The hamburger is an American staple. They are rib-sticking, delicious and simple. What could be better than a morning on the course followed by a cold beer and a meaty, melty cheeseburger? With five locations scattered around the Dallas area, Haystack Burgers and Barley is a must-try for everyone who loves a post-round fresh burger paired with a delightful brew.
Haystack’s owners, Kevin and Jenny Galvan, opened their first location back in 2013 in Richardson with the simple idea of fresh ingredients coupled with a sense of community. The restaurant was immediately met with success and a following of locals who were appreciative of great food at a reasonable price and a great atmosphere. Since then, the couple has opened four more locations in Lakewood, Hillcrest Village, Preston Hollow and Frisco.
Kevin and Jenny previously owned a Tex-Mex restaurant, with some generations of old family recipes that they have now imported to Haystack. Both Kevin and Jenny got out of the restaurant industry for a time, but admit they missed being in the kitchen and seeing patrons happy and enjoying their food. Thus, a new concept was created, and Haystack was launched with its Richardson location back in 2013.
We paid a visit to the Lakewood location, which isn’t too far from both White Rock Lake and the SMU campus. The interior of this location is cozy and modern, with a horseshoe bar for those wanting a cocktail or beer while dining. This is a perfect spot to belly-up after a round of golf and catch a game on one of their TVs. There are also plenty of tables for those with parties of four or more, and a patio for those days when the weather is perfect for outdoor dining and drinks among friends or with colleagues.
Beers and cocktails are available at the bar, with 12 draft beer options, including some usual suspects and some rotating local crafts, like the Oak Cliff Hefeweizen or the Texas Ale Project Fire Ant Funeral. Any of these beers pair well with one of Haystack’s great burgers, salads or sandwiches. Or should you be in the mood for something to snack on, have a couple cold glasses of suds and match it up with one of their dynamite appetizers.
Speaking of those appetizers, Haystack has a few that should immediately be added to your must-try list. Fried pickles are one of my all-time favorite apps, and the ones at Haystack are as good as any I have ever tasted. One of the things that make these pickles so well done are the fact they are not crinkle cut. These pickles are sliced thin, making them less briny than traditional fried pickles. And the light and crispy breading doesn’t come out greasy, but airy and crunchy, which keeps them from weighing you down if you want to sample some before one of their hunger-busting burgers. They come served with some creamy, cool ranch for dipping, making this a great sharable for the table.
Mozzarella sticks are one of my go-to appetizers anytime I find them on a menu, but so rarely are they done as well as the ones on the Haystack menu. Each one is hand-cut from fresh mozzarella and then panko breaded and fried to delicious perfection. Again, as with the pickles, they are not greasy at all, and the fresh cheese makes all the difference, giving these a cheesy stretch factor I have seldom seen in my extensive mozzarella stick expertise. They also come with some of that ranch and some house-made marinara for dipping, so give them a little dunk in the cool ranch and the warm marinara for a bite of cheesy perfection the whole family will love.
With their background in Tex-Mex, another app you need to try on Haystack’s menu are the chicken-stuffed fried jalapeños. This family recipe combines the perfect amount of spice, with some savory chicken and melty cheese. Often, fried jalapeños can be too spicy, really overshadowing the other flavor profiles, but not with these. They are crunchy and rib-sticking without being melt-your-face hot. They are top of the food chain, and for my money could easily serve as a meal all to yourself, if you are a fan of spicy, cheesy, meaty goodness.
Now that we have the appetizers out of the way, let’s move on to the star of the show … the fantastic burgers. Kevin often refers to Haystack as “fast casual, but full service,” and when you have one of their freshly prepared burgers, you will understand what he means. There is no freezer in the kitchen at Haystack, meaning everything you sample is never frozen and always fresh. So much so that the beef for their burgers is often delivered within just a few days of production, making them burst with beefy goodness instead of that dried-out, flash-frozen flavor of other burger joints.
Of course, you can build your own burger, but at Haystack, the menu is well thought out with flavor combinations that speak for themselves, so I would recommend one of the burgers from their menu, rather than go rogue and build your own. I sampled their signature Haystack burger on my visit, which is a juicy beef patty with melted cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, barbecue sauce, tomato, lettuce and some fried onion straws. The flavor combinations on this burger are dynamic and unique, with the perfectly cooked beef pairing wonderfully with the smoky, crispy bacon, a hint of sweet from the sauce, and a great crunch element from the Haystack onions.
Another fabulous choice is the Avocado Ranch Burger, which comes with sliced avocado, bacon, provolone cheese, lettuce and some avocado ranch dressing. The creamy ranch with the avocado notes and avocado slices are perfect accompanied by the melty provolone, making this a perfect order for avocado fans.
A couple other burgers that are on my list to try when I return to Haystack are the chicken-fried burger, which is exactly what it sounds like… a chicken-fried patty served with jalapeño-bacon cream gravy. This one is not for those on a strict diet, but I am willing to bet it is stupendous.
I am also a huge fan of the patty melt, and Haystack has one on their menu. It comes with cheddar cheese, sautéed onion, and chipotle mayo on wheat toast. This one is on the top of the list to try the next time I visit Haystack. I can’t wait to dive in and wash it down with an ice-cold beer.
There is also a wide selection of sandwiches at Haystack, if you are interested in trying something other than a burger. The Taos chicken sando is a good option, with poblano peppers, pico, pepper jack cheese and guac. Lindsey’s Hay Club is a great order for those who love the golf course staple club sandwich. Ham, turkey, cheddar, pepper jack, bacon and lettuce, tomato and mayo are in perfect proportion for a nice cool satisfying post-round bite.
If you aren’t a meat eater, Haystack has a great portabella mushroom sandwich, as well, that has grilled portabella, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion. It’s great for those watching their weight or that want to go the vegetarian route. It’s just another example of the thoughtfulness of the menu and Haystack’s commitment to serving those with dietary restrictions.
There are also four salads on the menu, from the Haystack, which is grilled or fried chicken tenders with fried onions, avocado, bacon, cheddar and tomato with some of that creamy ranch. There is also a Mediterranean grilled chicken salad with mixed greens, kalamata olives, marinated tomato, cucumber and basil. This comes with a side of habanero slaw and some balsamic Greek dressing. It’s a salad you won’t want to miss on a hot summer day or if you are looking for something light before you head back to the office to finish out the workday.
Every great burger place has a shake, and Haystack is no different. They have a chocolate, vanilla, Oreo, Nutella, and even a banana pudding. Each is creamy, cool and worth a stop even if you don’t plan on eating. Grab a couple to go and be a hero to the wife and kids when you arrive home with them.
From start to finish, Haystack Burgers and Barley is a simple concept, that is executed to perfection. Sure, it’s a burger place, and there are hundreds of burger places across the Metroplex, but the attention to detail is what sets Haystack apart from most. These aren’t your standard frozen grease bombs, but rather fresh, with well thought-out flavor profiles and near perfect execution. Nothing is greasy or heavy, so even if you want a burger for lunch before heading back to the office or to the golf course, don’t expect to feel bloated and bogged down by the experience. Haystack really knocks it out of the park for quick, casual dining that doesn’t feel that way. Stop in for a great burger and you can be the judge, but I have a feeling you’ll agree.
Haystack Burgers and Barley
Five Locations (Richardson Heights, Lakewood, Hillcrest Village, Frisco, Preston Hollow)