A few months ago, Texans and California expats prepared for the arrival of a new burger joint in Fort Worth — the first Texas outpost of cult favorite In-N-Out. There were lines, there were tears, and there were converts to the West Coast-based burger chain. But it's not like Fort Worth didn't have its own local burger standouts. Among them, Chef Tim Love's three Love Shack locations, one in the Fort Worth Stockyards, one at Trinity Park, and the last in Denton East of the Square.
For anyone unacquainted with Tim Love, he's the bigger-than-life, straight-shooting, game-cooking, festival-circuit chef whose demos you don't want to miss — the ones where he'll do tequila shots with the crowd when it's barely past lunch. Love has done high-dining, but the Love Shacks are places where he can exhibit playfulness.
Normally, when a chef or a menu notes "love" as an ingredient, the most appropriate response is either an eyeroll, or to walk out. If the person making your food claims there's "love" in your food they're either being phony, or they've done something with the food that they should get sued for. Given the chef's last name, you have to allow Love Shack an exception to this rule. And they take full advantage. The menu is full of jokes and puns: the Dirty Love burger, the "Amore Caliente" (hot love) burger, the section called, "Love on the Side." But there's serious flavor too.
For an overall sense of the burgers you can order sliders. But there's nothing like a full burger. The way to go is the Dirty Love Burger — lettuce, tomato, pickles, "Love Sauce," American cheese, bacon, and fried quail egg. The patty is on a fresh bun with an excellent cheese-to-meat ratio. The perfect burger? No. Needs more sauce, a touch more seasoning, and it could stand to be juicier. But these are the finer points of burger debate. You're still going to want to go back for bite after bite.
As good a sandwich as the Dirty Love Burger is, the truth is that Love Shack's two best items are the green pork chili (left, as topping on the "Heated Dog") and the nachos. They're both addictive. If you're looking to hit as many items as possible, taste the chili on the "Heated" dog: Lonesome Dove pork green chili with shredded Cheddar and onion. On the dog it's featured with a healthy amount of Cheddar. But eating it this way starts to make you feel as though you're not doing it justice. This is spoon-after-spoon chili. Eating it on its own will make you very happy. It's zesty and wet, with a fine grind.
Fresh chips, smoked Cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, pico de gallo, guacamole, jalapeños, shredded Asiago, and seasoned ground tenderloin.
OK, seriously, if it hasn't been done, someone needs to write a treatise on nachos (please write in with one if you know of it), the ideal ratios of ingredients. In this neck of the woods, the best nachos are those with as much, or more toppings as chips. At Love Shack they've got this figured out. The chips are crisp and fresh, and there's an even, gooey, coating of cheese. It almost seems as though they layer it on the bottom before putting the chip layer. You're not going to get into a situation here where you reach the bottom and there's no cheese. And how often can you say that? There's shredded lettuce, and guac, fresh and spicy jalapeños — these are nachos to contend with.