In the final four matchup of the Halftime 2014 Burger Bracket, Thunder Burger and Bar went head to head with Burger Tap & Shake for the chance to battle for the title of best burger in DC. The two restaurants had very different feels. Burger Tap & Shake, a more casual establishment located in Foggy Bottom, is perfect for a quick bite to eat. Thunder Burger, located on M Street, is slightly more formal, but still maintains a rock and roll vibe, complete with sleek dark wood floors, studded leather window treatments, and classic rock playing in the background.
The atmosphere at Thunder Burger invites you to share laughs, watch sports, and eat burgers with friends and loved ones in its cozy, comfortable rustic environment. The furniture with swanky red velvet booths gives it a chic city vibe, in addition to the variety of unexpected flavor pairings to feed any burger connoisseur’s hunger for an imaginatively crafted burger.
The Pig in a Cow Suit was just that. Imaginative and unexpected, the average beef patty is topped with barbeque pulled pork, sharp cheddar, crispy onions, and a house remoulade sauce. This refreshing twist on a classic burger was flavorful, juicy, and had just the right balance of rock and roll inspiration and traditional succulence of the American-style burger.
Each part of the burger was just as strong as the whole. The bun was soft, yet sturdy, successfully keeping all of its goodness packed inside. Unique to the Pig in a Cow Suit, the tenderness of the pulled pork and crunch of the crispy onions atop added to the overall enjoyment of the burger. The thick and juicy beef patty was the proper foundation–quality and flavor cooked to a perfect medium temperature. Even until the last bite, the creativity and comfort of Thunder Burger’s Pig in a Cow Suit defends its place in the burger bracket admirably. However, the relatively expensive price diminishes its overall value. The enjoyable experience and quality of ingredients still may not be worth the $15 burger price tag.
The presentation, while not spectacular, was sufficient for the size and quality of the burger. On a simple, slender white plate the burger is served with a petite silver bucket filled with fries. The simplicity of presentation lets the burger’s look and taste do the talking. Fortunately, they can speak for themselves.
Situated right near the Foggy Bottom metro station, Burger Tap & Shake’s decor is similar to that of many of the trendy burger restaurants around DC. A mural of George Washington covers the wall, mirroring its proximity to part of the GW University campus.
Burger Tap & Shake’s house burger comes with your basic lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and “government cheese” as its playfully called on their menu. Their AP sauce, a blend of Mayo, Ketchup, BBQ, Mustard and Chipotle sauces, added a twist to this fairly standard burger. The meat, though adequately juicy, left something to be desired.
The presentation of the burger was exceptional and completely deserving of top marks. Upon receiving the burger we were thoroughly impressed by its almost krabby patty-like perfection. The shiny, albeit slightly soggy bun held in each topping with care, perfectly assembled to make one delicious looking burger.
The toppings are where Burger Tap & Shake really shined. While ordering we forgot to hold the pickles, a grave error considering we hate pickles. However, rather than disdainfully picking them off we decided to give them a try and were delightfully surprised. The pickles did not overpower the entire burger as they are wont to do. Instead, they worked in harmony with the rest of the the burger and thawed our pickle-hating hearts.
Although the burger was $6, ordering was a la carte, so a full meal, including the $3 fries and a shake, will run you about $14-$16. Although still a good value, the meal was more expensive than expected, considering the disappointingly small 5$ shake.
Thunder Burger and Bar was the clear winner. Although Burger Tap and Shake put up a good fight, it couldn’t compete with the inventive, juicy flavor of Thunder Burger and Bar’s Pig in a Cow Suit. On to the championship round!