Tag Archives: burgers

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Dino: The Best Burger in DC?

It began with a simple comment.  My friend Amanda mentioned that she hadn’t found a great burger in DC (especially when compared with NY).  Hmmmm. When I got home I googled “Best burgers in DC.”  Meanwhile, it occurred to me that I hadn’t eaten a burger in something like eight months — a serious dry spell that was now weighing heavily.  I googled some more.  Came across this cool blog, Finding the Best Burger in DC Metro Area, and emailed a few people to see what they thought of the list.

The weather turned frigid. Suddenly my interest in burgers morphed into an intense, unstoppable yearning. Nothing, and I mean nothing, sounded better. At home I was cooking with my usuals of kale and farro and beans, but dammit, I wanted a juicy honkin’ burger.

Then I stumbled upon the Uptown Girl’s Cleveland Park Blog and her post, “The Burger at Dino.”

A) The burger looked phenomenal.  B) Dino is located in my neighborhood!  A burger of this caliber was right down the street??!  Case closed. That burger would be mine.

And so it was.

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I’ll give you the description straight from Dino’s menu:

10 oz local Roseda Farms Burger on grilled ciabatta w/baby greens ~ Prairie Breeze Cheddar & anchovy, Sriracha aioli ~ house pickle relish

No hormones, growth stimulants or sub~therapeutic antibiotics! ~ MD/DE/VA/PA grown ~ Carefully controlled genetics + whole veggie & grass diet based diet make for tasty beef

For toppings I added North Country Smokehouse bacon and caramelized onions. My friend Liz went with bacon and gorgonzola.

Let’s take another look.

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With two hands firmly gripping the warm ciabatta, and leaning in so as not to get the impending explosion all over my shirt, I went in for the bite.

WHOA.

“It’s so juicy!” we both exclaimed. Indeed it was. Burger drippings everywhere, onions and crisp bacon falling, oozy cheddar spilling off the sides. It was so good that I skipped the ketchup; I just wanted to taste the full flavor of the beef and all the rest.

That eight month burger drought?  Over. And worth it.

I’m hardly the expert on DC burgers, so I’ll leave it up to others to determine Dino’s standing in the hierarchy.  But it’s got to be among the best in the District. What could other restaurants possibly do better?

Dino
3435 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC
202-686-2966

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Z-Burger: Reunited with a Lost Love

From the moment my boss announced that she would be treating us to Z-Burger for lunch today, I’ve been wallowing in two emotions: guilt and rabid anticipation. Guilt, because of my general thoughts on meat-eating, and rabid anticipation, because it’s been ages since I’ve had a burger, and my god was I craving one in the worst way.

The object of my affection, a double burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and mushrooms.

Plus heaping orders of fries and onion rings for everyone.

Objectively I can’t even really comment on the quality of the burger.  For all I care it could have been ground beef slapped between two pieces of shoe leather and I probably would have proclaimed it the best thing ever.  All I know is my level of enjoyment for this thing shocked and amazed me. And whatever’s in that “Z-sauce” that comes on the side, it’s working.

My co-workers and I were all standing there eating, and I was desperately trying to conceal my creepy sounds of food ecstasy, but a few slipped out, despite myself.  I’m afraid the scene looked something like this.

Couldn’t help it. You can eat all the lentil burgers, veggie burgers, or soy burgers you want… nothing replaces the taste of the real thing. And because I hadn’t had one in so long, I appreciated it that much more.

Oh, burger, how I’ve missed you. You’ll always have a place in my heart.  It may be a while before we cross paths again, but I promise it’ll be special when we do.

Z-Burger
1101 4th St. SW
Washington, DC
202-599-0400

Birdsall House: I May Have Met the Cow That Became This Burger

Eating a burger at Birdsall House was the next logical step after visiting Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortlandt Manor. I’d shot a video about the farm; I’d observed the cows up close as they grazed and lounged in the shade.  Hell, I’d even stepped in their cow flops.

Now, I was about to bite into a burger made from Hemlock Hill beef.  Had I been face to face with the steer who’d given up his life to become this hefty, juicy patty? The thought kept crossing my mind. It was a reassuring thought, that I knew exactly where my meat was coming from, and had a semblance of understanding about how the animal lived.

I don’t mean to get all pseudo-deep here; just really liked that the beef was local, is all.

Anyway, I was at Birdsall House for lunch with Katherine Curry and her friend Darryl.  All three of us ordered burgers, but we started with a plate of pulled pork nachos.

And a bowl of soft, creamy polenta. I know it’s just glorified grits, but I’m really beginning to develop a taste for the stuff.

(Side note on polenta: a reader named Christine emailed the best suggestion a few weeks ago when I could only eat soft foods: Make a batch of polenta, spread it on a dinner plate and let it cool, then slice it up like a pizza. Pan fry the pieces in a little olive oil until crispy, and top with sauteed broccoli rabe and garlic, grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes. Phenomenal.)

And now, the burger.

Birdsall House adds several nice touches to their burgers. First, the fries are excellent.  Then there are the accoutrements: a porter and caraway mustard, and a homemade ketchup that has a unique tang to it, almost like sauerkraut.  A small pile of caramelized onions comes on the side, as do a few slices of pickled carrots. And the bun is whole wheat.  Nice.

None of this takes the focus away from the star of the show though, the Hemlock Hill beef.  I took a very substantial bite and mmm, good.  The beef was… beefy. (I can’t think of any other way to describe it.)  But do you know what I mean? Some burgers don’t taste like much of anything without the condiments. The flavor of the beef itself is muddled and muted.  But this burger — there was a definite presence; it tasted like beef.

I just wish I had ordered mine cooked medium, rather than medium-well.  I guess with everything I’ve read, I’ve become leery of seeing pink in my burger.  We discussed this at the table and a good point was made: that one of the reasons to eat locally and from small farms is so that you can feel safer about your food and enjoy it without hesitation.  So, yes, I should have ordered it medium.

And don’t forget the beers.  The list of local craft beers looks very interesting.  Laura De Maria of Hemlock Hill Farm said it best when referring to Birdsall House: “If you had a beer and a burger, it’d be a great combination.”

Birdsall House
970 Main St.
Peekskill, NY
914-930-1880

Lunch Chowdown at Bridge View Tavern

Year two of the rousing success that is the Sleepy Hollow Triathlon.  More importantly to readers of a food blog, year two of a fun post-race lunch.

Last year we hit J.P. Doyle’s in Sleepy Hollow; this time venturing further down Beekman Ave. to Bridge View Tavern — on the short list of restaurants I’ve been wanting to try.

This pic is horrible — it’s from street level, so the eyesore of a fence made it in. You’ll have to take my word for it that the actual Tappan Zee view from inside is quite nice.

The restaurant opens at 11:30am on Sundays.  We arrived at 11:20.  Ten minutes of loitering.

A warm and inviting dining room, full of dark wood and windows looking out towards the bridge.

I’m not positive what everyone ordered, but I saw clam chowders, massive salads, burgers and pastas. Very generous portions at Bridge View.

I believe this was Phoebe’s soft shell crab scampi special.

I don’t know what my problem is, but after a race my mind fixates on a big, honkin’ burger, and I zeroed in on the Smokehouse: 10 oz of juicy ground beef, caramelized onions, cheddar, bacon and BBQ sauce, sidled up against a huge stack of fries, pickles, sliced tomato and coleslaw.  And in the upper right of the picture a rich, caramel-y Brooklyn Brown Ale.  Beer and a burger.  That constitutes the perfect lunch.

Congrats to everyone who raced Sleepy Hollow, and thank you to those who came out to cheer.  We had a blast.  See you next year!

Bridge View Tavern
226 Beekman Ave.
Sleepy Hollow, NY
914-332-0078

A Burger Pit Stop at Poppy’s in Beacon

I often forget this — and maybe it’s because so much of the population is concentrated in the southern tip — but New York is a vast, vast state.  Get up north a bit and it’s wide open with rolling hills, pastures and farmland.

I was up near Albany this weekend; the Taconic would have been the most picturesque way to go, but I-84 to I-87 wasn’t too shabby either.  Of course, I can’t drive anywhere without doing at least some food exploration, and on this trip I made two stops — one in New Paltz, the other in Beacon.

In New Paltz I popped in to The Village TeaRoom, a restaurant and bake shop right off of Main St.  The outside looks like a quaint little farmhouse.

Grabbed a tasty oatmeal, apricot and almond scone for the road. It was very flaky and crumbly and ended up all over my lap in the car.

Beacon is a river town north of Cold Spring off of I-84.  Might be best known for its Dia:Beacon art museum, and I’ve also read about the revitalization of the downtown, which includes new restaurants like this one: Poppy’s Burgers and Fries.

Not a ton of seating at Poppy’s — I counted three tables. They must do a lot of take-out?  There’s also a pinball machine.

The owner (real nice guy) told me they’ll have a beer and wine license in a few weeks. In the back is an outdoor space being remade into a beer garden that’ll be ready by Memorial Day .

But let’s get to those burgers and fries. What stands out about Poppy’s are its ingredients; the beef is from nearby Kiernan Farm and is 100% organic and grass fed.  The produce too, is local and organic.  The quality is reflected in slightly higher prices, but I have a feeling you won’t mind.

Here’s my order of the hand-cut fries.  You can’t see it, but this was a small, and the serving was huge.  A large would probably suit four people, easily.

My “Classic Big” burger with lettuce and tomato: two 1/4 beef patties, raw milk cheese, diced red onion and a side of pickles.

I wasn’t asked how I wanted my burger cooked, and it didn’t occur to me to specify. The patties arrived cooked through (no pink at all), so maybe that’s just how they serve them.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m able to point out the specific differences of the grass fed beef, but I will say this: the burger is worthy of a heap of praise. It’s substantial, requiring two hands to maneuver; it’s flavorful, well balanced and screams of freshness; the raw milk cheese is killer; the meat, though cooked well done, isn’t at all dry.  In fact, the whole burger is explosively juicy.

Rather eye-opening that this unassuming place, in this out-of-the-way city, is cranking out burgers like this.  Some reviewers on Yelp claim that Poppy’s is superior to NYC’s Shake Shack, and I know people who worship at the altar of Shake Shack.

So, if you find yourself driving to Albany from Westchester, or you’re simply a burger aficionado, I suggest you drop in at Poppy’s.  Let me know what you think.

The Village TeaRoom
10 Plattekill Ave.
New Paltz, NY
845-255-3434

Poppy’s Burgers and Fries
184 Main St.
Beacon, NY
845-765-2121