We are fresh off a smashing successful lunchtime visit today to the BGR outpost in Bethesda (4827 Fairmont). BGR is one of a half dozen or so new DC-area burger places; burgers are second only to cupcakes in terms of oversaturation around here. The key is to know which ones are actually best. BGR has been among the more lauded new burger joints by the usual suspects, so we decided to see for ourselves. It’s not a huge place, but pretty cool, decorated with vintage rock album covers, tables designed in colorful mosaics of rock and pop culture — we sat at the Pop Rocks table.
In general, we agree: BGR makes a great burger. Mrs. Me said “this is the best burger I have had in a long time” at about the halfway point, and hadn’t changed her mind at all by the end. We both got a basic burger with lettuce, tomato, cheese (american me, blue her), I added bacon and she added onion. All the vegetables were fresh and bright and good; the brioche bun was lightly grilled; the burger was exactly medium-rare, as requested (plenty of burger places have trouble getting that right), and incredibly flavorful — grill, pepper, and mostly just high-quality beef. Bacon was crispy and good. All the textures were exactly the way we like them. My only quibble is with the cheese, which was not even slightly melted, clearly had been thrown on top at the last minute.
They have several other burger varieties, but the regular old burger is so good I don’t know if I’d bother trying anything more exotic. The fries are thick-cut, real potato, and pretty good, though not as good as Five Guys, and less than half as voluminous at about the same price. The perfect about of fries would be somewhere in between BGR and FG, I think.
I know some people object to Five Guys’ insistence on well-done burgers, but I don’t; even so, IMO the BGR burger is clearly superior to FG’s, but it is also about twice as expensive, and I’m not sure it is twice as good. How much better? 50%? More? Difficult to put a number on it. It is almost as good as Palena’s burger, which is twice as expensive as BGR, and of course a totally different experience. If I lived or worked closer to BGR I would certainly return soon, but since I work blocks from FG, that will be my more frequent burger procurement facilitator.
A great burger place, by the way, is one of Wheaton’s few culinary failings, the others being great pizza and fine dining. We’re not ready for fine dining, socioeconomically, but there’s no reason a great pizza place or burger place couldn’t be a wild success in downtown Wheaton. BGR? Five Guys? Pete’s Apizza? Ella’s? Wheaton does have pizza, but it’s either big chains and/or terrible (so terrible I won’t even name names for fear of cursing myself). Wheaton also has McDonalds and Wendy’s, which have their place, but I’m hoping that as the downtown area revitalizes (assuming that actually happens), maybe some BGR/Five Guys-class restaurants will move in.