It’s with great pleasure that I recently found my way back to Dyer’s Burgers on Beale Street and had the chance to give them a well deserved rewrite. You may recall that the last time I was there, my burger was over-fried and just too crisp. Overall, I found the meal unenjoyable and pledged no more fried burger patties. That all changed a couple months ago when I received an email from the producers of Burger Land, a new show on the Travel Channel featuring George Motz visiting long time family owned burger restaurants all around the country. They wanted to know if I’d be interested in appearing on the show as the local “Expert Burger Taster” that takes George to Earnestine & Hazel’s and Dyer’s Burgers. It only took me micro seconds to agree. A day or two went by and I got a call from the producer saying there was some scheduling issues with Earnestine & Hazel’s and wanted to know what other burger joint I’d recommend instead. In staying with the genre of long time and family owned, I suggested Alex’s Tavern. I told them the food was always excellent and they just happen to be the oldest family owned tavern still open in Memphis. It was done. They were to shoot two days. One at Alex’s and the second at Dyer’s. All I’ll say about Alex’s in this post was the burger was excellent and George Motz really seemed to love it as well as all the nostalgia and Sonny-isms floating around the tavern.
When it came to Dyer’s, George was no stranger here. In fact, Dyer’s is one of the eight burger restaurants featured in Hamburger America, a documentary movie George made in 2004.
George and I met outside Dyer’s that morning. He shot several segments talking about the burger and it being the most infamous and decadent burger around. We shot several takes of my walking up and him driving up. It was pretty cool I must say. I’ve never been on the set of anything like that. It was also a cold morning so I was happy to hear they had all the takes they needed and we could go inside and start filming the burger segments.
George spent a lot of time behind the line with the cook and manager Scott Lawrence. His camera crew must have taken 40 minutes worth of video of the famous Dyer’s grease. The film crew and director did shot after shot and angle after angle of George getting the scoop on the now 101 year old seasoned grease and the way it’s strained daily and cared for. They did takes of the burger patties being banged out on marble countertop and the cheese being melted and dipped into the grease and then carefully laid on the burger patties. They must have shot a dozen takes of the cook circling the edges of the patties with the spatula and his technique for getting them off the counter without any tear. They focused heavily on the giant cast-iron skillet used now and the original one still on the premises. They went on and on and on about the grease and it’s flavor and how it was transported under armed guard from the old location to Beale Street. I was starting to wonder if we’d actually be eating burgers any time soon. Watching them being made over and over an not getting to eat one is pretty torturous for a burger lover like myself. Finally, we moved around to the bar stools on the other side of the line and Scott asked us the magic question, “What’ll ya have?”
George went with the Double-Double and I, being pretty hungry by this point, went Triple-Triple. My feeling about a Dyer’s burger is if you really want to taste more burger and less bun, you need to get the Triple-Triple. George argued that the Double-Double is the perfect ratio of burger to cheese to bun. Being the polite guy that I am, I acknowledge he may be on to something, but I still went Triple-Triple. I know what I like. For me the bun should compliment the patty or patties and cheese, but should never sway the taste away from the meat. The Dyer’s bun is just a standard Wonder style hamburger bun, but I still say the best way to do a Dyer’s burger is to go Triple-Triple with onion, pickle and mustard. If you get fries or onion rings, have some ketchup on the side. That’s all that’s necessary. George nailed it in the episode with, “The grease is a condiment in itself.” He’s so right.
So very much unlike my last visit, this Triple-Triple was pure Bad-Ass on a bun! I loved every bite of it. Remarkably, most of the greasiness was only on the bun from where the cook handled it after dipping the cheese to melt. What I was served that day was nothing but layers and layers of flavor and deliciousness. George and I kept the dialog going as best as possible while we both chowed down on our burgers. It was mostly small talk and observations of textures and flavors mixed with lot of groans of satisfaction and contentment. We both finished quickly and before I knew it, he was ordering a second Double-Double. He looked at me and I thought, “How could I not have a burger in front of me if they’re filming?” I ordered a second Triple-Triple. Lord help me. It was just as wonderful as the first.
Since the episode was shot, I’ve been back to Dyer’s Burgers a couple of times and have not once been disappointed again. Great burger. My mind is completely changed. I’d highly recommend.
I change my original score and give Dyer’s Burgers 4.5 Stars out of 5. This isn’t an everyday burger, but it’s a well worth the trip burger for sure!
205 Beale St
Memphis, TN 38103
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