100 Austin burgers: Dart Bowl Cafe
Dart Bowl Cafe
Hours: 9am-9:30pm Mon-Thu; 9am-10pm Fri-Sat; 9am-8pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 11.03.16
I bowled in leagues as a kid. So did my parents and their parents before them. Rolled a 179 average at 12 years old. What I remember most — besides BBQ Fritos — is the drumroll of the ball and the skeleton rattle of pins. Lunch at the Dart Bowl Cafe comes with that bowling alley music for free. If I were leaving Austin tomorrow, cheezy greezy Dart Bowl enchiladas with homemade toast would be one of my last three meals in town. But this is a hamburger series, and in the spirit of Lebowski’s Grill over at Highland Lanes, I’ll make room for a burger that stays in its lane and rolls a pretty solid average.
► Double Meat Cheeseburger: This is a real sit-down cafe, with booths upholstered like bowling bags from the ‘60s and a staff that dishes out the affable abuse only the best waiters can pull off (“Ketchup ... on eggs?”). That makes it all the more remarkable that a double cheeseburger with fries clocks in at just $6.50. What that buys is a pair of foodservice flat patties salted and peppered on the flat-top, cloaked in sticky American cheese on a bed of chopped iceberg, sliced tomatoes, white onions and pickle chips on a toasted picnic bun. It’s half-wrapped in tight wax paper soaked through with Thousand Island, if you’re doing it right.
► On the side: Just like the homemade toast and chili on its iconic enchiladas, the fries at Dart Bowl are cut by hand. They could use more time in the spotless fryer oil, and salting them is entirely your job, but the fresh, skin-on character is a pleasant surprise in a place like this.
► Wash it down: I go right to the misspent beers of my youth at Dart Bowl, but if a cold Miller Genuine Draft for $3 isn’t for you, they have bottles and cans as diverse as Austin Beerworks Fire Eagle, Live Oak Hefe and Firemans #4 for 75 cents more. The Old Style, Schmidt and Schaefer cans on the wall? Sadly, those are just for show.