Now that my photography class is over, I feel the urge to get back to the reason we started this blog in the first place: FOOD. Food was unsurprisingly close to the top of the list of "pros" when we were considering moving back to D.C. from Denver, and there have been moments where reacquainting ourselves with the food scene here has been one of the few things that has kept us from getting in the car with a "Denver or Bust" mentality.
Let me preface this discussion with the fact that I, Jaimy, am not generally a burger person. It's not that I don't like a good burger, but I rarely CRAVE one. That is, I rarely craved one...until I went to Ray's HellBurger.
HellBurger is associated with Ray's the Steaks, one of Bret's most favorite steakhouses here in Arlington. HellBurger opened up a few doors down in the same plaza and with the same minimalist attitude toward menu and decor. They do a few things, but they do them very, very well. The burgers are made from the same ground up meat they use for the steaks....10 ounces of it per burger, to be exact. It's counter service, a la carte, and sometimes a challenge to find a table before your food comes. But despite all of the hassle, that first bite of burger is worth it. Lightly seasoned and grilled to medium rare (recommended temp) perfection, I have never experienced a juicier piece of meat. While Bret experiments with the extensive list of toppings, I stick to American cheese and pickles, because the burger itself tastes SO good that I don't want to cover it up. Add a mug of their locally brewed root beer, and a side of cheesy tater puffs, and I would choose HellBurger over many steaks I have had in my life (except my dad's steaks, and Bret's, and maybe Ruth's Chris).
So when I returned from a weekend out of town and Bret said a friend liked the EatBurger, which recently won a burger contest in D.C., at Tallulah/Eat Bar more than HellBurger, I was intrigued. We went there last night to conduct a formal investigation.
While you avoid the counter service hassle at Eat Bar, our experience last night was that the service was not much better for it. I ordered the same burger that I get at Ray's, for the sake of accurate comparison. My burger was slightly overcooked, but I was starving and not willing to wait for another one, and it looked surprisingly juicy despite the fact that it was closer to medium well than medium rare. The key to the EatBurger is that it is seasoned with onion and herbs and saturated with butter to produce a burger that is bursting with flavor and uber-juicy. I admit, it was pretty tasty....
But my vote is for HellBurger, all the way. I can see where one could prefer the herb flavor of the EatBurger, especially if you (gasp!) enjoy your burger a little closer to well done than we do, but that is a cop out to me. Ray's burger is all about the quality of the meat, and you can't get around that.