 a.m. to midnight Wednesday-Thursday. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday. 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday. 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. Kitchen closes about an hour earlier each night.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.30.11
The burger: The Urban Bubba ($9.95) is like a soda-fountain suicide: Gorgonzola, chipotle mayo, jalapeños, grilled onions, wing sauce. It’s either going to go completely wrong or completely right. But it seems suited to Opal’s twin missions of booze and food, because you can’t have this burger without something to wash down the sting. On Wednesdays, a pint of Texas beer is just $2.50, and Live Oak Pilz is just dry and tough enough to handle the wildest Bubba. On weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m., chase that beer with a margarita on the rocks for $3. There’s a reason margaritas cost more than $3. Even so, this one has a little tequila roast and more than a little lime to back up its sweet mass appeal.
You can almost hear the Bubba breathing when it hits the table, a fury of dragon’s breath and jalapeño smolder. To pick it up is to risk its runny orange wrath, and it will laugh at your puny napkin. Between the wing sauce and peppers, this could be a sensory assassin, but somehow the grill-smoked saltiness of the beef and the sweetness of the onions pull through, and the gorgonzola self-confidently announces itself as blue cheese’s dreadlocked cousin. Clearly, these guys are used to the heat, survivors of our hottest summer. It’s the wing sauce and jalapeños that should be afraid. Them and your white shirt and your belly, which will cry out for another Texas draft.
Fries or rings? I’m starting to get paranoid about how many places are ignoring the mighty onion ring. But mac and cheese comes to the rescue in almost as many cases, and at Opal’s another side is just $1.95 to augment the cracked-pepper fries you already get with the Urban Bubba. Opal’s mac has more in common with Kraft white mac, so the pressure’s on the fries to deliver, and they come across with something like a thin veneer of batter that stays crunchy even as it cools, The black pepper is more for show than flavor, something that hardly matters against the Bubba’s searing onslaught.
Whisky Festival: From 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 1), the Opal Divine’s at Penn Field (3601 S. Congress Ave.) will host a Whisky Festival, with more than 50 Scottish and British whiskies and hors d’oeuvres. $45 at the door, $40 online here
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
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