Burger Time: Dry-aged Wagyu double cheeseburger at Dai Due
The grade: A
Three-word review: Will blow minds.
The setting: Dai Due’s morning and afternoon service has long felt more like a home cooked brunch at a friend’s South Texas ranch than a traditional lunch service. Chef Jesse Griffiths and crew serve the venison breakfast sausage with biscuits and gravy that made Dai Due a farmers market darling before the restaurant opened, along with dishes like brown rice topped with vegetables, kimchi and an egg; wild boar lettuce wraps; brioche French toast and more.
The menu features one of the world’s best pastrami sandwiches, but beyond that, the sandwich offerings have been slim. That has changed. The restaurant now serves a menu stuffed with offerings like a fried shrimp sandwich, a roast beef variety and the crown jewel, the double Wagyu cheeseburger. For years relegated to Tuesday-only status, the burger now appears on the daily menu.
The burger: Remember the first time your friend’s grill wizard dad made you a burger and you suffered some cognitive dissonance? This is the same food my parents make at home? Like, the same animal and everything? Well, yes and know. The meat is better, beefier. Here Wagyu. There’s not a single smashed patty or a fat Frankenburger squirting with juices, like Eddie Murphy joked about in “Raw.”
Dai Due makes their burger with two patties, allowing for a crunchy sear and even cooking while avoiding the onslaught of one cannonball of jaw-jacking meat. The cooks aren’t afraid of salt, seasoning the meat perfectly to coax and enhance its essence. Oh, your dad puts mustard and ketchup on a burger? How quaint. These folks blend mustard, mayonnaise (burgers are best with mayo), ketchup and some secret spice blend for a tangy blast that oozes across every inch of the burgers and laps up the sides of the shiny bun, pillowy at the top but chewy through the middle, helping keep the sloppiness from falling apart.
No American singles here. Dai Due uses nutty cheddar from Stryk Jersey Farm in Schulenburg, and it melts into the pools of the special sauce that spill from the sides, carrying brights bobs of white onions and emerald discs of pickles like wayward tubers. The buns also get a quick finish on the wood-fired grill, where sits the griddle on which the burgers are cooked, giving a char to the bread that helps interrupt the savory symphony. The only complaint? I couldn’t even finish it. But that’s on me. I wasn’t prepared.
Additionally: Order one of the restaurant’s housemade shrubs for a piquant tonic to all of the richness.
Fries with that: Knobby hunks of potato fried in beef tallow were more crust than meat, though I’ve long been a fan of the beet ketchup with which they were served.
Price: $20, reminding us that real good food costs real money.
Hours: Breakfast and lunch: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Dinner: 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
Locations and contact: 2406 Manor Road. 512–524–0688, daidue.com.
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2018 Austin360 Dining Guide: Dai Due (#13)
Statesman review from 2014: Dai Due’s mission and execution make it one of Austin’s best restaurants