Dupont Circle Burger Crawl

8 Aug

One of my original DC friends is moving to New York and to send her up north in style we decided to sample our neighborhood’s finest burger joints. The Dupont burger crawl was born out of the fact that we loved to meet for lunch at various burger emporiums throughout the city, and finally decided to put them head to head in a ground meat death match.

Burger crawl participants eagerly awaiting their final burger at Black and Orange

What originally started out as a modest group of 3 friends ballooned into 12 people participating in a meat lovers march.

We decided to dine at 3 establishments: BGR, Shake Shack and Black and Orange (formerly Rogue States). The rules were simple – order your ideal burger to share or horde depending on your hunger level, and dig in. After each stop the group caucused to discuss the pros and cons of each patty. Our evaluations were based purely on the burger. Accessories such as fries, milkshakes and spirits were consumed but not evaluated to keep the judging fair.

The categories for judging are as follows, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest:

  • Bun – Is the bread tasty?
  • Toppings – Are the extras fresh?
  • Burger – Is the meat cooked to my liking? Juicy? Flavorful?
  • Ambiance – Is this a fun place to hang out or is it like Five Guys at 3am on a Saturday night? (not that I have been…)
  • Sum of its parts – This category is less quantifiable but the most important. Everyone knows that a good burger hinges on all the ingredients coming together to form a tasty meal that is more than just a few ingredients on a bun.

First Stop – BGR

BGR is the grand doyenne of Dupont burger palaces. It was one of the first to lay claim in my neighborhood and to this day it is still one of the best. The burgers are BIG and very juicy and can be configured in a variety of styles, sauces or proteins (turkey burger, pulled pork, etc.) To make the comparisons easiest, I went for the simplest burger and split it with a friend to keep an open mind and relatively open stomach.

Hello baby

I like my burgers medium rare and this particular sandwich was cooked perfectly. The bun was tasty, the lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions were all fresh and crisp. It was extremely hearty and though I was temped to eat more than my half, I didn’t want to have an angioplasty at the age of 25 so I stopped myself. One thing to note that in the early days of BGR the restaurant was insanely smokey but they have fixed this problem and hanging out inside was a delight. I also enjoyed the neat buzzers that let me know when your burger is ready.

Second Stop – Shake Shack

Shake Shack opened at the beginning of the summer to much fanfare and thus far it has not disappointed. I always order the single Shack burger which I view more as a snack than a full meal.

Come to mama

Full disclosure: I got my own burger but in the interest of the greater quest, did not finish it and donated it to my friend who showed up late. The bun is buttery and the shake sauce is a powerful weapon. The burger is on the thinner side and points are docked because you cannot order it medium rare – just medium, rare or well done (blasphemy!)

Nevertheless, there is something about the Shack burger that is indescribable, but for those that have not had it the closest description I can give it is that it melts in your mouth. It reminds me of Webber’s, a drive-in near my house in Philadelphia that was always a treat growing up, although Shake Shack is even better because I don’t have to go to New Jersey to get my burger. I really enjoy the design of Shake Shack as well, particularly my ability to watch the burgers being made assembly-line style.

Third Stop – Black and Orange

Black and Orange was originally called Rogue States, but changed it after a protracted legal battle with law firm Steptoe & Johnson almost put them out of business. Apparently lawyers don’t enjoy the smell of burgers wafting into their $1,000/hour offices…FOOLS!  A more apt name change might have been Black and Blue because I can still taste the bitterness, legal fees and frustration in the burger. I was excited to make it the final leg on our burger crawl since I had not been back since the restaurant reopened. Unfortunately I was disappointed.

What a let down

The bun tasted like cardboard, the meat was dry and toppings cost extra. I know you have to pay your lawyers but sheesh, cut me some slack! I didn’t even finish my burger half, and I was still plenty hungry. ‘Nuff said.

The Results

Ultimately it came down to two very strong competitors and a distant third that was barely in the running.

My personal favorite was Shake Shack due to the aforementioned melt-in-your-mouth combination.

However, BGR is delicious and a close second. It really comes down to whether you are in the mood for a big juicy burger or the backyard burger of your dreams. Either way you can’t lose and luckily I live within easy walking distance to both establishments. All in all, the burger crawl was a great way to send off a wonderful friend in style, albeit with slightly elevated cholesterol. I’ll miss you Kate!

If all that red meat made you want to get a colonic, check out my earlier review of Dupont salad joints.

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