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The Mysterious Dad's Backyard Burgers, Merrifield..

will probably never open -- at least at this location on Gallows Rd.


Also, a bit of sleuthing has disclosed that whatever this place is, it's most likely not part of the Backyard Burgers chain, which I suspect is not yet aware of this "name's the same" interloper.


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  1. This place has been discussed a few times (usually between Meg and me) and it indeed has been a long time coming. I just drove past there today and I noticed that the "coming soon" sign was different than the last time I noticed, so there's some signs of life.

    The traffic on the section of Gallows Road between Arlington Boulevard and Lee Highway is such a horror show these days that I avoid the area whenever I can.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MikeR

      Well, glancing at the report Bob W provided a link to above, it sounds like an attempt to solve that traffic horror is going to be displacing the would-potentially-have-been Dad's and many of the other businesses in that strip...so any signs of life are most likely temporary

    2. Dad's Backyard Burgers opens on Monday! We live down the street from it, and have been anxiously awaiting it for 3 years since we moved here. Sign out front says they open on Monday. Has to be the world's most anticipated burger ever.

      9 Replies
      1. re: pdm

        I, too, have been waiting years for Dad's Backyard Burgers to open up. The original "Beware- Dad is Coming" sign started flapping maybe a year after the RV/trailer dealership closed up shop, and it took another 1-2 years before it was revealed that this was going to be a burger place. Unfortunately, when we stopped by there this afternoon, they had taken down the "we open 9/10" sign and it appears that we will be waiting a bit longer for Dad to get his act in gear.

        1. re: cjstuff

          We went by there for dinner today to find them closed. The owner came out and talked to us, he said they ran into some last minute issues with the bathrooms and ADA or something. He said they hope to be open on Wednesday. However, it didn't look like it was ready to be opened inside to me. The drink machine was on the floor for example.

          1. re: pdm

            after all this time they still don't have stuff like that approved? something is fishy here and it's probably not the burgers.

            1. re: Bob W

              I don't understand why these things take so long. New houses go up in a couple of weeks. Bamian was nearly two years in progress. The former Joe's that's becoming Le Coco Rico has been in progress for months. The Bailey's Crossroads Trader Joe's built a spiffy new sample prep counter months ago and they're still just serving sliced fruit, salads, and bakery products, no cooked food. When I teased the lady behind the counter about it, she said (about two months ago now) "We just got an appointment for our inspection."

              But I think Dad's Backyard Burgers has had the longest gestation period of any newly built restaurant that I can recall.

              1. re: MikeR

                Well, they are open as of today. I walked over and got a burger and hot dog. (way too much food, but I wanted to try both items). Was quite good. Certainly tasted more like from backyard and better than Five Guys to me (which I am a bit burned out on). Had a really good grilled and smoked flavor to it. They were quite busy but it didn't take too long to get my piping hot burger. 8oz burger is $8 and comes with fries and a driink, 5oz burger is $6.50 and comes with same. Fries were a little soggy, but maybe the fried will improve.

                1. re: pdm

                  Whew! I feel like I've been waiting forever! I can't do Five Guys anymore, last time I ate a hot dog there I felt ill for days....I guess that is what I get for eating a hot dog at a burger place! :)

                  Can't wait to try Dad's.........anyone know the hours of operation?

                  1. re: red_one

                    Stopped by on 9/2/2007, banner hanging which announced grand opening on 9/10 with 1/2 price burgers on Tuesday's following a Redskin win. Redskins won on 9/9. Monday at noon, banner is down, store is not open. Manager says bathroom too small, also reports burgers will be made by chef that worked at Sweetwaters and store will open soon. Tuesday - not open. Wednesday - not open. Thursday - not open. Not sure if this place will ever open.......

                    1. re: dean2ks

                      Guess I'll have to start looking at the Sports section of the paper on Tuesdays to see if there was a Redskins win. Normally I don't care, but with burgers prices at $6.50-$8.00, half price is good.

                      What's gotten so expensive about burgers? Ground beef at the supermarket hasn't changed much in price in the past couple of years, but the $8 burger isn't the outlier any more. Maybe they do because they can.

                      1. re: MikeR

                        We ate at Dad's this afternoon. It was a thoroughly whelming experience--not awful, but far from great. I, too, had initial sticker shock at the burger prices until I realized that you're also buying a medium/large drink and a reasonable order of fries. Deduct $3 from the price, and you're looking at a "right around 5 Guys" priced burger.

                        Our experience, though, wasn't great. They screwed up our order and had to re-make a burger. The bathrooms were BOTH out of order (which should, incidentally, close the restaurant to sit-down service, though not take-out). They were making burgers to order, but they had about 8-10 burgers keeping warm on the grill, and would dress one up as ordered. Fries were limp but tasty. The oddest part was the hamburger patty itself. Dad's mixes in a _lot_ of either parsley or green onion into the meat--my kids rebelled against a hamburger that "had stuff in it." Second, our burgers had an unusual amount of gristle in them. Maybe I was crunching on green onions, but I don't like that much resistance in my burger.

                        We plan to give Dad's a few weeks to settle down before we try it again. The wood-fired grills smell great, and the char on the outside o the burgers was nicely done. Counter service will improve as folks figure their jobs out. And hopefully, they'll do better on timing their production so that everyone gets a nice fresh burger. Still--there's a lot of green stuff in them thar burger patties.

      2. Was there today and it was an experience from hell. First the place is very small. Second why are they passing out forms for you to fill out, and then you still have to tell the guy what you want. My burger was wrong and they had to fix it and what the hell is that green stuff in there. This was the worst burger ever. I rather go to five guys.

        1. Went to Dads today for lunch with a coworker of mine. I tried the 5oz. Dads Original The burger had chopped onion and some green spice I couldn't identify in it. I could really taste the onions in my burger. Overall I thought it tasted ok but not great. It definitely wasn't better than Five Guys.

          Now I have seen a few posts where people describe the fries as soggy. I wouldn't say they are soggy. They aren't crispy like Five Guys. They are soft. I have had fries like this before at other places. Me personally I like them crispy so I wasn't all that impressed.

          My coworker thought the burger tasted bland. Like me he was not that impressed and thought Five Guys is better.

          The one thing I do think they need to change is the fact you can't just order a burger by itself. They only sell meal combos that come with fries and a drink. So even if you only want a burger you will get stuck with fires and a drink.

          As a whole Dads will need to improve the flavor of their burgers and fries before I go back. For now it is still going to be Five Guys for a good fast food burger.

          3 Replies
          1. re: odubum

            Our first reporter (BobW?) reported that burgers were half price the day after a Redsckins win. I think they won this Monday. Any specials? Or doesn't that start until the start of the official season.

            Everybody seems to have commented about the +fries+drink pricing (it's keeping me away, too) but has anyone specifically asked for just a burger and been turned down? Are they so busy that they can let you walk away? Don't just give us the message, give Dad the message.

            1. re: MikeR

              I was there on the discount day, and they only give the discount on the burger and not the fries and drink. So it wasn't exactly half price from the menu. This implies to me that you might be able to order it without those items.

              The burger I got on their opening day was really good, the burger the 2nd time was just ok, third time was pretty tasteless. The first day they also didn't have this useless ordering slip. I hope they stop doing that. They makeyou fill it out with nothing to write on, the guy still asks you all the same questions, there is no way to represent more than one person's order on the list if they want the same burger, and, they have you put you rname on the ticket and they never use it. Something that sounded good on paper before they opened obviously isn't working out in practice. I suggested to the young lady who is handing out the forms that this was quite annoying and she claimed that most people like it. I think if htey just put a menu board up over the cashiers head people could figure it and go more smoothly, and she wouldn't need to stand there by the door.

              We're going to wait a few weeks to give them time to sort it all otu and try again. I hope they do because a good burger place walking distance from our house would be nice.

              1. re: pdm

                Thanks for persevering. I wouldn't mind filling out a paper order blank, and it wouldn't bother me if the cashier reviewed it with me. I don't see what the big deal is, but maybe however they do it is annoying. Clearly they have figured out the price of a burger alone, so I'll bet you can get one if you insist on it, but you might not be able to get a burger and fries if you just don't want the soda. Sounds like 5 Guys across the highway is still the best place to get your fries fix anyway.

                Too bad about the taste of the burger going downhill. Maybe they'll get a recipe worked out over the next few weeks.

          2. Ok, I am one of the people who have been driving by this place for a long time. Wondering if it would ever open. Will it be like Mark Moselys burgers in Herndon. gonna open for a long time, then it opens, just to close soon there after.

            I love hamburgers and was happy to see it finally open. I happened to be in Merrifield for lunch and decided to stop by there.

            My reaction. I dont know. It was not bad. But, it... well, was different, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I was not crazy about the onion and cilantro in the burger. I am a purist when it comes to hambugers. I like to put my toppings on my burger, not mixe in. I also thought the patty was a little dense, I like lightly packed hand made bugers, that crumble slightly to the bite. I also wish they would ask how you want it cooked. Mine was cooked well, which may be the reason for the dense texture. I prefer mine Medium. I had the burger about an hour and a half ago and I still have the onion/cilantro taste in my mouth, which I am not crazy about. My wife or kid wont kiss me tonight... lol

            I liked the fries. Think they could have been cooked about 30 seconds longer, but very good fries. I like how you an get a 5oz or 8oz burger.

            I will definately give it a try again. I got the bacon cheese burger, will try something different next time. It was a nice bun, I got tomoato and onion on it ( d9dnt know the onion would be inside the burger too! lol ) and the toppings were fresh and tasty and really nice roll. I love the root beer they have as well.

            I did love the smoky taste of the burger, cooking over wood makes a big difference.

            I think the place has promise, I hope they will give you the option in the future to get the burger without the onion/cilantro. With having a 2 year old daughter, I know she would take one bite of the burger and say "UCKY!!!!" She might like the hot dog though... She would tear up the french fries though.

            I hope the owner is the type that will listen to feedback and make some adjustments and changes, if he does. This place could give five guys a running..

            1 Reply
            1. re: jtalbert

              Ah, Mosely's, what a waste of some great signage.

              For those who never saw it, the sign featured (in Burgundy and Gold, of course) a goalpost with a football sailing over the crossbar, with the words, "Mosely's Burgers -- It's Good!"

            2. I gave Dad's a try today and was pleasantly surprised. The burger tasted somewhat like what I'd make on the grill -- the controversial cilantro/green stuff was virtually unnoticeable; I suspect they have toned it way down. The fries were not especially crisp, but they weren't soggy and were pretty tasty. One quibble: The bun had already started to fall apart even before the jaws of death went to work. Better buns, please, Dad!

              The price: $8 for the 8 oz burger/fries/soda combo, plus $0.75 for a single slice of cheese that was inadequately melted. Next time I would order just the burger (for $5.50) and a side of fries ($2.50), which should get me more fries, and skip the $0.03 worth of diet Coke. I'll try mushrooms and/or grilled onions ($0.75 each) instead of the lame cheese.

              Overall, not bad. Better value than Elevation.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bob W

                Well, at least they let you order the burger, fries, and drink separately now. That's a start in the right direction.

              2. What a terrible experience. From start to finish. Here's the summary: the order-taker got it wrong, the cook got it wrong, the "finisher" got it wrong, and the only one who wasn't rude was the cook who didn't have a chance. It took a half an hour, there were only 4 customers in the place the entire time, two burgers and an order of fries cost a whopping $18, and has anyone else ever seen an open-view kitchen where the cooks spend most of their time on a CELL PHONE? Oh, and one of the burgers was RARE.

                Here's the story: I walk in--no other customers. While I'm filling out the oh-isn't-this-cute-it's-a-written-order-slip, a group of three come in. One of them says "I know what I want" so the order-taker starts taking their order. FIVE minutes later, while I'm cooling my heels the entire time, they've finally finished their order. The guy then takes my order (two burgers, a hot dog, and fries to go please) and I go sit at the bar in front of the cooks to wait. (Whew.) (Still no other customers.) I'm astonished when the cook takes a cell phone call. And then makes another cell phone call. (Cooks taking cell phone calls?) FIFTEEN minutes later (15 minutes to cook a couple burgers??? these better be good), they call #76. Cool, the other group has their order, mine should be ready soon. Oh wait! The cook is putting two burgers on the grill just now ... What?? Yup, they didn't even START my order until the other order was finished ... and DELIVERED!! More cell phone calls. (Maybe they're looking for work.) 10 minutes later the young lady comes over, pushes two styrofoam boxes in my direction and says "Here." (Gosh, thanks.) "Could I have a bag for that?" I ask. "Uh, hold on a second" A bag, a bag, yeah she thinks she can find a bag somewhere. I look at the two boxes and ask "What about the hot dog?" "Uh, hot dog?" You're kidding. They call over the order-taker. (Remember, only four customers in the place.) Not a word from the order-taker. He turns to walk away and says to the cook, "Well, I didn't charge him for a hot dog." It's now 30 minutes after I walked in, I am SO not waiting another half hour for a hot dog. No one says sorry. No one offers to get me the hot dog. No one says anything to me at all! Hello? Anything? Nope, nothing. Wow. As I walk out the door, the order-taker is busy looking through the saved order slips (remember the cute order slips?) (and what's he trying to do, prove that I'm *wrong*??) (it was written down!) ... hey dude, there's no one else in the building ... it's the slip AT THE VERY TOP! Total bill for two burgers and fries ... $18 WHOPPING DOLLARS. These better be good. One is an Alpine melt ... swiss cheese, mushrooms, onions and I asked for tomato. "You want lettuce or mayonnaise on that?" "No. Please. No." Oh yeah, we get home and there it is ... mayo, all over it. (I feel like the guy in that "hold the mayo" commercial. :-) Grilled onions AND chopped onions? Then my wife takes a bite out of it ... Ohmigod, it's RARE! As in, red in the middle, not cooked, not done. *My* hamburger? (Well at least it's cooked all the way through.) I ordered the BBQ burger. With Swiss cheese. What is this extra taste? Oh my goodness. MAYONNAISE on a BBQ hamburger?? Yup, big globs of it squirting out the top of the kaiser roll. And what a great combo ... mayo and BBQ sauce ... Mmm-mmm. And what's this cheese? Wow. *Blue* cheese. No swiss (duh--what could I be thinking? :-). BBQ sauce, mayonnaise and blue cheese. What an amazing combination. :-) So it took them a half an hour to serve FOUR customers, they cook their orders SEQUENTIALLY, completely FORGOT one item, made NO effort to fix the mistake, EVERY order was wrong, and wrong by a LOT, and an uncooked hamburger... by the end I thought I was on Candid Camera!

                I live just down the street from here (yes, the traffic is really as bad as everyone says it is), I've been *dying* to try out this place ever since they opened, but OH MAN, I AM *NEVER* going back.

                8 Replies
                1. re: 4allisons

                  Thanks for the great laugh. Sorry you had to go through the experience. Believe, me, it was worth it.

                  1. re: 4allisons

                    4allisons - ya done took one for the team - you have my gratitude and my sympathy.

                    1. re: 4allisons

                      Sounds like a place that will be a vague memory in 6-months.

                      1. re: 4allisons

                        Great post ! Sorry for your bad experience. I've had bad experiences in restaurants before, but your's takes the cake!

                        1. re: 4allisons

                          Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.

                          1. re: 4allisons

                            Great post. We need more like this. And let me add I'm glad Joe H has come back out of the woodwork the last few months.

                            One side comment tho. Don't knock having both grilled and raw onions on the same burger. I always order them that way when possible. The two are very different in what they "bring to the table," and go quite well together to enhance any burger, IMO.

                            1. re: johnb

                              > Don't knock having both grilled and raw onions

                              Good point. I've had that myself and like it too--I'm not knocking the combination. Just that we didn't order it that way.

                              Thanks for the kind words on the post ... part of me was getting pretty annoyed about this $18 lesson. But at some point (it might have been the rare hamburger, or maybe the mayonnaise squirting out the top of the bun), we just had to see the humor in the whole thing.

                              Ironically ... I called my wife that evening and suggested that I bring something home for dinner. "What should I bring?" I asked. Her reply? "Surprise me!"


                            2. re: foodiecritics

                              I don't know if you mean that you want Five Guys to move in, but there's a Five Guys literally 1/4 mile up the road.

                            3. Sounds like the staff just doesn't want to be around Dad! I don't live far from it, but I'm not likely to patronize any food places in that strip just because of the way you have to go around Prosperity and go past the Metro Station, then get in line to wait to turn in at that already crowded intersection.
                              On a side note, I had a burger from Five Guys Merrifield last night for the first time in months, and was pleasantly surprised to get it home, unwrap it, and see that, for the first time, it is not squished! Nor is it soggy! Bun looked like a bun, not a sponge soaked with grease....I think they're getting better.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: MsDiPesto

                                By the way, it's closed again. The big "Grand Opening" sign kind of dangles off the railing in a sad deservedly-lonely way. And there's a handwritten piece of paper scotch-taped to the front door saying that they're waiting for electricity. Yeesh.

                                1. re: 4allisons

                                  I was wondering about that when I drove by it a couple of nights ago. Thanks for the notice, not that I've been encouraged to try it by what I've read here.