The grade: 7.5/10
Three-word review: Must love queso.
The setting: A sleek, modern hotel from a nationally renowned hospitality group takes over a long-standing eyesore on prime real estate overlooking Lady Bird Lake. You might expect them to pander to Texas tastes and lean into regional aesthetic tropes. You won’t find those at the quirky burger and snack bar on the ground floor corner of The Line hotel.
The Sydell Group named the casual lunch, dinner (most days) and happy hour spot after nightclub host Don Dean, who curated eccentric musical programming at Club Seville at the Crest Inn, which is now the Line. And the restaurant and bar has a flare for the eccentric, serving crab Rangoon, Mexican shrimp cocktail and more in wood, wicker and leather banquet-lined rooms dotted with Polynesian design elements that evoke ideas of tiki drinks and hip-swirling dancers. It’s hard to tell if you’ve landed on the Sunset Strip in the '60s or a very special episode of “The Brady Bunch” in Hawaii.
The burger: Two patties weighing in at about a quarter-pound hang over the edges of a sweet Hawaiian bun (on brand) like a stoner’s limbs dangling from the couch. Dean’s forgoes the ubiquitous retro slices of American cheese found on griddled burgers in recent years for timeless queso, the mellow cheese dip oozing across the patties and dipping down the bottom half of bun, which it soaks in no time. The thin patties, which admirably retain a slight brush of red, are all Creekstone Farms beefiness with just the right touch of salt. Two pickle rounds attempt to assert their twang, but the queso drowns out both them and a mostly-for-show slice of robust but silent tomato. There’s apparently a charred onion mayonnaise, but the only thing I found resembling that description was the blackened, Sterno-tasting inside of the bottom bun. Some fresh white onions could have added a little more dimension.
Additionally: You can supplement with sweet onions ($2), crispy egg ($2) and Tender Belly bacon ($3).
Fries with that: Plumped fries the size of sunflower-colored, jumbo crayons are crunchy, fleshy and dusted with seasoning powder. Dip them in the thick but zippy aioli fry sauce for a lush glow. Or add one of several dipping sauces (25 cents) that come with other dishes at Dean’s. I’m partial to the buttermilky ranch over the cloying, aggressive other sauces. If you want a lighter option, you can choose a refreshing blend of cool, herb-flecked white bean, black bean and corn salad.
Price: $14 for Dean’s Double with fries and a soda; $9 for a Dean’s Double, $7 for a single Pony Boy.
Details: Order at the register or pull up a stool at the bar.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Location and contact: 111 E. Cesar Chavez St., 512-478-9611, thelinehotel.com/austin