Novemburger: Stack Burger Bar

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 10: Stack Burger Bar
208 W. Fourth St. 457-8225,
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Tuesday. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 11.10.11
UPDATE 04.06.12: The American-Statesman reports that Tre Dotson and Octavio Benavides have ended their affiliation with Stack (report here). Another partner in the venture, Yassine Enterprises, is part of an investigation into money laundering, drugs and firearms charges.
High Plains High Design is in full effect at Stack Burger Bar. Au currant shades of yellow, chocolate and cream cover square cushions on the backs of moss-green banquettes. The wall on one side is bare tan brick except for Jenga-style wooden art pieces and yellowed ranch photos of cattle and a long shadow box framed in laminated oak and fronted by silvery strands of barbed wire. The bar back is half-pipe chrome like a retro diner, up where you would have seen fish tanks when this space was Saba Blue Water Cafe before it became M2 for awhile. The staff’s personal styles run retro ranch, too, with familiar politeness in thrift-store pearl-snap shirts.
Barely a toddling two weeks old, Stack Burger Bar is another downtown port of entry for Tre Dotson, who also is a partner in Carlos Santana’s Maria Maria La Cantina. In the kitchen, Stack is guided by Octavio Benavides, whose résumé includes Maria Maria as well as the El Chile group and Louie’s 106.
The burger: With the modular design and the appearance of money that comes with it, I expected “Burger Bar” to be ironic, but irony usually carries a higher price tag than this. Burgers run $7-$11, in line with progressive burger places like Hopdoddy on South Congress. That’s good company, and Stack’s menu carries some of the same burger inspirations: a bison burger, an ahi tuna creation, a burger with turkey and others. But the Triple B Burger ($9.50) has no direct equal around town. The first thing you’ll taste and appreciate is a sweet bacon jam. It’s not just a spread,; it’s more like onion marmalade collided with a skillet full of country bacon. With pepperjack cheese, lightly fried onion strings and a thick blanket of arugula, this burger still lets the lean, dense ground beef come through. It’s finished with a brioche-style bun with the same sweetness as honeyed toast.
Fries or rings? For $1, Stack will add a handful of shoestring fries with your burger, or you can add small or large orders for $2-$6. I like the crisp garlic-herb fries, so fully realized they’ll “freshen” your breath for the full night to come. Stack also does them with truffle oil, and sweet-potato fries round out the starch options. Onions are represented by fried “petals,” cut vertically like they were plucked petal by petal from one of those blooming onions. These are fried tempura-style, with thin-shelled buttermilk batter and a spicy Russian-style sauce.
The Lebowski Factor: How do you make a White Russian that really pulls the room together? Make it a $5 milkshake with crumbled graham crackers, chocolate and a torched marshmallow. It’s an immediate contender for the crown held by the roasted banana shake at 24 Diner. This one makes you happier by a factor of Kahlua and vodka.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)