Few restaurants have been as eagerly anticipated as Superiority Burger 2.0, which opened Saturday night in what had been Odessa after a nearly 16-month hiatus. By Sunday evening, it had assumed something like its normal evening hours, opening at 5 p.m. and staying serving food until (at least) midnight. I’d passed by and checked to see if it was open so many times, I was overjoyed when it actually had.
I showed up promptly at 5 p.m. on Monday, hoping to at least secure a seat at the counter with a view of the refrigerated glass pie case. Maybe it was the impending indictment of Trump, but no lines had formed at that hour, and I was able to breeze in and grab a table near the front window. The tables filled up, so that the place was nearly full by 6 p.m. around which time the first customers of the day trickled out and newcomers began to wander in.
The menu remains vegetarian and largely vegan; Several signature dishes, such as the eponymous burger and the burned broccoli salad, remain from the earlier evocation. The menu is short for now — 12 savory dishes — with a vastly expanded dessert selection. (Remember, host Brooks Headley was once pastry chef at Del Posto, and it shows.)
Here’s a short list of things to know about Superiority Burger.
As diners used to do it in the last century, SB’s placemat features ads for area businesses around its periphery. Cocktails are symbolized by chairs that might have come from a very old Sears catalog.
The flatware service
If you prefer, you can eat everything, as I did, with the big spoon.
A typical booth
Booths are nostalgic holdovers from the old Odessa, with art from Brooks’s stash on the walls.
Customers who look like East Villagers sent from Central Casting.
Encased in plastic, the menu is relentlessly pink and likely to change.
After years of development, the signature veggie burger ($13) of SB is near perfect, with an almost-firm patty, confit tomatoes that give the thing some zip, a floe of muenster cheese, mustard, and pickles, displayed in diner fashion on a diner plate.
The modest-sized spud ($11.50), sided with lemon and parsley, cloaked in nicely browned cheese, has been cooked in such a way that the skin is crisp, so you’d better eat it. Don’t miss this.
Sweet & sour red beets
SB has many tips of the hat to its predecessor Odessa Restaurant, including this pickled beet salad flavored with dill, but then it shoots off in a nutsy direction with shards of pretzel, sesame seeds, and an underlying bed of jalapeno cream cheese. Totally satisfying, but it will leave you scratching your head in wonder.
This is unfetishized diner coffee ($5) that doesn’t advertise its origins and tastes wonderfully normal. One refill is free.
Half-pint malted date shake
Now that we’re into the desserts, note that they’re made by Darcy Spence, who had worked for Headley at the original SB, detoured to Yellow Rose, and has returned. This thick shake ($12) is made with dates from Mecca, California, on the Salton Sea. There’s a lot going on in there, and the fat straw is not even wide enough to suck up all the chunks. At this point, use the spoon.
Tapioca pearls decorate the top of this eye-popping pie ($15), and they stud a puree of Hawaiian plum with a remarkable color. Underneath is custard and graham cracker crumbs and the whole thing tastes like...key lime pie.
There are cocktails, too, mainly including classics like a Negroni, a gimlet, and a margarita. I picked the Old-Fashioned, which came with orange and lemon peels, and was a little lighter in flavor and density than this cocktail usually is. Thankfully.
I’ve saved what may be the best for last. One of Headley’s secret talents (besides real estate negotiation and museum curation — check out the art on the way to the bathrooms) lies in the selection of music. For the aficionado of obscure genres and rocking tunes you might have never heard before, the soundtrack at SB is an absolute delight, and here are all the songs I heard during my meal there, with links.
Starry Eyes, Roky Erickson
No Matter What, Badfinger
The Bottom Line, O.V. Wright
Knock on Wood, Eddie Floyd
Bored Teenagers, The Adverts
Ain’t No Love Bobby Bland
Popeye Waddle, Don Covey
Migraine Headache, The Rocks
Argos Farfish, Sharhabil Ahmed
Criminal Minded, Boogie Down Productions
So Greedy, Nine Nine Nine
Keep on Knocking, Death
Top Billin, Audio Two
Stoned Out of My Mind, Chi Lites
Hi Lo, The Quick