To say I love stuffing is to be polite in front of strangers. My infatuation with stuffing (or “dressing” if you’re fancy) runs deeper than allegiances to blood or country. I know what you’re probably thinking: “Yeah right, Jake. A side that consists of bread crumbs, onion, celery, salt, pepper, and other spices is so good that you’d put it before family and America?”
But the truth is that I would gladly forsake either for a plate of delicious, golden stuffing. (Luckily, I have a mom that makes a killer stuffing every year, so I don’t have to make those tough decisions). Like a true hunter-gatherer, I combed the streets of Dallas, trying to catch hints of seasoned mush around the corner. Once I did, I stabbed it with my spear and brought it back to my village to share with my friend, who isn’t nearly as insane about stuffing as I am. We’ll call him Ziggy. I figured he’d provide a good ballast for my fanaticism, since he’s a bit of a downer.
Prepare for a completely over-thought review of several takes on the holiday recipe, judged from 0-5 “hand turkeys.”
HIGHLAND PARK CAFETERIA
Highland Park Cafeteria was not as forthcoming with its flavor as some of the others. It was a good texture—not too crumbly and not too blobby—and it only had a few speckles of veg hidden in its breading. Ziggy did not hesitate to lambast this recipe, saying it was “dry” and “bland.” It hurt to hear, but sometimes the truth is not easy to swallow. Good life lesson. His critical analysis brought the rating down to 2 hand turkeys.
Despite my slight bias, I was not the biggest fan of Mecca’s stuffing. It was too fine for me, with gritty bits that I did not enjoy. The flavor was alright, but I’d have to put a decent amount of gravy to deem it worthy of my discerning stuffing sensibilities. Ziggy echoed my crumble issues, but said that it was also heavy, and weirdly enough, that it was “meaty, like eating chili.” I don’t know where that came from. He seemed to enjoy it. We gave this stuffing 3 hand turkeys.
SWEET GEORGIA BROWN
Sweet Georgia Brown’s BBQ turkey wing plate came with a big scoop of stuffing as a side. I thought it was a bit mushy, a little spicy, and there weren’t any vegetables that I could see. The best part about it was that there was a lot of it. I appreciated that. Ziggy said it was mushy and sweet and Cajun. We gave this 3 hand turkeys.
ORIGINAL MARKET DINER
The Original Market Diner stuffing was eaten next to a plate of turkey covered in gravy, which may have slightly altered the taste. All I know is that it was nice and moist. (I know the word “moist” is like scratching nails on a chalkboard for some people, but I still think it’s nice to use). It was sweet, a bit clumpy, and didn’t have any visible veggies. Ziggy said he didn’t care about vegetables and continued dumptrucking it into his mouth. (Note: The stuffing is a Thursday special only.) This was a 3.5 hand turkey situation.
MAMA FAYE’S BBQ
Mama Faye’s BBQ in Deep Ellum was by the far the spiciest stuffing tasted at the kitchen. I didn’t know that stuffing could taste like that. Now I do. It was a bit crumbly and the spices seemed pretty overpowering, but with a dip of the gravy, I couldn’t put it down. Ziggy said it had a kick and it fell apart too easily for his liking. Together, we gave it 4 hand turkeys.
FULL CIRCLE TAVERN
I went to Full Circle Tavern to try their “Gobble Gobble,” which is a turkey sandwich with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy. I wanted to be fair to the other contenders, so I opened that sandwich up and merely scooped a bite of stuffing to taste. There was no getting around the cranberry sauce; it had a little kick, and together with the stuffing, it melted in your mouth. It was tasty. Ziggy kept saying it was “earthy” but he was too busy eating my sandwich to make any significant commentary. This one got 4 hand turkeys.
The stuffing from Celebration was sweet and sticky. It was chock full ofonions and celery, which I liked were visible. It had a cornbread texture but it was consistent and flavorful. Ziggy said it melted in his mouth, and the sweet cornbread gave it a “distinct” taste. This earned a solid 4.5 hand turkeys.
I hope you and your stuffing wishes come true this holiday season. I know mine have.
Jake Austin Medina is a D Magazine intern and a journalism major at the University of North Texas.