It’s no secret that the D.C. area is currently enjoying a love affair with burgers. Several chains – and not just of the fast-food variety – have opened burger joints in the area. Some of those chains even got their start here. And more burger spots are cropping up, with local chains expanding and national purveyors setting their sights on this metropolitan region.
BGR: The Burger Joint has situated half of its dozen D.C.-area eateries in Northern Virginia, all boasting the chain’s signature prime beef patties, dry aged for a robust taste and tender texture and grilled on an open flame.
While Falls Church isn’t home to a BGR, the nearest is mere miles down Lee Highway in the Lyon Village shopping center.
The restaurant’s interior, fitting with the fun and casual fare it serves, reads like a love letter to pop culture. The tables, each topped with ample napkins for juicy burgers and condiments for fries, feature tile mosaics of characters from “The Simpsons” and a vintage MTV logo. A row of throwback album covers runs the length of the walls. And music can be heard pumping into the narrow dining room, interspersed with diner-style calls from the counter back into the kitchen in house lingo for fries and burgers.
Next to the counter is a chalkboard listing the standard menu eats. Besides it in frames are the month’s featured burger and shake. This month it’s Butter Pecan for the shake and Thanksgiving on a Bun for the burger, a turkey burger topped with some of the holiday’s staples sides (cornbread stuffing, cranberries, and gravy).
The basic burger here is simply called “The Burger.” That beef patty on a bun will set you back $6.99, but it functions best as a building block for a do-it-yourself creation. An extra patty can be added for an extra $2.99 more, but the single patty is already a hefty serving of meat. (There’s also a nine-pound burger on the menu, which tops 15 pounds when all the toppings are added, but you have to call ahead.)
The basic toppings are free – lettuce, tomato, onion, house sauce, pickles – and add-ons such as cheese, thick-cut Applewood bacon, and avocado have a small extra charge. The potential for gourmet burger-making is there, especially with the mushroom topping ($1.99 extra). The thick gravy of caramelized onion, roasted mushrooms, and black truffles is the basis of the Wellington ($8.99), listed on the menu under Masterpieces (and rightfully so). Blue cheese crumbles melt into a creamy spread over the patty, blending with the rich mushroom gravy for a big flavor that still doesn’t detract from the beef – which is a good thing, because it’s the beef patty here that will make one-time visitors return customers. The burgers are cooked to order, and a bite into the fire-seared rare patty here reveals an unabashed flush of red meat so tender that the texture is almost velvety. And the taste is just an honest, fresh beef flavor.
While the menu may seem to only have eyes for beef, it casts flirty glances at other varieties of meat, too. BGR offers a turkey burger; a ground lamb burger served with toppings like tzatziki sauce and feta cheese; and a sushi-grade ahi tuna piece stacked with pineapple and teriyaki sauce. For non-meat eaters, there’s a veggie patty made in-house with rice, beans, oats, and molasses.
A quartet of delicious sides – thick-cut onion rings, standard and sweet potato fries, and even grill-charred asparagus – make a meal of these burgers, and thick hand-spun shakes (in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors) are ready to wash them down.
With a market saturated in burger offerings, it’s difficult and necessary for a restaurant to set itself apart. But with its quirky nods to ’80s and ’90s pop culture and full-on embrace of quality beef, BGR stands out.
BGR: The Burger Joint is located at 3129 Lee Highway, Arlington. For more information, call 703-812-4705 or visit bgrtheburgerjoint.com. Restaurant hours are Monday: – Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.