Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, March 22, 2006
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7th Street Grill doesn’t make burgers to order but does ’em justice.
7th Street Grill
Half-pound
cheeseburger platter $5.15
Buffet salad bar $5.25
Chicken-fried
steak platter $5.25
Jumbo chili cheese
dog platter $5.25
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
7th Haven

With good food, speedy service, and low prices, a little downtown grill fills a big need.

By DAN MCGRAW

7th Street Grill

411 W 7th St, FW. 817-877-1390. 7am-3pm Mon-Fri. All major credit cards accepted.

n the lobby of the Neil P. Anderson Building downtown is a quiet departure from your typical worker-bee lunch stops; you know, Chili’s for the secretary’s birthday, the Chop House for wheeling and dealing, and Razzoo’s for morale boosting.

7th Street Grill has been around for a while, and for its first few decades, the place was pretty much just a hamburger joint. Since new owner Sandy Potter took over not too long ago, the Grill has expanded the menu to include daily specials, big salad plates, and pizza. Even though the fare isn’t that much better than what you’d find at most of the chain eateries nearby, there’s something that recommends the Grill over its bigger, more homogenous competitors. Call it “relaxed alacrity.”

The crowd is usually sparse in the Grill’s totally cafeteria-style setting. Even if you have to order something , the maximum wait time isn’t much more than a couple of minutes.

The best part: Just about every lunch is less than six bucks. Good food, quick preparation, and inexpensive? The 7th Street Grill may be the shiniest diamond in the rough of downtown lunch breaks.

Even though the Grill’s burgers are kept warm on the line and not cooked to order, they’re pretty darn good — big, juicy, meaty half-pounders with your choice of traditional toppings on soft buns. Like most of the sandwiches, the burgers come with two sides. Fries are an option, naturally, but there are also healthier accompaniments, including baked potato, black-eyed peas in a vinaigrette dressing, and spunky potato salad. Try gettin’ that at Jack in the Box.

Then there’s the salad bar. Most sneeze-guarded cornucopias are reluctant appeasements to diet nuts, but 7th Street Grill’s is buffet-like in its selection, diversity, and quality. At least one hot dish typically makes an appearance, and on the day of a recent visit, the offering was Frito Pie with a choice of queso or red chili topping. The melted cheddar teemed with tangy peppers, and the chili — as it should be — was spicy, meaty, and chewy. (Warning, native Texans: The Grill’s chili contains beans.) The salad was fresh and colorful, with lots of chopped red cabbage, cucumbers, red tomatoes, and bright green broccoli, and for dessert, the banana pudding with vanilla wafers screamed creamy sweetness. Three decent-sized bowls went down easily, comfortingly. Diet, schmiet.

The chicken-fried steak would make any roadside diner cook proud. Cuttable with a fork, the meat was tender if a little dry, and the gravy escort had a perfect, dense texture and a lot of zip. Equally tasty was the jumbo chili cheese dog platter: A huge inch-and-a-half-thick bad boy with beefy kick surrounded by limp but flavorful green beans and ordinary drenched-in-salt fries. Everything hit the spot, but the Grill should’ve sprung for bigger buns. Eating a hot dog with a knife and fork is just plain un-American.

So with all of this urban redevelopment happening in town, let’s hope that 7th Street Grill doesn’t get buried under the tons of money being thrown into the area. Birthdays at Chili’s are OK, but, alas, even they get old. On the other hand, taking time out from your busy workday schedule to re-charge your battery and fill your belly on the cheap will never, ever, never-ever fall out of fashion.


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