DFW -- Culver's in McKinney
I happened to be in McKinney this morning and took the opportunity to stop in the Culvers (on the northbound Central Expressway access road about a half-mile south of Virginia Parkway; exit El Dorado Parkway if you are going north). Culvers is a regional chain that has been growing rapidly in the Upper Midwest and now has seven restaurants in Texas including another one in Rockwall (see link below for locations).
Culvers has been discussed on other Chowhound boards, with mostly favorable comments. I stopped at one last winter in Wisconsin on my way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and had a very good whitefish sandwich, which, apparently is a Lent/Springtime special. Today, I decided to try their "signature" Butterburger, described thus on the Culver website:
ButterBurger® is a burger made from fresh, ground chuck blend that is 100% U.S. beef. It is seared on a hot 475º F grill to seal in flavor and sandwiched between a lightly buttered, toasted bun (hence the name "ButterBurger®").
The Butterburger® was good, bordering on very good. Culvers patties are very thin, and, in fact, the woman behind the counter seemed surprised when I didn't order a doubl- or triple-patty sandwich. My guess is they weigh three ounces before cooking, and they are pressed hard -- on the grill. This yields a distinctively shaped thin layer of meat (squooshed is how the condition is described in my family) that provides a high ratio of surface area that has undergone a Maillard reaction. The edges are browned to the point of being crispy, which I happen to like. The burger is served on a toasted bun (buttered, as described above), with chilled lettuce and tomatoes, plus rings of red onions. The combination of temperatures, textures and CRUNCH was very nice. I had ordered mine with mustard only, but it arrived with mayonnaise, too the only thing that kept if from being very good.
The fries were OK, crinkle-cut and nicely golden with a crisp surface. Culvers offers side salads, onion rings, cole slaw and a few other non-fries choices. I noticed that they have a walleye pike sandwich (which could be a limited-time offering) on the menu and I plan to stop by for one when I am back in McKinney next week. Other choices include fried chicken and a chicken fried steak.
Culvers is also known for its frozen custard (a Wisconsin specialty that is most definitely not on my current regimen). I imagine it makes very good milkshakes.
I wouldnt drive too far to go to Culvers. Ive known about the McKinney one for more than a year now, but have resisted going until today. But if you are in the area and its a choice between Culvers and McDonalds, Dairy Queen or one of the other national chains, I would recommend making a stop.