When you talk about great burger joints in Fort Worth, sooner or later Tommy’s Hamburgers is bound to come up. It may not precede Charley’s or Dutch’s or Fred’s or Rodeo Goat, but over the course of 30 years, Tommy’s has certainly found a niche for its half-pound burgers and cheese-drenched fries, in the process outliving innumerable other burger spots that have come and gone.
But the mini-chain, originally opened by Tommy and Glenda Smith and now run by their daughter Kelly, has definitely been in need of a reboot. One finally came two months ago in the form of a new location, inside a strip mall near Ridgmar Mall, in the pin-dot of a space most recently occupied by Dagwood’s Grinders & Growlers.
It’s not far from where an earlier incarnation of the chain once stood, in a nearby gas station. Kelly repurposed some of its design elements for the new spot, including the original sign.
With the new location comes a new menu, which also has rolled out at Tommy’s two other stores, on Camp Bowie Boulevard and Forest Park Boulevard, and a new name exclusive to this location: Tommy’s Burgers & Brews. Not a bad move, considering that what you drink these days, in the eyes of many, is nearly as important as what you eat; there are a half-dozen craft and/or local beers on tap, plus wine on tap.
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The revamped menu is slimmer, zeroing in mostly on burgers and sides. But if you must look elsewhere, you’ll see chicken sandwiches, a catfish po’boy and a handful of salads, the last of which you can have topped with a meat or veggie patty.
As Tommy’s diners have done for three decades, most pile in for the burgers, of which there are a dozen varieties, including some new additions.
Among them is the Blue Angel ($10.59), a heavy, hefty burger topped with bacon and crumbles of blue cheese. Just about every element was perfect: Onions, leafy lettuce and crinkle pickles were fresh, juicy and crisp; two planks of bacon were nicely cooked; and the firm, plain white buns, slathered in yellow mustard, kept everything together tidily. Tomato slices looked a little pale, however, as if they weren’t quite ripe.
Equally impressive was the bacon and Brie burger ($10.59), topped with the same veggies, along with bacon and Brie cheese, a one-two punch of rich and salty flavors.
On both burgers, the patties were just a shade overcooked beyond our medium-rare request, but they maintained plenty of juice and rich, beefy flavor. They were both scarred with smoky sears, a sign of a cook with a good wrist.
For non-beef eaters, there’s also a turkey burger and a veggie burger, whose commercial patty is made of grains and assorted veggies.
Burgers come with crinkle-cut fries, which can be hit or miss. On one occasion, they were nearly perfect, firm on the outside, hot and soft on the inside, and nicely salted. On another visit, they were a little too cool and limp.
Tater Tots may be a better option. Ours were cooked to the point of almost being burned, which gave them a wonderfully crisp texture; soggy tots are the worst.
A rotation of pies and cakes is available for dessert. We would have thought more of the super-rich chocolate cake ($3), made in-house, had it not been served to us wrapped in cellophane.
While Tommy’s is definitely moving forward in some directions, it’s not in others. An enormous amount of paper products are used: Burgers were delivered in paper boats lined with tissue paper, and the burgers themselves were wrapped in additional paper tissue. It’s a tremendous amount of waste; this could use a revamp, too.
Tommy’s Burgers and Brews
1736 Mall Circle
Hours: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Mon-Sat; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun