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Epic Meals: Reimagining the Burger Experience

I love burgers. The whole meal: the fries, the shake, the perfectly seasoned patty is as traditionally American as food can get. While the United States has embraced the unique quality of food in the past several years and that has transcended to the burger as well. You can never really get over the perfect combination of a ground pattys cooked to order and fresh toppings. While traditionally those toppings were lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, cheese, ketch and mayo, chefs have become amazing adept at creating delicacies out of a food considered to be somewhat traditional and common. In the past several years, new life has been breathed into the American Burger.

DC is no stranger to palette that the burger can create. There are a plethora of ridiculously tasty burger spots in the district. My absolute favorite is Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington. This is the spot President Obama visited with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. There are a number of options, non of which can possibly disappoint. The saving grace of Ray’s Hell Burger is that it’s located outside the city, making it difficult to get to on a regular basis. Both my arteries and my jeans are thankful for this fact. If you’ve never been a traditional cheeseburger is never a bad option. But if you’re of a more adventurous bend I would highly recommend either the Big Punisher with charred jalapenos or the Fat Joe with truffle oil and Foie Gras. If you’re wondering this, Ray’s Hell Burger is owned by the same people who own Ray’s the Steaks. I’m a fan of the entire chain for the simple reason that they put such care and dedication into their food. Rumor has it, that the burgers at Ray’s Hell Burger are made from the excess beef cut off of pieces of Filet Mignon.

Ray’s Hell Burger: Original Creation

While Ray’s is my first love, I’ve been known to stray from time to time. While not a well publicized burger joint, the Red Palace churns out a delicious patty. The burgers are completely customizable, though the selections are pretty standard. Shake shack is also super tasty, but loses the local vote from me, being a chain. If I’m gonna go with a chain, I’m a 5-Guys girl all the way. Other than Ray’s my favorite place to get a burger is The Pig at 14th and N. I had the good fortune to go for brunch one day, and ordered the burger. I was one of the most delectable offerings I have ever had the pleasure of crossing my taste buds.  It was so tender it almost melted. Served with pork belly, cheddar, shaved onion, and Thai chili aioli, the burger at The Pig was the epitome of making the mundane gourmet. Every bite was an illicit love affair. Last but certainly not least, is a tasty spot called Quarry House in Silver Spring. Monday nights are 1/2 price burger nights, combined with an extensive whiskey list, Quarry House is quite the deal. The burgers are customizable, tasty, and humongous. Finishing a burger here is quite the accomplishment, making this my favorite after work beer spot.

While I fully endorse any opportunity to eat out, sometimes the best burgers are found at home. I rarely cook beef, but a post on Pintrist (burger inspiration), inspired me to attempt grilling with my landlord. The picture was a burger patty, stuffed with cheese, and wrapped in bacon; totally wrapped in bacon. The burger was completely covered in bacon. Being a scientist, I wanted to test the recipe with a couple of different cheeses: havarti and goat cheese. Putting the burger together was pretty easy. The patties were seasoned with salt, pepper, horseradish, and  sauce.

Epic Bacon Wrapped Burgers: Step by Step

For sides we had a bit of spaghetti squash served with grilled jalapenos. The jalapenos were stuffed with a goat cheese, garlic, mustard mixture, wrapped and bacon. They were then put on the grill and charred until the bacon was done. This was one of these meals what was tastily decadent. We were so proud of ourselves.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno: Step by Step

Epic Bacon Wrapped Burger: The Final Product

In the past few years, I’ve seen people put every thing  from kim chi to peanut butter on their burgers. I’ve heard of buns made out of grilled cheese and donuts. And I’ve heard of burgers made out of venison and boars meat. They are the new canvas waiting for every culinary artist to paint a picture over people’s taste buds. My dad used to put a bit of pickle juice on his burgers that created a complex depth of flavor. I’ve never been able to recreate his recipe no matter how many times I’ve experimented. My brother puts butter and bourbon on his burger. I have a friend who puts Siraracha, jalapeno, and soy sauce in the actual burger mix; it is nothing short of magical. I’d love to hear how others make their perfect burger and branching out from the traditional toppings into the exotic, taking risks, and churning out gastrointestinal dreams.


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