Friday, July 31, 2015

Nashville Scene's Burger Week — Quick(ish) Notes 2: Dino's

   For my visit to a second of the participating Nashville Burger Week restaurants in the Nashville Scene's recent contest, I went to an old dive with new owners, one of whom was partly responsible for the place that set the bar for Nashville burgers in the 21st Century: Miranda Whitcomb Pontes of Burger Up. Pontes and partner Alex Wendkos took over the spot and opened it to the public this past January, to far less roar than was heard when Pontes' first burger joint starting serving, or other subsequent restaurant openings.

 A second craving Dino's serves is late-night food, with operating hours of 4pm-3am weekdays and noon-3am weekends. Even at most places that are open past 11, most Nashville kitchens close by 10; there's reason to cheer, here.

     Atmosphere: 9. Cheap burger joint at its best: 1970s thin wall paneling; diner-bar seating; the front window looks like it hasn't been completely cleaned since Bill Clinton was President. Friendly kitchen staff.

    Attractiveness: 9. Maybe it's because I was there for the late afternoon's light, or maybe it's because of the filtered goodness of the storefront window, but even onions and grocery-store-bought tomatoes couldn't detract from the immediacy of this burger's appeal.

Flavor: 8. There's nothing on Dino's website that indicates grass-fed, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is. If not, whomever's playing in the kitchen has hit on a perfect play of seasonings to bring up beef flavor that stands out, even with the above-mentioned toppings.

  Juiciness: 9 ... plenty of moisture, requiring extra napkins but not so much it bled over to the fries (which were also excellent). The burger was perfectly cooked, ordered medium-rare and it came that way, throughout.

Digestivity: 10. Happy to report, nothing lingered longer than it should have.

Overall: 9.

I'm trying not to get too excited about this, but the Odyssey just might have a new burger champ. By the numbers, it sure looks like it. But generally the only thing one might ask for to improve the burger is stick local tomatoes on, or have none at all. My initial impression is, this belongs right up there with Brown's Diner, Twin Kegs, and Burger Up.

Dino's Restaurant
Gallatin Pike, East Nashville

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