Travis and Emma Heim opened a new outpost of their popular Heim Barbecue in Fort Worth last month. They’ve dubbed it the “River” location—it sits near the West Fork of the Trinity—and it serves the northwest side of town, whereas the original brick-and-mortar on Magnolia Avenue is southeast of downtown. With the second location, they’ve more than doubled their capacity to feed hungry customers. The even better news is that you can now have the Heimburger for lunch, dinner, or anytime between six days a week (they’re closed Mondays).
This isn’t your standard burger. It’s a barbecue burger through and through, but the burger isn’t smoked. It starts with smoked brisket that’s chopped fine and mixed with raw ground beef from 44 Farms. There’s about twice as much ground beef as brisket in there, but you’ll taste the smoke—although it might be coming from the most glorious burger condiment yet concocted: The Heim bacon burnt end jam.
“The jam is Buffalo Trace bourbon, and then obviously bacon burnt ends, onions, and butter, and you just let that reduce down,” Emma Heim explained, adding, “It’s so good,” with true excitement. She may have been jealous because I was eating one, and she was not while we discussed the burger. The classic Heimburger ($11.99) is a double patty monster (a single is available for $7.99). Travis Heim said the patties are a quarter-pound each, but it felt like closer to a pound of brisket burger between the butter-griddled sweet sourdough bun. Each patty is topped with a slice of American cheese and a thick swipe of that sweet, salty, and smoky bacon jam. Any run-of-the-mill “barbecue” burger—the kind with bacon, onions, and barbecue sauce—seems unworthy of the name after trying the Heimburger.
The Heims started making the burger and jam from brisket and bacon burnt ends remaining at the end of each day. They still use all their leftovers, but now that the burger is so popular, they’re smoking extra briskets and bacon burnt ends just to meet the demand.
At the River location, there’s a traditional barbecue line where you can watch someone slice your smoked meats to order. It gets packed on weekends, so one easy way around the line is to order off the bar menu from the counter directly inside the front door or from the bar. That menu includes the Heimburger and several other burger options, and Travis promises, “every burger has brisket in it.” You’ll also find wings, brisket tacos, salads, and loaded potato skins. You can’t get ribs or sliced brisket without standing in line, but I was shocked to find the bacon burnt ends on the bar menu. That’s easy access to one of the most popular barbecue menu items in Texas.
There shouldn’t be a backup on burgers at the new location, according to the Heims. At Magnolia, they’re only available after 4 p.m. on Mondays because of limited griddle space, but there is a full six feet of flat top at the River location. Alongside those burgers, Heim also offers hand-cut fries that are blanched and fried twice for extra crispness and fantastic battered onion rings. The place would be in the running for Fort Worth’s best burger joint even without the barbecue, but it’s nice to know you can get bacon burnt ends and brisket as sides to a burger that already features both.
Travis said they’re making more barbecue than ever so that they can serve a full menu for the lunch and dinner crowd. “We’re trying to do the craft barbecue thing…but I want to do it all day,” he said. They’re also making sure it’s fresh by making three batches of barbecue throughout the day. Emma said the burgers have become a sort of safety net, even if they do end up selling out. “We don’t want to sell out,” she told me. “But even the burgers keep people in line.”
Heim Barbecue (River location)
5333 White Settlement Rd.
Fort Worth, TX 76114