A three-part leson in how not to get me to try your restaurant.
Step 1: Tell me how to do my job: “Your readers want and need your opinion about new spots in town,” the e-mail urged.
Step 2: Tell me how good a job my competitors are doing: “Magazines like the Weekly compare us to In-N-Out,” the e-mail burbled.
Step 3: Use an emoticon. “We ‘challenge’ :-) you to test us incognito at any time,” the e-mail smiley-faced.
Triple grr. Except this time it worked.
Well-played, Hagen A. Thuernau, owner of Dita’s Brats & Burgers. So, nudged by the passage in your e-mail immediately following the In-N-Out reference — “but many of our customers say we are BETTER” — I rolled into your joint for an incognito lunch last Thursday, ready to taste-test your hyperbole. Because, man, you gotta back those all-caps up.
Dita’s has set up in the relatively uncontested market niche of German-American fast food, which means burgers, brats, curried sausage and piles of fries so mountainous you need a Sherpa to finish them.
“It will take three to eight minutes, because we prepare everything fresh,” the counterman said in slightly Germanic English.
Heftier than the In-N-Out Double-Double, the Dita’s double cheeseburger is otherwise strikingly similar to it in construction and ingredients: two paties, fresh lettuce, tomato, onions. But, bending to the point, how does it taste, vis a vis the Double-Double?
First, let’s talk about that curried sausage. Because that’s kind of trippy. According to a poster at Dita’s, it’s Germany’s most-ordered fast food. Oddly, I’ve remained so ignorant of Deutschland culinary trends that I didn’t know Germans had curry, or even fast food. I assumed their diet was all heavy sauces and dreams of European economic domination. So I went back the next day and tried some.
Good interesting, I mean. Mostly. It’s an odd brown sauce, and you can definitely taste some curry down there in the ingredient matrix, but you can also taste the German, if you know what I mean — it’s heavier, somehow … Teutonic. Spread over good sausage and buried in fries, it’s quite tasty for the exact duration of the amount that you get. One more bite would have been my German-curry tipping point. It’s an acquired taste, I’m saying, and I’ll be diligently acquiring it. I also tried the brat, pillowed in a fine roll, and it was all right. Good, but nothing I’d hop the Berlin wall for.
Back to the burger: It was fresh and quick, and while I wouldn’t say it’s BETTER than In-N-Out, I do think it’s COMPARABLE, and you partisans of the Double-Double who are all …
… well, what can I say. It’s a fine burger. I went to Dita’s two days in a row in order to take Herr Thuernau’s challenge. The third day I went because I wanted that burger.
DITA’S BRATS & BURGERS, 5117 W. Charleston Blvd., www.ditaslasvegas.com