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Help! Best hamburger in DC?

theamusedbouche Jul 1, 2011 06:22 PM

I have a guest coming to visit from Ukraine and she has never had a hamburger and is excited about trying this American specialty - I don't really eat hamburgers and I don't know where to take her - please give me some suggestions for where to go for the best hamburger in DC - it's got to be great because it will probably be the only one she ever eats!!!!!!!

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  1. m
    malveaux RE: theamusedbouche Jul 1, 2011 07:25 PM

    You want Ray's Hellburger on Wilson Blvd in Va. It is sooo good (order it to be cooked medium) that it will definitely not be the only one. It will create an instant craving.

    7 Replies
    1. re: malveaux
      DPGood RE: malveaux Jul 1, 2011 07:38 PM

      Add to that the long lines in DC, especially when the
      President shows up.

      1. re: DPGood
        dining with doc RE: DPGood Jul 2, 2011 06:21 AM

        Although lines are long,it moves quickly....peppercorn crusted with melted Brie and faux gras. The best!

        1. re: dining with doc
          monavano RE: dining with doc Jul 9, 2011 08:07 AM

          Lines haven't been that bad. It moves fast if there is one.

        2. re: DPGood
          chowser RE: DPGood Jul 3, 2011 12:16 PM

          We went recently and didn't find a long line. Just don't go in the middle of a meal rush. And, bring cash.

          1. re: chowser
            monavano RE: chowser Jul 9, 2011 08:06 AM

            There's a free ATM in the back.

            1. re: monavano
              chowser RE: monavano Jul 10, 2011 07:42 AM

              Good to know--thanks!

        3. re: malveaux
          monavano RE: malveaux Jul 9, 2011 08:07 AM

          Medium? NO! Order it "recommended", which is med rare.

        4. s
          Steve RE: theamusedbouche Jul 1, 2011 09:20 PM

          My favorite is BGR, the Burger Joint. Multiple locations. There's one on Dupont Circle.

          The Burger Joint
          4827 Fairmont Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

          1 Reply
          1. re: Steve
            ClevelandDave RE: Steve Aug 11, 2011 01:47 PM

            Won't say it is my favorite, but the do have the coolest sef served digital fountain soda machine-hundreds of possibilities with Coke products!

          2. ipsedixit RE: theamusedbouche Jul 1, 2011 09:45 PM

            The Farmhouse Burger at Good Stuff Eatery.

            A basic burger, made expertly well, with quality hand-formed patties and basic toppings (lettuce, tomato, pickles) that you can easily remove if you really want to be primal with your burger and taste nothing but beef and bun, which is sometimes what you really want -- and need


            Good Stuff Eatery
            303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

            1 Reply
            1. re: ipsedixit
              monkeyrotica RE: ipsedixit Jan 30, 2012 10:49 AM

              Good Stuff has gone WAY downhill. I would not recommend it.


              Shake Shack is my new favorite mid-range burger: good beefy flavor, cooked to order, toasted buttery potato roll, and the fries are outstanding.

            2. m
              MikeR RE: theamusedbouche Jul 2, 2011 06:40 AM

              Among the half-dozen "great" hamburger places in town, there are at least five declared hands down best by some here, and at least five (not the same five) with burgers declared not fit to feed to your dog.

              There is no "best." I'd suggest that you take your guest out for two different burgers, one being Five Guys for the true American lunch counter (minus the lunch counter) hamburger. There are several locations which vary somewhat in quality, mostly in how the French Fries are cooked (one "regular" order is easily enough for two) so be fussy. If they're limp, ask for a fresh order.

              Pick the other "super gourmet" burger from those that are close to where you live or close to some place where you'll be going with your visitor. There are a few BGR (The Burger Joint) shops around town. There's only one Ray's Hell Burger (Arlington) though I think you can get a somewhat more upscale version at another of his restaurants, also in Arlington. There are plenty of pretty darn good burgers are more family-oriented restaurants or sports bars like Red Robin or Glory Days. Good Stuff Eatery is perhaps better known for their shakes than their (also good) burgers.

              3 Replies
              1. re: MikeR
                Dennis S RE: MikeR Jul 2, 2011 07:11 AM

                Mike is speaking good here. But, if I ever had only one I would do the Ray's thing. And I would do it at HellBurger. The others are fine, and for those of us that eat one every week, whatever. If it's the first. Ray's HellBurger. Go there are 11:20 and wait for them to take orders.

                1. re: MikeR
                  Ziv RE: MikeR Jul 4, 2011 06:18 AM

                  I agree with Mike and Dennis, Ray's and 5 Guys are two of the best burgers in the area and they are two different types of burgers so it is worth hitting them both with a day or two in between to get your burger lust back.
                  Rays has a burger from some sort of epicurean, bacchanalian dream, it is over the top and so delicious, but it is like 2 meals in one bun. I am a big guy but some times I wish it was just a bit smaller, because I have been trained to eat everything that is put on my plate. Thanks, Mom!
                  Five Guys is a growing chain and the different cafes each have a different vibe, but they all do the peanuts and fries, though again each is a bit different. I like the nearly original one on Beauregard off Rte 7. 5 Guys is more of a burger like your dad made you when you were a kid, when he was on his game, anyway.
                  So if your friend is here already, the 4th of July is a truly appropriate day to wolf some of the best burgers in the US, and they are here in Northern Virginia which is kind of odd.... Though 5 Guys does cross the water into DC, most Virginians do not. ;-)

                  5 Guys
                  6210 Quander Rd, Alexandria, VA 22307

                  1. re: MikeR
                    ClevelandDave RE: MikeR Aug 11, 2011 01:50 PM

                    Mike also raises a good point- we're talking burgers here. Shakes (Shake Shack, Good Stuff marshmallow shake), fries, onion rings, etc are another story.

                  2. dacfood RE: theamusedbouche Jul 3, 2011 11:07 AM

                    The best burger is at Central. I'd recommend it "as designed" but they are happy to serve it however you want. Also very comparable but harder to get to unless you're already in Va is Rays. A benefit of Central is that there are plenty of other non-burger excellent choices. Rays has amazing meat and many more burger choices.

                    And then there's the lobster burger at Central. Pricey yes, but if you have one choice that's what I'd go for.

                    (the picture by my id is a central cheeseburger)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: dacfood
                      mdpilam RE: dacfood Jan 30, 2012 08:06 AM

                      I finally tried the burger at Central, and have to say, it was the best burger I've eaten in DC (other than the ones I grill at home). However, it was definitely not worth the $19 - it was marginally better than Ray's (which I'd put as my second; still haven't tried Palena's or Bobby's). My gf thinks that Burger, Tap and Shake has been the best.

                      1. re: mdpilam
                        agarnett100 RE: mdpilam Jan 30, 2012 08:52 AM

                        $19.00 for a burger is just to steep for me to justify that almost 3 nice fat steaks from Costco.

                        I try Bobby's place in College Park the burger was not even on Five Guys level

                    2. e
                      eguder RE: theamusedbouche Jul 3, 2011 01:21 PM

                      I tried the bison burger at Granville Moore's last night, and I would put it among the top 3-5 I've had anywhere. That thing was amazing.

                      granville moore's
                      1238 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

                      1. t
                        Tasting123 RE: theamusedbouche Jul 3, 2011 03:36 PM

                        BGR, the Burger Joint, is an ok place but I found the place snotty and expensive. That would have been ok if the burgers were not as dry as they were. I found Boardwalk Burgers a much better value although they don't sell beer. I don't know if there are any in DC but there's one in Manchester, VA (close to Alexandria where I live). I hear they opened a new one in Springfield, VA, but I haven't been there yet. But, having eaten their burgers, I can tell you it's worth every bite. Has your friend ever tried french fries? You gotta try Boardwalk's - much better than any I have known. Good luck and good thought about treating her to some real Americana!

                        The Burger Joint
                        106 N Washington St, Alexandria, VA 22314

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Tasting123
                          Steve RE: Tasting123 Jul 3, 2011 05:12 PM

                          BGR serves a dry-aged burger that is $6/7. Hardly expensive. The cubano is an outrageous amount of food, very delicious, $9, but for me it's guilding the lilly. Of course, if it comes out dry that's not good, but i assure you that is not at all the norm. They serve the juiciest burgers consistently. I am not sure what you mean by 'snotty.' The folks at Dupont Circle and Arlington display no attitude. They just take your order and serve you the food.

                          1. re: Tasting123
                            chowser RE: Tasting123 Jul 4, 2011 08:28 AM

                            I like Boardwalk Burgers in Alexandria and think it's along the lines of Five Guys. But, I don't think it compares to BGR and haven't found it to be snotty (I've been to Arlington, Springfield and Bethesda) but you should know what you want before you get to the front of the line. I find that to be the case w/ all of these places.

                            If I had a visitor from another country who might only have this experience once, my order would be: Ray's, BGR then Five Guys/Boardwalk. All are good but Ray's is the best.

                          2. woodleyparkhound RE: theamusedbouche Jul 4, 2011 07:59 PM

                            I would also say Ray's -- and Five Guys, to make a comparison of two very different types. The only thing I don't like about Ray's is that they don't serve shakes there, and I think burger/fries/shake is the classic American combination. For that, I would go to Good Stuff Eatery and/or Shake Shack.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: woodleyparkhound
                              chowser RE: woodleyparkhound Jul 5, 2011 05:55 AM

                              BGR had a really good bing cherry shake recently, with chunks of fresh bing cherries.

                              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                SandyCat RE: woodleyparkhound Jul 5, 2011 08:55 AM

                                Adding my vote to WPH's sentiments. Ray's good for gourmet burger, Five Guys good for quintessential fast food burger, Shake Shack/Good Stuff for the universal idea of "burger."

                                My reaction to BGR was *shrug, finish burger.* I didn't find it particularly good or bad. The fries are all right. The shakes for me are inconsistent: some days good, some days blah. I also found the staff at BGR in Dupont to be impatient and unhelpful.

                                1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                  Lori D RE: woodleyparkhound Jul 5, 2011 01:49 PM

                                  I think that Ray's does serve shakes now.

                                  1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                    agarnett100 RE: woodleyparkhound Jul 8, 2011 01:13 PM

                                    We should have different categories when discussing the best hamburger such as the best burger under $8 and the best burger over $8 dollars.ie the burger at Central is $17 that better be one hell of a tasty hamburger

                                    1. re: agarnett100
                                      Dennis S RE: agarnett100 Jul 8, 2011 03:25 PM

                                      Though there are the middlin's. Like Counter Burger or Cheeburger Cheeburger or whatever that chain is (don't despise, just not promoting)

                                      1. re: agarnett100
                                        MikeR RE: agarnett100 Jul 9, 2011 07:20 AM

                                        You'll have to make it more complicated than that. A cheeseburger and fries at Five Guys is practically $8. Perhaps it would be better to categorize them as "home style" (or lunch counter style) and "gourmet style like you'd never think of to make at home but you could."

                                        1. re: MikeR
                                          ClevelandDave RE: MikeR Aug 11, 2011 01:57 PM

                                          How about lets call Five Guys what it is: very good fast food. Think an In and Out Burger- it is fast food. To be slightly different, I don't really find Five Guys to be all that great. I mean it is a fine burger, but I like a toasted bun that is not soggy and like many on here medium rare and not done through. Plus I think the fries are a bit greasy. Again, it isn't terrible but there is no way I'd choose it over Rays, Shake Shack much less Central as an experience by any measure from ordering/service, atmosphere, packaging, taste, or sides (ie fries, shakes, etc though the condiment selection is very good).

                                        2. re: agarnett100
                                          dacfood RE: agarnett100 Jul 9, 2011 07:40 AM

                                          At $17 it is worth it but not for everyone. I think it's best with all the toppings cooked medium rare or medium. If you don't like one or more of the toppings or like your burger cooked beyond medium then maybe it's not worth it. My son likes it plain with just cheese and bacon (of course for him price is not an issue :)). We've tried many of the top burgers in the area - Ray's, Palena, J&G, BGR, Urban, Shake Shack, Victoria's, West End Bistro, 5 Guys, Cheeburger^2, Sunshine Market, and others. I've also had NY's Minetta Tavern's Black Label Burger at $26. Central and Ray's are our clear favorites with Central ahead because of the variety of other food and, since we're in MD, it's easier to get to.

                                          3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                          5 Guys
                                          6210 Quander Rd, Alexandria, VA 22307

                                          1. re: dacfood
                                            dining with doc RE: dacfood Jul 9, 2011 08:27 AM

                                            You under.ranked Victoria Gastropub in Columbia. Their Kobe beef burger with white trufle cheese sause , homemade pickles on a brioches bun gives Rays a run for it's money especially if you get an order of poutine ( fries cooked in duck fat served with duck confit, duck gravy, and melted Guyere cheese.

                                            1. re: dining with doc
                                              dacfood RE: dining with doc Jul 9, 2011 09:37 AM

                                              I agree with almost everything you say. Victoria's burgers are really good and the poutine is a special indulgence. I've been to VG many more times than Rays mainly because of convenience as I'm in Clarksville. Both are extremely good. I've never been big on pickles but I always get them at Victoria's.

                                              All that said, I don't know if there's any better burger than one you grind yourself and cook over hardwood charcoal.

                                              1. re: dacfood
                                                woodleyparkhound RE: dacfood Jul 9, 2011 09:57 AM

                                                "All that said, I don't know if there's any better burger than one you grind yourself and cook over hardwood charcoal."

                                                That may be true, but unless you are going to be making burgers at home on a fairly regular basis, it's really expensive to buy all the great toppings you can get at Ray's and other places, not to mention the refrigerator real estate they take up. But if you are a person who likes your burgers naked, well then, that is another story.

                                      2. hill food RE: theamusedbouche Jul 5, 2011 12:09 AM

                                        this thread reminds me of the movie 'Barcelona', all through the movie the Catalan women are giving the American guys crap about their hamburguesas until the last scene back in the states at a cookout and the gals have a eureka moment "Ahhh, hamburGUEsas!"

                                        so no love for Ollie's over 5 Guys? oh well.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: hill food
                                          GraydonCarter RE: hill food Jul 7, 2011 10:59 PM

                                          This could turn into one of those "best pizza" discussions, ending up in just a long list.

                                          I can't disagree with any of the recommendations here, and I've only ever had an "upscale gourmet" burger a couple times (you should read the "Gourmet Burger" thread on the Las Vegas boards), which for $15 of course is going to be good.

                                          But the best burgers in my memory were always at greasy spoon bars or diners. I remember working in Pittsburgh and the bar across from the plant had a deal - $2 for a burger and a beer - and I ate there every day.

                                          1. re: GraydonCarter
                                            hill food RE: GraydonCarter Jul 8, 2011 12:13 AM

                                            yeah I don't want to derail this. but I'd eat there. sometimes utter dumps are the best.

                                            1. re: hill food
                                              monkeyrotica RE: hill food Jul 8, 2011 05:16 AM

                                              Well, that's the problem with any "where's the best [whatever]" thread. It's like asking "what's the best color" or "who's the best person." Now, if OP asked where's the best GOURMET burger or best CHEAP burger, we could narrow it down. Fortunately, we've got a lot of good suggestions in both categories anyway.

                                              And yeah, +1 on the cheap dive/diner burgers. Love me a nice, simple Tastee Burger or Tune Inn burger, just like I like a nice Ledo's or Valentino's floppy slice, often more often than a kobe or fois gras slider. My theory is that, the more sophisticated the palate, the greater the need for simple, plain, unpretentious food.

                                              Tune Inn
                                              331 Penn SE, Washington, DC

                                              Ledo Restaurant
                                              4509 Knox Road, College Park, MD 20740

                                              1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                GraydonCarter RE: monkeyrotica Jul 8, 2011 07:41 PM

                                                That's actually kinda profound, about the palate.

                                                And the OP actually did narrow the topic, down to "best first and last burger experience for a Ukranian tourist," in which case the atmosphere is as important as the flavor in contributing to a positive experience.

                                        2. monkeyrotica RE: theamusedbouche Jul 5, 2011 09:26 AM

                                          My current favorite is the Adana Burger at Balkan Grill. Spicy, the size of a hubcap, on fresh baked bread, and a steal. Not an "All American Burger" but delicious nonetheless.



                                          Balkan Grill
                                          5902 N Kings Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22303

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: monkeyrotica
                                            arglebargle RE: monkeyrotica Feb 13, 2012 05:50 AM

                                            I had the Adana Burger yesterday for lunch. It was huge, it was delicious, and wow my insides are still in turmoil from the heat!

                                            It's a tasty heat though that creeps up on you.

                                          2. t
                                            theamusedbouche RE: theamusedbouche Jul 5, 2011 01:46 PM

                                            Thank you so much to everyone who helped out on this - we ended up doing a typical and an upscale burger - typical - Five Guys, upscale, at J&G Steakhouse. I have to say, I wish I could have gotten a reservation at Central because now that we've had the burgers at both Central and J&G, the one at Central was better - @dacfood - you were totally right!

                                            J&G Steakhouse
                                            515 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: theamusedbouche
                                              J_DC RE: theamusedbouche Jul 5, 2011 04:52 PM

                                              For upscale burger, I have to also add Palena Cafe (the restaurant in the back is fine dining, the cafe is more casual). The burger there easily became my favorite in the city.

                                              3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                              1. re: theamusedbouche
                                                dacfood RE: theamusedbouche Jul 6, 2011 03:46 AM

                                                I'm glad you enjoyed the burger at Central. As for reservations, you can often get seats at the bar where you can order off the menu. I've done that many times and had good luck. The bartenders are pretty attentive.

                                                At J&G you want the calamari.

                                              2. purplescout RE: theamusedbouche Aug 11, 2011 12:57 PM

                                                Thanks for all the tips. We greatly enjoyed Good Stuff Eatery. My son said it was the best food of the trip. I had the Barack Obama burger which was a fantastic combination of bacon, blue cheese, onion marmalade and horseradish sauce. The onion petals were also fantastic. Wish we'd ordered the marshmallow milkshake....maybe next time!

                                                Good Stuff Eatery
                                                303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: purplescout
                                                  monkeyrotica RE: purplescout Aug 11, 2011 02:05 PM

                                                  Glad you enjoyed Good Stuff. In my experience, decent burgers there are the exception and not the rule.


                                                  1. re: purplescout
                                                    Steve RE: purplescout Jan 30, 2012 11:32 AM

                                                    That sounds like the quite the concoction! I would never have thought to order it. Thanks for posting.

                                                    1. re: purplescout
                                                      mdpilam RE: purplescout Feb 9, 2012 08:43 AM

                                                      I finally made it out to Good Stuff, and tried the Obama Burger along with their cookies n cream shake (I'm a sucker for cookies n cream - plus, I had been craving a shake ever since I read about Jack in the Boxes new Bacon Shake). At first I was letdown by the size of the burger - it looked like an average fast food burger (by the picture on their website, I was expecting something more). But after biting into it I was convinced; it was pretty tasty. Great flavor combination, and the bacon was good and crispy and the burger was actually almost medium rare (which I asked for, but by his response, I didn't think I was going to get) and beefy and juicy. One of the problems I've run into with burgers here is that I get a gas grill taste in the meat, but this did not have that problem. One thing I didn't like was the bun though; it sucked. I could have found a better one at Giant. Oh, and the shake was great.

                                                      Having tried most of the "contenders" in the area, I think I would probably put Ray's in first still (best meat and value), but I'd put Good Stuff second. This is with the exception of Central's burger, which I don't think any burger should cost $20; so even though it was the best, I am omitting it. Next I'd probably put Black and Orange then Burger, Tap and Shake. Then Five Guys, Shake Shack and then BGR. I think that's all. Still want to try Palena Cafe's burger and Bobby's Burger Palace, though I don't have much hope for the latter.

                                                      1. re: mdpilam
                                                        agarnett100 RE: mdpilam Feb 9, 2012 08:54 AM

                                                        I have not tried Good Stuff Eatery but I still think Ray's Hell Burger is the best in town. It goes against my religion to spend $20 on a burger from Central I think my father would materialize and pimp slap me for such an expense.

                                                        1. re: agarnett100
                                                          MikeR RE: agarnett100 Feb 11, 2012 05:28 AM

                                                          I do a Ray's Hell Burger about once every 3-4 months. I was just in there yesterday and noticed that they've changed the menu a bit. Instead of just one burger, they now have two, The "Big Devil" original (was it always 10 oz? It is now) for $9.99 and a 1/3 pound "Little Devil" for $5.99. I decided to be good to myself and my wallet and try the small one.

                                                          Still good!

                                                          1. re: MikeR
                                                            Ziv RE: MikeR Feb 12, 2012 05:31 AM

                                                            Thanks for the heads up, Mike! I really love Rays but 10 oz. of burger is a bit much for this old guy. It takes me a week to work it off nowadays. I think I will stop by for a little devil Monday! Love those big Rays burgers but moderation is a virtue.
                                                            Wait a minute, you are saying that the 10 oz is $9.99 now? Wow, prices have skyrocketed! They used to be $6.99. That is too bad, but how come my Mom isn't getting more when she auctions her Angus yearlings in the fall? Some of her cattle have probably graced Rays table in the past. ;-)

                                                            1. re: Ziv
                                                              MikeR RE: Ziv Feb 12, 2012 06:53 AM

                                                              I've noticed that my "$5 lunches" have gone up about 25% in the past year. Much greater increase than the cost of living raise with my retirement pension.

                                                              Ten bucks for a burger that's too big is just too much to spend. I suppose some creative people can do things with a left over too-small piece of hamburger, but not me. When I make burgers at home, they're usually 6 to 7 ounces depending on how the package of meat divides up and that's about the right size for me for a dinner. For lunch, I'm content with a 5 Guys single with cheese and a handful of peanuts instead of their way too large orders of fries, and a cup of water. That still comes in at over $4 but I don't feel like I'm abusing myself too badly.

                                                    2. t
                                                      taoseno RE: theamusedbouche Jan 30, 2012 12:33 PM

                                                      I would like to add the burger at Againn under the non local chain of burgers best burger. it's not cheap but they also make the bacon in house.

                                                      1. d
                                                        drewpbalzac RE: theamusedbouche Feb 10, 2012 04:50 PM

                                                        Tried my first Shake Shack burger this week, pretty damn good burger. . . .

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: drewpbalzac
                                                          monkeyrotica RE: drewpbalzac Feb 11, 2012 05:11 AM

                                                          What's interesting about Shake Shack is that there's nothing particularly outstanding about it. Just quality ingredients prepared properly. So many places can't even pull that off; it's either sub-par meat or they press the hell out of it or it's flavorless tomatoes or bloated dough buns or some combination of the above. Here they give you decent meat cooked to order on a buttered potato roll. That's all any of us really want to begin with, unless you're into the whole seared fois gras and truffle mayo thing.

                                                        2. d
                                                          dcbbq RE: theamusedbouche Feb 11, 2012 08:37 PM

                                                          You are asking for two very different things -- the American specialty (a double at Five Guys - no question) or the best hamburger (Central or my favorite, the one at the bar at Teatro Goldoni (I'm a sucker for fried eggs) which is "only" $15 and comes with a galss of wine and very good fries.

                                                          I would go with 5 Guys in a heartbeat. That's America Also take her to Saints Paradise Cafeteria, whcih is an experience she has not had in Ukraine

                                                          1. s
                                                            skipper RE: theamusedbouche Feb 12, 2012 05:42 PM

                                                            It hasn't been mentioned yet, but we stopped by Hamburger Hamlet last night and I had a burger imbued with peppercorns. It also had blue cheese and was pretty darned good. Two ther people in our party also had burgers and were also well pleased. BTW, the sweet potato fries were really good too.

                                                            1. e
                                                              eatingoutdc RE: theamusedbouche Feb 13, 2012 12:09 AM

                                                              If any of my friends came to DC wanting a burger I'd take them to Five Guys. I don't care if it's fast food, it's soooo freakin good :-) I love Five Guys. I wish it wasn't so bad for me, because then I could justify going there more than once every 2 months.

                                                              Black and Orange in Dupont Circle is also decent.

                                                              I don't like Ray's, and wow I really detest "Good" Stuff Eatery. But to each their own.

                                                              I went to a place outside of Baltimore that had a really amazing Bison burger but I don't remember the name, and it's a little far out.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: eatingoutdc
                                                                dmvburgerwars RE: eatingoutdc Feb 13, 2012 07:01 AM

                                                                We asked ourselves this same question a year ago and we've spent that time eating as many burgers in the area as we can and judging them against each other. (our website, with rankings: dmvburgerwars.com) As far as the ultimate, quick burger joint goes--there are a couple great options out there and Five Guys is definitely among them. The only thing there is that now that Five Guys has spread so far through franchising, it's not uniquely a DC thing anymore.

                                                                Two other burger joint-type places that are worth mentioning:
                                                                - Fresh Grill (Bethesda)
                                                                - Burger Tap & Shake (Foggy Bottom)

                                                                ..but among our top-rated burgers is the often-overlooked Thunder Burger & Bar in Georgetown. Great burger and great location--especially for a visiting friend.

                                                                Thunder Burger & Bar
                                                                3056 M St, NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                                                Burger Tap & Shake
                                                                2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037

                                                                Fresh Grill
                                                                4905 Fairmont Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

                                                                1. re: dmvburgerwars
                                                                  MikeR RE: dmvburgerwars Feb 13, 2012 07:28 AM

                                                                  I've had very good burgers at Glory Days (the Fairfax/ Pan Am Shopping center one). Their $5 Burger Mondays have gone up to $5.50 (I wish I got a 10% cost of living raise to go along it it - Burgers are a cost of living, aren't they?) but it's still a great deal.

                                                                  I usually get the one with grilled onions and blue cheese, and they really know what "medium rare" is there. Just starting to get pink inside, with plenty of juice oozing out when you bite down.

                                                                  1. re: dmvburgerwars
                                                                    Mister Big RE: dmvburgerwars May 31, 2012 11:12 AM

                                                                    Sadly, Fresh Grill has been closed for three months due to construction next door. They might be gone permanently.

                                                                    I loved their burgers.

                                                                    1. re: Mister Big
                                                                      dmvburgerwars RE: Mister Big May 31, 2012 12:20 PM

                                                                      Yeah, it was really disappointing to see what happened there. Hopefully things can be ironed out or Fresh Grill can find another location -- it was definitely one of our best bang-for-the-buck burgers out there. Just went through a burger bracket on our site and it probably would have been a great Cinderella.

                                                                2. Dennis S RE: theamusedbouche May 31, 2012 09:03 AM

                                                                  Just having my first Good Stuff burger now. Prez Obama style.

                                                                  The burger is redeeming the place slightly (though I'm not a fan of the onion marmalade - do NOT mix savories and sweets....)

                                                                  I wasn't asked how I wanted the burger cooked, but I was asked if I wanted everything on it. I asked back about what that question meant, and the order taker said something along the lines of "the description on the menu". Well...um...yes. I ordered a specialty burger, right? If I had discreet ideas ahead of time you'd think I'd say them, right?

                                                                  Fries were something I was going to check out but I saw a full rack on a baking tray and decided not to have any of those.

                                                                  Meh. Good attempt, but meh.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Dennis S
                                                                    woodleyparkhound RE: Dennis S May 31, 2012 09:22 AM

                                                                    I like Good Stuff, but found the Obama burger disappointing also. I like the Farmhouse Cheese with chipotle mayo from the mayo bar. And I LOVE their shakes!

                                                                    1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                      shake N baik RE: woodleyparkhound May 31, 2012 11:54 AM

                                                                      Politics aside I have to defend the Obama burger because I thought the sweet onion marmalade paired with salty bacon and cheese is a great flavor combination. I find that the biggest problem with GSE is consistency whether its the doneness of the patty, soggy sides, disproportionate amount of toppings etc.

                                                                      As for Shake Shack, I've been getting their Shroom burger for years. Great crunch, flavor and better executed than GSE's version.

                                                                      1. re: shake N baik
                                                                        mdpilam RE: shake N baik May 31, 2012 12:03 PM

                                                                        I also liked the Obama burger, and overall I liked GSE (only been once), and yes, great shakes. I would place GSE in the "fast food" burger category (even though it might not be like a 5 guys conceptually, when I ate it, all I could think was this burger is the best fast food burger).

                                                                    2. re: Dennis S
                                                                      hamster RE: Dennis S May 31, 2012 10:34 AM

                                                                      Agreed that the burgers at Good Stuff are not always great, though I love the concept/toppings on the Blazin Barn burger (like a banh mi). Shakes are superb. I just tried Bobby's Burger Palace last week and was very impressed. Serving is huge, they definitely gave it to me medium-rare as ordered (or even too rare, actually), nice place to sit, etc.

                                                                      1. re: hamster
                                                                        dbirney RE: hamster May 31, 2012 11:32 AM

                                                                        I actually live in the building next to the CP one. Went there a few days after it opened and had the Santa Fe Burger. It was amazing. Been back a few times since and its been good but nothing like the first time.

                                                                        1. re: dbirney
                                                                          agarnett100 RE: dbirney May 31, 2012 11:59 AM

                                                                          I visited the CP location and had the Miami Burger it was okay nothing special. I did enjoy my black and white milkshake.

                                                                          1. re: dbirney
                                                                            woodleyparkhound RE: dbirney May 31, 2012 12:07 PM

                                                                            I had the same experience with the Philadelphia burger at Bobby Flay's in DC. The first time or two it blew my mind it was so great, then a massive decline in quality.

                                                                      2. t
                                                                        The Big Crunch RE: theamusedbouche May 31, 2012 02:03 PM

                                                                        From my experience...

                                                                        1. Quarry house Tavern in Silver Spring. I guess I'm a bit biased because I lived a few minutes from it for nearly eight years. My all-time favorite bar. The perfect neighborhood dive bar. Still, as unbiased as I can be, they make a hell of a good burger.

                                                                        2. BGR. The lamb burger is perfect and the standard burger is about as good as you'll get. Leave off the mojo sauce. My only problem is that the one I go to in Bethesda has a tendency to sometimes overcook the outside of the burger. Inside is usually good but sometimes it's too much char on the outside, which can leave an acrid taste.

                                                                        3. Urban BBQ in Rockville. Best ribs I've had in the area but the burger is also top notch.

                                                                        Maybe it was all the hype, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the Hellburger, granted, I had it at Ray's The Classics, but it's supposed to be the same product. I though there was actually too much meat. A burger, like any sandwich, sould be balanced. If I wanted a half-pound of chopped steak, I'd order that. I think the over-sizing of the patty throws things off. The best burgers, IMO are generally around 1/3 lb to 6 oz.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                                          MikeR RE: The Big Crunch Jun 1, 2012 07:43 AM

                                                                          Ray's has revised the size of the burgers. At Ray's Hell Burger, the "Little Devil" is 1/3 pound at $6, and there's ther "Big Devil" which is 10 oz, I believe the size of the original Hell Burger at $10. For me that's a little too small and too big.

                                                                          1. re: MikeR
                                                                            The Big Crunch RE: MikeR Jun 1, 2012 01:31 PM

                                                                            Cool to hear. There's certainly an air of subjectivity to this whole discussion, but to me, 1/3 a pound is perfect because it allows all the aspects of the burger to better blend in a more balanced manner. I didn't know Ray's was doing this now. I'll actually be down in Arlington this weekend so I may stop by for a Little Devil. Thanks for the heads up!

                                                                        2. alkapal RE: theamusedbouche Oct 25, 2012 05:55 PM

                                                                          ate at bgr on spout run @ lee hwy tonight. MOST. OVERRATED. PLACE. EVER.

                                                                          i've had better burgers at department store restaurants. even the angus burgers from harris teeter are better -- cooked on my foreman grill. (i ordered it medium, mr. alka got medium rare).

                                                                          and it was as loud as a bar, without any of the benefits.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: alkapal
                                                                            KeithW RE: alkapal Oct 25, 2012 06:00 PM

                                                                            Ray's is my runaway favorite, and I came away from my first visit to BGR unimpressed, but since then I've been several times and I've come to really like it. I like the simple burger more than the ones with all the additions. The one I've been to several times is in Springfield. If Ray's is a 9, I'd say it's a solid 8.

                                                                            Just weighing in. I've been a lunch time when it's not very crowded or loud, at least at that location.

                                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                                              monkeyrotica RE: alkapal Oct 26, 2012 03:35 AM

                                                                              Tried BGR in Old Town. I agree with your evaluation. I'm not much of a Five Guys fan, but the Five Guys around the corner is better. For me, Shake Shack blows them both away, particularly in the fries department.

                                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                                The Big Crunch RE: monkeyrotica Oct 26, 2012 11:49 AM

                                                                                I mostly agree. I've never understood the appeal of Five Guys, and I think the quality of burgers at BGR must vary from location to location. I've had better burgers than what I get at BGR, but all told, at least judging by the Bethesda location, they make some damn fine burgers. The lamb burger in particular is quite good.

                                                                                I do love Shake Shack, but the thing I honestly hate about them are the fries. They're flavorless and look EXACTLY like Ore-Ida frozen crinkle cut fries...which makes sense, since they are pre-made and frozen. I'll take Five Guys fries any day of the week, which would still not happen that much since, as I mentioned, I just don't care for their greasy burgers. That said, I tend to just leave off ordering fries with any burger I get these days. Unless the place has seriously amazing fries, I've reached that age where the calories and cholesterol are things I actually care about, so while I love to treat myself every now and then with a burger, the fries have just become too much extra unhealthy treat :(

                                                                                1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                                                  monkeyrotica RE: The Big Crunch Oct 28, 2012 05:45 AM

                                                                                  See, I like Shake Shack fries BECAUSE they're like Ore Ida frozen fries! The jagged edges have just the right crunchiness and since they're prefried, they're impossible to screw up. My Five Guys fries failure rate is 80/20. What is the point of "handcut fries" if you don't fry them twice properly at the right temperature? And what's the point of getting a couple pounds of them if they're steamed into a soggy mass in that cup/bag combo? Same problem with their burger; there's a reason why Shake Shack and In-N-Out half-wrap theirs in paper. Completely wrap a burger in foil and you have a steamy, soggy mess. Add their plain Wonder Bread doughy bun and you get a bloated, soggy disaster.

                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                                    The Big Crunch RE: monkeyrotica Oct 28, 2012 07:48 AM

                                                                                    I agree with some of that...a lot actually. Shake Shack fries are crunchy, but they also seem so completely flavorless as to be pointless calories. I agree about Five Guys fries - I've eaten there a half dozen or so times and they have always been mostly soggy, greasy, and limp. And I also agree about the burger. I know I'm an outlier in this thread, but I think Five Guys makes a terrible burger. It's just a wet, greasy, soggy mess that tastes like grease, salt, grease, a hint of overcooked meat, and grease.

                                                                                    I had one at Black and Orange a week or so back and was underwhelmed. Overly greasy, flavorless and somewhat stale bun, and I left the place smelling like a deep fat frier.

                                                                                    It hasn't been mentioned on here, but Black's in Bethesda used to make a terrific burger. I haven't been there in at least a year, so I don't know if that's still the case, but many years back, I used to go to their happy hour a fair amount and always loved that burger, as well as the shoe string fries.

                                                                            2. chowser RE: theamusedbouche Oct 26, 2012 10:27 AM

                                                                              Has anyone tried the new Smashburger in Fairfax?

                                                                              15 Replies
                                                                              1. re: chowser
                                                                                maypo RE: chowser Oct 27, 2012 05:32 AM

                                                                                Went there once.....great place.....

                                                                                1. re: maypo
                                                                                  chowser RE: maypo Oct 27, 2012 07:29 AM

                                                                                  Thanks. How does it compare to BGR or Rays, do you know? Is it worth driving half an hour for it?

                                                                                  1. re: chowser
                                                                                    DanielK RE: chowser Oct 27, 2012 09:42 PM

                                                                                    It's a chain, equivalent to 5 Guys or In'N'Out, started in Colorado.

                                                                                    No comparison to BGR or Ray's.

                                                                                    1. re: chowser
                                                                                      maypo RE: chowser Oct 28, 2012 07:19 AM

                                                                                      I thought Smashburger was better than BGR or Rays -- more comparable to Shake Shack...worth a try.

                                                                                      1. re: maypo
                                                                                        Steve RE: maypo Oct 28, 2012 07:50 AM

                                                                                        SO you are saying Shake Shack is better than Rays? Or are you saying Rays and Shake Shack are comparable?

                                                                                        1. re: maypo
                                                                                          mdpilam RE: maypo Oct 28, 2012 09:35 AM

                                                                                          Bold statement. I would take Ray's over any of those burgers. In fact, I'd take Ray's over probably any burger in the area, except Central's. (Still haven't had Palena's)

                                                                                          And I would not say that Five Guys and In n Out are similar.

                                                                                          1. re: mdpilam
                                                                                            The Big Crunch RE: mdpilam Oct 28, 2012 09:50 AM

                                                                                            I need to try Ray's since they added the smaller burger. I just don't dig half pound servings of ground meat.

                                                                                            1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                                                              agarnett100 RE: The Big Crunch Oct 29, 2012 08:04 AM

                                                                                              I think Ray's makes the best burger in the area under $10

                                                                                            2. re: mdpilam
                                                                                              chowser RE: mdpilam Oct 29, 2012 10:45 AM

                                                                                              I'd put Rays by far above other similar type places (not sit down restaurants). If I were driving half an hour for a burger, that's probably where I"d head. I'd put BGR far ahead of Five Guys but well below Rays. In N Out between Five Guys and BGR, closer to Five Guys. From the sounds of it, Smashburger isn't worth the half hour drive. And to get to Shake Shack, I have to pass Rays and I'd just stop there.

                                                                                              1. re: chowser
                                                                                                DanielK RE: chowser Oct 29, 2012 11:34 AM

                                                                                                I think you have it about right, chowser.

                                                                                                1. re: chowser
                                                                                                  agarnett100 RE: chowser Oct 29, 2012 11:58 AM

                                                                                                  Chowser I think you have it right and I always love the fact that you can feed four people from In N Out for less then $25.

                                                                                                  1. re: chowser
                                                                                                    mselectra RE: chowser Oct 29, 2012 01:50 PM

                                                                                                    But unfortunately In N Out is more than a half hour drive....

                                                                                                    1. re: mselectra
                                                                                                      chowser RE: mselectra Oct 29, 2012 03:37 PM

                                                                                                      Somewhat....but we visit California fairly frequently.:-)

                                                                                                      1. re: mselectra
                                                                                                        hill food RE: mselectra Oct 29, 2012 09:37 PM

                                                                                                        oh dang, for a moment there I actually thought there might be an I'n'O as close as oh, say, Reston.

                                                                                                        I'm really just slow.

                                                                                                        1. re: mselectra
                                                                                                          agarnett100 RE: mselectra Oct 30, 2012 06:58 AM

                                                                                                          I know its a crime I have been hooked on In n Out since 1984 when my family moved to LA.

                                                                                            3. 4
                                                                                              4X4 RE: theamusedbouche Oct 26, 2012 12:01 PM

                                                                                              Has anyone tried the Dorothy Moon burger truck? I've seen it outside my office occasionally, but haven't tried it yet.

                                                                                              1. ipsedixit RE: theamusedbouche Oct 29, 2012 03:22 PM

                                                                                                Since this thread has been resurrected, I'm going to add Cedar to the mix.

                                                                                                It's not only a good bargain, but a damn good burger made with dry aged beef.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                  Dreamworks RE: ipsedixit Oct 29, 2012 08:56 PM

                                                                                                  I'd also like to add Lost Society on U St for burgers. When cooked right (medium rare) this had one of my favorite burgers in the area.

                                                                                                2. r
                                                                                                  reedmd RE: theamusedbouche Oct 30, 2012 03:29 PM

                                                                                                  I had an incredible burger at Green Pig Bistro. The bacon cheeseburger incorporates bacon into the grind, and the cheese sauce somewhat resembles velveeta texturally, but it is house made, as is the bun. It's served simply, with a slice of white onion on the side, as well as a house made sweet pickle.
                                                                                                  Truly in the top five of all burgers I've eaten.

                                                                                                  The burger is just one of many excellent items on the menu, and it comes with fries or salad.

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