With summer nearing its end, I can’t think of a better send-off then the DC Burger Battle on August 24. At the Hill Country Backyard Barbecue space at the National Building Museum, nine restaurants gathered with tents, grills and a tremendous amount of meat to compete for the title of “Best Burger.”
The grand finale of the Buds and Burgers program, the Burger Battle capped off a summer of beer and burger specials and benefited local nonprofit SOME (So Others Might Eat), helping the poor and homeless in the District. Locals gathered around various tents to try delicious burgers from Due South, Hill Country, Bullfeathers, Blackfinn, Stoney’s on L, 201 Bar, b-DC Penn Quarter, Hard Rock Cafe, Rebellion and 10 Tavern.
Undoubtedly the competition was fierce, as the featured burgers offered distinct variations including turkey burgers, barbecue toppings, bacon jam and numerous kinds of gourmet cheese. By the end of the evening, attendees who paid $25 for the all-you-can-eat and all-the-Budweiser-you-care-to-drink fundraiser had picked their winner: b DC Penn Quarter.
“It’s the quality of the meat, not what you cover it up with,” b-DC Penn Quarter’s Brian Beauregard said. “We grind it in-house at our restaurants twice a day. We do a lot in-house, and that makes a difference when you take a bite. We like getting out in the community, and it’s an easy event to be part of.”
Though everyone was there to support a good cause, chefs were interested in the work of their peers. Despite the friendly atmosphere, cooks as good as these couldn’t help being a tad competitive when it came down to the taste of their food.
“It’s good exposure for our restaurant,” Rebellion owner Brian Westlye said. “Obviously, chefs are all competitive, even when they tell you they’re not. It’s a lot of fun to hang out on a beautiful night with all of your peers.”
The night also featured the musical talents of the Trailer Grass Orchestra and Justin Trawick and The Common Good. Throughout the event, people huddled up by the stage to groove to folk and bluegrass renditions of popular hits.
The night represented a microcosm of the American summer season: burgers on the grill, cold beer and great music that was easy to sing along to. Luckily for those involved, there was extra incentive to cooperate because of the cause, and the smiles formed along the way.
“It’s fun, it’s just fun,” 201 Bar Chef Michael Ellish said. “I like to see what everyone else is doing rather than just sitting in the kitchen in your own world. I like to see what other people consider a burger. It’s very universal, but it’s super rustic. It’s American.”
For more information about SOME, visit www.some.org.
10 Tavern: 707 G St. (second floor), NW, DC; www.10tavern.com
201 Bar: 201 Massachusetts Ave. NE, DC; www.201bar.com
b-DC Penn Quarter: 801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.burgersbeerbourbon.com
Blackfinn Ameripub: 1620 I St. NW, DC; www.blackfinnameripub.com
Bullfeathers: 410 First St. SE, DC; www.bullfeathersdc.net
Due South: 301 Water St. SE, DC; www.duesouthdc.com
Hard Rock Cafe: 999 E St. NW, DC; www.hardrock.com
Hill Country: 410 7th St. NW, DC; www.hillcountry.com
Rebellion: 1836 18th St NW, DC; www.rebelliondc.com
Stoney’s on L: 2101 L St. Suite #103, NW, DC; www.stoneysonl.com