Inside Texas’ first Black Tap, serving burgers and CrazyShakes near the AAC

When Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer opens its first Texas restaurant in Dallas’ Victory Park on Aug. 10, 2023, its menu will read like they’ve been in the Lone Star State for years.

About five months after it opened in New York City in 2015, Black Tap has been known for its Texan Burger, a bacon cheeseburger topped with barbecue sauce and an onion ring. The Texan sells well in Disneyland, Las Vegas, Dubai. Singapore, too. But would the Texan Burger work in Texas?

The TX burger, bottom right, is served open-faced, with a big onion ring on top. Another Texas-inflected dish is the Texas BBQ fries, bottom left, which are drizzled with house-made TX bourbon barbecue sauce. Other Black Tap items include the vegan cauliflower-corn burger, hot fried pickles and the Champ burger.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

“I didn’t feel like the Texan Burger spoke enough to Dallas, specifically,” corporate executive chef Stephen Parker told The Dallas Morning News.

So he made a few changes while prepping for the Dallas opening. The burger’s new name is the TX, and it’s a juiced-up version of the original.

It’s “the Texan, on steroids,” Parker says.

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It’s still a bacon cheeseburger with a crispy onion ring on top. But the TX ($23) has Colby cheese, not cheddar, and the chef designed a new barbecue sauce made with TX bourbon out of Fort Worth. It’s a two-hander burger on a Martin’s Potato Roll, laced with thick slices of bacon.

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It’s a little bit amusing to see the burger in its namesake state, Parker and restaurant co-owner Julie Mulligan say as they sit in the new Dallas restaurant.

When Mulligan and her husband Chris Barish opened the first Black Tap in New York, it was a tiny, 15-seat burger joint with room for just three kitchen staffers.

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“It was no big deal,” says Mulligan. She installed black and white geometric floors in the restaurant in an attempt to make it look bigger. “We were just opening a local, neighborhood joint.”

As word got out about the burgers, lines formed around the block in SoHo. Parker remembers customers standing for hours during a snowstorm in New York City. Dallas restaurant operator Rich Hicks, who co-founded Mooyah Burgers Fries & Shakes, took notice of Black Tap during trips from Dallas to the Big Apple. Years later, he’s the entrepreneur expanding Black Tap in Texas.

Hicks says he doesn’t have immediate plans for where Black Tap will open next in Texas. “We’ll get this one right and then we’ll look at other locations,” he says.

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The milkshake bar inside Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in Dallas shows off the colorful candy jars. The original Black Tap in New York started selling milkshakes because it’s around the corner from a candy store, says co-owner Julie Mulligan.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Burgers

Burgers are the main draw at Black Tap. The Champ gets my vote, and not only because it seems like the right name for a burger before a big game at American Airlines Center across the street. The Champ ($21) is a Wagyu patty with blue cheese and arugula — simple enough but full of personality.

The Champ Burger is so named because it won “people’s choice” in the New York City Wine and Food Festival three times.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

The Truffle Burger ($22.50) has truffle-yuzu vinaigrette, black garlic peppercorn aioli, shaved Parm and truffle oil, and seems like a burger for the fancy friend at the table. The chefs also make a vegan Crispy Cauliflower Corn burger ($17) in-house and serve it on a vegan bun from Dave’s Killer Bread. The patty has a crisp crust and a soft interior; the avocado jalapeño crema smeared on the bun is a nice touch.

Black Tap will likely be a stop for sports fans and concertgoers, and the restaurant has plenty of bar snacks. Hot fried pickles ($11.50) are spiced up with house-made chili oil that Parker also uses on chicken wings and on a hot chicken sandwich with black garlic.

Onion rings from Black Tap in Dallas are big.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Sides are simple and made from scratch: French fries, sweet potato fries and big-as-a-bracelet fried onion rings. Or, Texans can order loaded fries made just for Dallas ($13), with ground beef, queso, TX bourbon barbecue sauce, chili oil and scallions, with a dust of coffee-barbecue spice on top. That same barbecue sauce and coffee-barbecue spice is on the TX burger.

Whereas the first Black Tap was hardly big enough to prepare a full menu, the Dallas version seats 200 people and has a plenty-big kitchen. Mulligan, who designs all the restaurants, has added street art made by New York artist Fumero.

Outside of the restaurant, a mural by Fumero shows the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas connected to the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, a graffiti-art yellow rose in the middle.

Artist Fumero painted the mural outside of Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in Victory Park.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

CrazyShakes

Although Black Tap is, today, equally known for its burgers and its milkshakes, the desserts weren’t initially a big part of the restaurant. Customers would take the classic shakes in flavors like strawberry or chocolate and top them with candy from the shop around the corner in SoHo, Mulligan says.

CrazyShakes like this Strawberry Shortcake variety look like a meal all on their own. Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer opens Aug. 10, 2023 in Dallas.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Eventually, Black Tap adopted a list of over-the-top “CrazyShakes” that are the envy of Instagram.

The Cookies ‘N Cream Supreme Oreo shake ($17) is a staple, as is a cake batter shake ($18.50) and the strawberry shortcake shake ($16). They don’t lend themselves to be boozy — there’s just so much going on — so the team added $9 “shake shots” for the 21-and-up crowd who want a boozy dessert. Options include the Cakeshake shot with vodka, amaretto, Irish cream and vanilla soft-serve, and a root beer-chocolate-marshmallow shot called Rock & Road.

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Texans searching for more menu representation can check out the cocktail list. The Old Fashioned ($12) uses Texas-born Dr Pepper and Balcones bourbon from Waco. The Texas Tea ($12) — a play on a Long Island Iced Tea — puts Texas in the glass by using Richardson-based Lockwood spirits.

“We try to make each restaurant fit into its neighborhood,” Mulligan says.

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer is at 2475 Victory Park Lane, Dallas. It opens Aug. 10, 2023. Dinner only, for now. Open seven days a week. No reservations needed.

For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich.

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