Dis & Dem started as Dis & Dat, before which it was Dat Dog. Skip Murray was one of the founders of the latter; an operation that now constitutes a chain of restaurants selling excellent hot dogs and sausages in a comfortable setting. He left Dat Dog last year, and soon opened a new place at 2540 Banks street that in addition to sausage, sold burgers.
That was Dis & Dat, but last month Murray changed the restaurant’s name to Dis & Dem and removed the hot dogs and sausages from the menu; the place is now entirely burger-centric, with sliders taking the place that hot dogs once occupied, and a breakfast menu to boot.
Dis & Dem looks, when you walk in, like a bar. That’s due, in part, because the first thing you see when you walk into the place is the long bar running the length of the front room of the shotgun that houses the place. The feeling is reinforced by the video poker machines just outside of the restrooms toward the back. But don’t be fooled; there’s a hidden gem in the back yard. Down a long, narrow walkway is a semi-covered patio that looks like a garden, is beautifully decorated and appears to have more seating than in the whole of the rest of the joint.
So Dis & Dem is not a bar, but if it is, it’s got some of the best “bar food” you’ll find. If you’re a grilled-burger fanatic, you’ll want to eat elsewhere. There’s a flat-top at Dis & Dem, and a fryer; if there’s any other method of cooking going on, I didn’t see it. Now that happens to be the way I like my burgers cooked, but fair warning if you disagree, you Philistine.
It is possible that the meat in Dis & Dem’s burger is selected from identifiable cuts of beef, or sourced from identifiable ranchers, or even taken from identifiable cows, but if that’s the case it’s not disclosed on the menu. This is not a frou-frou burger; it’s on the large size, irregularly shaped and for the most part your options to dress it up are simple.
You can add cheese, chili, a fried egg, a hot sausage patty or some combination of each. All are served between a Swedish onion-roll and dressed with lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayonnaise – you can add mustard and ketchup if you want. Some of the “specialty” burgers and sliders let you add chipotle mayonnaise or ranch dressing.
Of the sliders, which come with fries, I tried one made with chicken in a house-made “Buffalo” sauce that comes with bacon, tomato and ranch dressing.
I will admit that this is not the sort of sandwich (and there was nothing “slider” about it) I typically eat, nor the sort of food about which I typically write, but it was good. The combination of the bacon, tomato and ranch worked in a “BLT” sort of way, and the sweetness of the bun set off the spiciness of the “Buffalo” sauce nicely. I was also very hungry, I guess, but I think I’d have enjoyed it regardless.
There is also breakfast. I have not sampled the breakfast menu, but I certainly like the cut of its jib. Breakfast po-boys? $1 pancakes? Corned beef hash? Yes, please.
The neighborhood in which Dis & Dem is located is not the prettiest, but it didn’t seem unsafe to me. While derelict houses are not uncommon on the several blocks near the restaurant’s Banks street location, the beautiful rear patio demonstrates that all any place needs is a little love and elbow grease.
Dis & Dem is located at 2540 Banks Street, and if you’re interested in learning more (including what hours it’s open, since the website is not entirely consistent), you can call 909-0458.
Finally, congratulations are in order for Alon Shaya, who was named Best Chef: South this week at the James Beard Foundation Awards. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.