The answer in the case of Mooyah Burgers & Fries, a concept brought to you by Rick Hicks (founder of the Dallas-based Tin Star upscale fast food chain) and Todd Istre (Houston restauranteur), is to emulate.
Mooyah’s setup is eerily similar to that of In-N-Out Burger, a California based chain that gets plenty of national exposure for topping Paris Hilton’s diet among countless other celebrities’. DFW residents won’t be able to visit an In-N-Out Burger unless they journey west to California, Nevada, or Arizona, but they can eat almost like their favorite celebutante at Mooyah in west Plano.
Let’s start with the burger places’ menus. Mooyah’s slogan, as prominently displayed in the the restaurant, is “Just burgers. Just fries. Just better.”
Well it’s not strictly just burgers and fries, Mooyah also serves grilled cheese sandwiches and three flavors of milkshakes. Compare that to In-N-Out’s menu of just burgers, fries, and milkshakes, and the similarities start to become apparent. In-N-Out’s Double Double burger with two patties is Mooyah’s Mooyah Burger. Similarly, In-N-Out’s Hamburger with a single patty is Mooyah’s Mooyah Junior. Incidentally, does this naming convention (In-N-Out’s designation of the single patty burger as being the standard and Mooyah’s insinuation of the double patty burger as being the standard) imply anything about the difference in portion size expectations in California and Texas?
Secondly, both burger places seem to place extra importance on freshness.
Compare In-N-Out’s dedication to freshness:
“Our hamburgers are made from fresh, 100% pure beef. They are free of additives, fillers and preservatives of any kind, and we buy only chucks, the front ribs and shoulder…We even bake our buns using old-fashioned, slow-rising sponge dough…Customers may observe french fries being made from hand-diced, fresh, whole potatoes. And the shakes are made from real ice cream.”
To that of Mooyah’s:
“Fresh baked buns daily (our buns make the difference). 100% fresh lean American beef (never frozen; no additives, fillers, or preservatives). Fresh-cut potatoes (in house, everyday)…Thick and frosty shakes (100% pure ice cream)”
Lastly, there’s the patty thickness issue. Basically, burger patties originate from two schools of thought. There are thick, home-style patties, the ones seen most often at your standard casual dining restaurants like Applebee’s. Then there are thin, fast food restaurant style patties a la McDonald’s or Wendy’s. The fast food style patties are more uniform in thickness since they are pre-cut and frozen whereas the homestyle patties have more incongruity to their thickness due to the nature of the ground beef patties being hand formed. Both Mooyah and In-N-Out borrow concepts from both schools of thought. They both serve thin but fresh, never frozen, ground beef.
It is semi-upscale, quasi-fast food. For a weekday lunch, I had a Mooyah Junior ($2.75) with cheese, grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, and jalapenos. These are just a few topping choices off of Mooyah’s huge list, of which only cheese and bacon are each 50 cents extra, all others are free. My companion had a classic Mooyah burger ($3.95) with just bacon and cheese.
Mooyah burger with bacon and cheese:
The overall texture, seasoning, and thickness of the patty was enjoyable. However, because Mooyah packages the burgers wrapped in foil no matter if it’s a dine-in or to-go order, the bun gets soggy from the patty and the toppings. I could tell from the top half of my bun that it had been buttered and lightly toasted on the grill, but the bottom half of bun had no hope of staying intact with all the moisture (grease and whatever else) from the patty and the various cooked toppings. My companion complained that the burger was too greasy. I can’t say if it’s actually too greasy or just felt like it because of the soggy bun issue.
We also split a regular order of fries ($1.85), which were thick cut, crispy on the outside, and nicely seasoned. I noticed Mooyah had malt vinegar alongside the ketchup for those who enjoy eating these fries east coast style.
Overall, Mooyah served up some excellent quasi-fast food for the price. It’s nice to have an option when you need the speediness of a fast food restaurant combined with the quality ingredients of a sit down restaurant. If someone else’s business model has been giantly successful in other regions, why not borrow the concept and bring it to an area where there’s a market? Mooyah has opened a second location in Uptown and one in Addison will be open in November.
Rating: 3 / 5
Mooyah Burgers & Fries
6400 W Plano Pkwy
Plano, TX 75093