Hot Dogs and Hamburgers -- Eh
Oh, how we all wish that M'Dawg Haute Dawgs and Urban Burger were the answers to our prayers. Both are great in theory, with friendly and well-meaning proprietors, but . . .
I'm afraid neither is worth a detour, at least not yet. Biggest problem?: The dogs and burgers simply aren't very good. Neither are the fries (and onion rings at UB).
At M'DHD, I had the half-smoke, which was not distinctive, and certainly not as snappy as Ben's. Ordinary buns. Frozen crinkle-cut fries. Why both with a dozen different dogs? Why not simply perfect one, as it some spots in Chicago (or, I'm told, at Palena).
At UB, I had a medium-rare burger -- completely undistinctive; no discernible beef flavor. One half of the bun was grilled, the other not. The whole thing was soaked to the dissolution-point with the burger grease. Stick with Palena (again) and Colorado Kitchen.
Of course, it's early, and things may change for the better . . .
I don't know if I would go back to Urban for a burger. I would definitely consider going back for the bratwurst and the wings.
Consensus seems to be that M'DHD doesn't have it's act together yet. If they're going to the trouble and expense to duplicate Chicago/Jersey/DC dogs, why are they doing such a sloppy job? The dogs themselves seem weak (or the servers don't know how to prepare them properly) and the condiments just don't cut it (No neon-green relish or sport peppers? How about celery salt?)
FYI, if you want the real DC halfsmoke, go to Canales Meats in Eastern Market. They have the real deal, made by Mangers in Baltimore: perfect spice, smokiness, texture, and snap. $3.99 a pound.
Where is this Urban Burger place?
I wish we could get a great burger joint like all the ones popping up all over NYC. But in all honesty I would also settle for an In-N-Out Burger...mmmmmmm.
My first experience at Urban Burger (in east Rockville on Rte. 28) wasn't great either, though I went opening week, so I'm willing to try again.
However, to compare it to Palena is not quite fair. The burger at Urban is $6, not $12 like it is at Palena. Urban is one step above fast food, not the bar area of a fine dining restaurant. And, for those in Mont Co, Urban is the local joint - the debate is whether Palena is "worth the detour", as you say. (To answer that, I am willing to detour on the way home from DC for the occasional stop at Palena, but I would never drive all the way downtown for one.)
For a neighborhood burger joint, they certainly have some areas to improve, but I like their attitude. And it was plain stupid for Sietsema to publish a review of a local burger joint after they'd been open a scant 6 weeks.
I haven't been to Urban Burger yet, but would be willing to try it when in the area. I would expect them to be review-ready after six weeks. This is, as you say, "a step above fast food" and a "neighborhood burger joint", how much time do they need to get their act together? Although I agree that a restaurant should be given some time to work out the kinks, I feel that as long as they are charging regular prices, they deserve a regular review.