He came home from work last week with a handwritten map scrawled on piece of scrap paper. “We’ve got a new restaurant to try next time we’re in Arlington,” he told me, looking pretty pleased with himself. Truth is, he loves discovering new, out of the way, eateries as much as I do.
“What kind of place?” I asked.
I was quiet. Unless they’re homemade, I prefer a different type of meal. His one word answer conjured up thoughts of mass produced, cookie cutter fare on a sesame seed bun kind of meal. The recommendation had come from a co-worker he tells me, noting my silence. Apparently, the two of them had be exchanging photos during a break at the factory, and after my guy had shared his Canadian vacation pictures, the other man shared some photographs he’d taken for the menu of his sister’s mom and pop restaurant. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, it had been enough to lead to a hastily hand drawn map.
The opportunity to check the place out came sooner, rather than later, as Saturday night had us making our way through Game Day traffic on I-30 to attend the Arlington Music Hall Rock ‘n’ Roll Revue show. We’d left a little earlier so we could try out Serrano’s Burgers first, before attending the show.
We had been warned that it was a small place, easily missed if you aren’t looking and sure enough, as our GPS announced that we’d arrived, a quick look around from left to right had us scratching our heads and doubling back to take a closer look. We finally found the location, in the center of a small strip mall, cozily tucked away between a Hispanic Pentecostal Church and Jackson’s Groceries.
I’ve eaten out enough to know that one should never judge a restaurant by its exterior, so we were undaunted by the nondescript facade that greeted us. Inside, the venue was indeed as tiny as promised. “So small you’d have to go outside to change your mind” is the phrase that is most apt. The decor was pleasant, despite the size, with eye pleasing colors and wall coverings, that let you know this was not your typical fast food restaurant. There were four tables with ladder back chairs on one side of the small room, and an ordering counter on the back wall that displayed a large colorful menu sign overhead. A flat screen television set tuned into the customary sports network channel hung on an opposite wall. There were only two other groups dining when we entered, so we were in luck as far as finding a place to eat.
We approached the counter. For those of you who have been served by people who are irritated that they’ve had to leave an intense text conversation in order to do their job, you’ll know just what I mean when I tell you how pleased we were to be served by a very hospitable young man, who patiently waited while we decided what to order.
The pictures on the menu board were indeed as mouth watering as I’d been told. Serranos serves meals all day long from breakfast tacos, to a lighter lunch menu that includes street tacos (pork, steak or lengua (tongue)) and tortas, as well as a selection of burgers. The house burger is the Serrano Burger, which included both serrano and jalapeno peppers.
“Are Serrano peppers hot?” I asked, my green Northern upbringing shining brightly for all to see.
A man sitting at the table directly behind where we stood, injected with one word “Hot!” Judging by his obvious southern drawl and wide opened eyes as he uttered the single word, I quickly concluded that the house burger was best left for the more daring. We both settled for the Bacon Cheeseburgers for a very reasonable $6.50 each, that included fries and sat at a table.
The friendly man behind the counter, soon brought out or drinks, which earned further bonus points with me. This was definitely not a McBurger place. He reappeared again shortly after that, with the order for another table, and took the time to come and tell us that our meal would be right up. He was right.
Now — just because the service was fast, let me promise you this was far from assembly line fast food fare. The meat is apparently not frozen which explains the quick turnaround time from order to table.
The burgers are handmade and the bacon is real. The over-sized buns were grilled and the produce used for the toppings was crisp and fresh. The serving sizes are more than ample for an evening meal. This was no sissy burger, but rather, an honest to goodness, two handed masterpiece that had me sighing contentedly after one bite. The fries were seasoned, and definitely not greasy. This was a five star burger served in a down home, mom and pop establishment, that I hope will be around for years to come.
After dropping just a little over $14.00 for two platters and two drinks, for a meal that was as delicious and fresh as it would have been if I’d made it at home, coupled with prompt, friendly service from someone who seemed genuinely happy to take our order, I know we’ll be going back again very soon. This is hands down the best burger I have eaten anywhere, ever.
Serrano’s Burgers is located at 1821 S. Fielder Road, in Arlington, Texas.