When it comes to new restaurants in the Triangle, I’m always excited to see something new and different. Because it’s SO hard to really raise the bar when it comes to a tried and true item like a hamburger. But every now and then you hit a new place, serving up an old standby, that does stand out. And I have to say that CowBar Burgers and Fries fills in that category. While they have been in the Morgan Street Food Hall for years, the opening of their stand-alone restaurant over in North Hills brings their burgers to another level!
If you’ve ever been to the CowBar at Morgan Street Food Hall, you know the drill. It’s loud, noisy, and chaotic with tons of people milling about. Not the most relaxing dining situation. CowBar Burger & Fries has a very similar menu but it just feels TOTALLY different in a good way. Located in the old B. Good space in the newer section of North Hills across from the greens area, there’s tons of space to stretch out here, including a nice covered patio to the left side. The main dining room is light and bright with tables sporting butcher block tops, similar to a barbeque joint.
Inside you’ll find a nice fast-casual, counter order set up with a cash register in front. Scan the menu on the screens overhead and thankfully, CowBar keeps things simple with eight burgers/beef sandwiches, five hot dogs, and even four vegan burger options. Gluten-free buns are available upon request. An assortment of fries and milkshakes round out this classic grill menu. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the menu, there’s some deliciousness along with calories here!
Once you order, you’ll get a number on your receipt and it’s time to self-serve your drink in the back left section of the dining area. Note that CowBar is still working on its beer-liquor license as of early May. At the soft drink area, you’ll also find the napkins, condiments, and a tool chest that holds plastic utensils and soda cup lids. Service has been pretty quick during my visits, expect to wait ten minutes or so while your food is cooked to order.
Now CowBar is all about the beef as you would expect, whether in burger or hot dog form. The burgers ARE stellar, some of the best I’ve had in the area. The truffle burger is a mouthful of umami sporting two juicy patties, smoked gouda cheese, caramelized onions, and truffle butter. Biting into this burger is an eye-rolling moment, a hit of savory flavor to the tastebuds. All the elements work great together with that truffle flavor and richness. The Alabama Slammer is loaded with American cheese, bacon, Alabama white sauce, and fried onion bits. Another delicious bite with more smoky flavor and texture than the truffle burger but equally good.
CowBar’s Southern hot dog is loaded up with fresh, crisp slaw, red onion pieces, and a swirl of yellow mustard, Super satisfying and super messy! You may need a fork to eat this bad boy! Another interesting sandwich option is CowBar’s Hot Italian Beef which features thinly sliced steak, pickled veggies, and doused with gravy. Those of you from Philly take note!
And the fries at CowBar are also excellent: skin-on in three different types. The Italiano features shredded parmesan cheese, rosemary, garlic, and pepper, a perfect accompaniment to any of the main items. And the Truffle fries are exquisite, served smothered with a creamy, sweet truffle sauce! While I usually use ketchup with my french fries, it’s not really needed here.
Throughout the space, you’ll find whimsical murals of cow-focused art and murals along with some wood barrels, beer signage, and more. All in all, I find it much more satisfying to enjoy one of their great burgers here in this space versus the loud and overly busy dining room at Morgan Street Food Hall. Each spot serves its own purpose but most likely I will be making the drive up to North Hills, moving forward.
I’m really happy with what CowBar Burger is doing here and I knew that they would be good. The upgraded space just allows you to truly enjoy the food they are putting out here and the burgers are excellent. When your menu is focused on such a basic menu item as a burger, pizza, or taco, it can be hard to elevate your menu to the next level but CowBar has done just that. If you’re a burger lover, make the effort to drop in here for a meal. They are doing a lot of things right and on the way out, you’ll be ruminating how they managed to make beef taste so good. And you may get a gentle, mooing reminder at the door.