Friday, June 25, 2010

Battle of the Burgers, Two Years Later

If the line at Ray's Hellburger wasn't too long before, it sure will be now. Thus, it is time to step out of my burger comfort zone and find some shorter burger lines. (see footnote 1) It is time for Burger Battle II. This round included the (relatively) new Arlington locations of local chains BGR and Elevation Burger. Elevation Burger moved into one of my favorite strip malls, the Lee Harrison Shopping Center (at, you guessed it, Lee Highway and Harrison) in North Arlington, within the last year; and BGR The Burger Joint just opened it's first Arlington location in the Lyon Shopping Center (the crazy crowded one at Lee Highway and Spout Run Parkway).

At Elevation Burger, I was delighted by the flavor of the burger, a little underwhelmed by the shake, and wanted to marry the fries. The meat and cheese here is organic, and it definitely makes for better flavor. Not just organic, grass fed and free-range (those aren't just farming terms; meat really does taste better this way). The burger runs on the small side here (you can add extra patties), so perhaps not the best value. Lunch is a better bet for feeling full. (Full disclosure: I was pregnant on my first stop here, so ravenously hungry. When we returned for lunch with a then six month old, I found the size more satisfying.). The shake - ehh - perhaps the ice cream (strawberry) did not have enough fruit, because all I tasted was sugar and milk. It's okay though, the fries made up for it. Shoestring cut, they are cooked in olive oil, and are heaven. C, whose taste in fries tends towards the steak fry variety, also liked them.

At BGR, it's best for me to order from home and pick it up. The smell of that place is intoxicating. Grease + garlic = nostril heaven. I should admit, first off, that I've not had the classic burger. C has, and he liked it, but there are very few burgers he has met that he hasn't liked - actually, scratch that, I can't think of any. On our first stop, I had the Greek (lamb burger with tzatziki and feta), which is fabulous. Balancing out the grease, I ordered the asparagus fries (tossed in parmesan), which are also very, very good. C had the onion rings, also very, very good (nice crispiness). For our return, I was trying to be (kinda) good, so ordered the veggie burger and sweet potato fries. C had the Southwestern (peppers and mojo sauce) and classic fries. I adore the sweet potato fries - double fried like the classic fries - both versions perfectly crispy and with lots of potato (or sweet potato) flavor. I did not, however, enjoy the veggie burger. It tastes like baked beans, and no, I do not mean that in a good way. C, on the other hand, was in love with his Southwestern, a pretty ideal burger for him. By far, however, our most successful stop-in at BGR was for shakes, specifically the strawberry and chocolate-covered strawberry (the May special). SO DELICIOUS - I may never need to get ice cream again, just shakes - No, I don't really mean that, but they were super good.

So, who wins? Both have their respective strengths; Elevation - burger goodness; BGR: variety, and obviously, shakes. Fries are a draw - both are fantastically delicious, but in different ways. I have to give the nod to BGR because it is a much better value. But, it's a close call. I'll be sampling both again.

(footnote 1) - ***SPOILER: There is judgment involved here, I admit it. So, stop here if you just wanted to read about delicious burgers.*** It continues to shock me how long lines can be at burger joints. BGR and Elevation, while yes, tasty, are local chains with multiple locations. But, just like Good Stuff and Ray's, they too are always crowded. As I've mentioned before, there is hardly a shortage of burger boutiques (this leads to footnote 2) in the metro area, yet people are still flocking in droves. For me, a burger is a treat, saved for special occasions. I'm hardly a model for always eating right, but moderation folks, moderation!

(footnote 2) - After two years, can we maybe jump on a new trend, or maybe not even a trend, just something other than burgers? (Or artisan pizza; though delicious, we have enough of that too). Richard Blais (whom I adore - loved [sadly, I think it's now past tense] Home in Atlanta), for instance, recently tweeted about opening a flipburger in DC. Is that really what we need, Richard? Let's think outside of the box a little. Perhaps, as some fellow cohorts and I were recently discussing, a downtown noodle house, Jewish Deli, or a bakery for that matter (with bread, not cupcakes). We welcome the additions to our restaurant frontier, but let's look at the needs that are under-served rather than band-wagoning (sp?). #I'm Just Saying.


Washington Woman said...

BGR in Old Town is never super crowded and you can always get a seat. The staff is also super friendly, it was always the same two guys working everytime we went. I agree about the burger trend, it seems even the big time guys are opening burger joints - Bobby Flay, Jean-Georges, the list goes on. I would much prefer to see their creative love used elsewhere. So Volt brothers - no Volt burgers, ok??

iEatDC said...

I understand completely. I love burgers, but I try not to eat them too often for obvious health reasons. I want more variety! Who needs a zillion burger options in such a small area? I also LOVED the May shake at BGR, as well as the pumpkin pie flavor from a fall month. Key Lime (June) isn't for me, but I suppose there's still chocolate. Confession: I've had more shakes at BGR than I've had burgers.

Manimal said...

Agreed, BGR tops Elevation Burger. Love the actual ingredients at Elevation, but price + portions + flavor = a better meal at BGR. You also have to like the nod to locals, like the Strasburger that generated so much good press for them.

W. Mark Felt, Sr. said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. Perhaps numbers (yes, those from Seattle still count despite your relative humidity) will lead to better dining variety. For now, I'll have to watch John Stewart's obesity satire (I think it was Tuesday's episode). Funny, but it's hard to laugh with such a clearly attention-needing subject matter.

Manimal said...

Tried the Key Lime shake right at the of June...amazing! Can't wait to try the Peach flavor in July!