This past Wednesday one of the most popular bands of the ’80s, Van Halen, was performing at the American Airlines Center. So it was pretty weird to see him eating a burger around six o’ clock that evening at Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House.
Okay. It probably wasn’t him. But it looked somewhat like him and there’s a possibility that at one point he asked his dinner companions, “Hey man, I wonder what the waitress is gonna look like this year.” What made it even weirder was that Van Halen playing on the restaurant’s speakers. So as far as first impressions go, Goodfriend was making an incredible one. DLR doppelgängers and early Van Halen are good ways to get people, some very strange people, to return to your establishment.
Located in East Dallas next to Good To Go Taco (the tacos are ridiculously good, in case you cared), GoodFriend is a gem. The place is jammed full of hipsters all sitting outside, admiring the DLR lookalikes, and sipping on their fancy microbrews that most people have never heard of. The outside seating area is also quite the marvel. Lined with plants, misters and extra large fans, even in the ninety-degree heat everyone manages to stay relatively cool.
Goodfriend offers a large array of fantastic looking gourmet burgers and every one has a companion beer that you can order along with it. After some debate and some quizzing of the waitress, she basically demanded the Pepper Bomb be eaten. She made the right call. The burger was over-the-top spicy, but nonetheless delicious.
The Pepper Bomb is a beef burger served with spicy house harissa, roasted tomatoes, lettuce and chipotle cheddar. This burger is crazy hot, like dump-a bottle-of-sriracha-in-your-mouth-hole hot. The first bite is shocking, first because of the fieriness, and second because all the roasted tomatoes fall immediately out of the back. But once your mouth numbs a little bit, the burger is beyond enjoyable. The beef is grass-fed and custom blended and ground just for the restaurant – this is some high-quality meat. It’s moist and slightly pink, but any subtle flavor the beef has is masked by the generous amount of harissa sauce. What is harissa? The google machine says it’s a hot chili sauce. Hot, indeed. The sauce invades every crevice of the burger. It’s not a bad thing, especially if you like spicy food. Just know that the next couple of meals you eat are going to be very bland.
Teaming up with the harissa is a large slice of chipotle cheddar. Even the cheddar looks terrifying. Red veins runs all throughout it, like some sort of steroid-abusing freak show. Once again, you can’t really tell if the cheese adds to the burger because the spice kind of knocks it out.
Let’s reiterate, the harissa sauce and the burger itself are delicious. Every bite after the first is an absolute treat. But in reality all you can really taste is the harissa sauce. The only respite from the sauce is the bun. Buttered and toasted, it has a slightly sweet taste and soaks up a small bit of the heat from the sauce.
All in all GoodFriend is a great place to visit. The outside atmosphere is terrific and surprisingly cool. Aged rock stars may or may not go there. They play great tunes. At least they do if you like cheesy ’70s and ’80s guitar rock (is that a thing?). And most importantly, the burgers are good, especially if you like your burger spicy.