I just got back from my second trip to BGR, The Burger Joint next to the Italian Store. This place has a great hamburger. I thought I'd compare the two now that I have two favorites, the other being Ray's Hell Burger.
BGR serves all dry aged prime ground beef. It is very well seasoned and cooked perfectly, two for two now a perfect medium rare with a good char. At RHB, I don't know what the meat quality is. I think I read somewhere it is a mix of prime and choice. However it too is usually well seasoned. RHB is very inconsistent in its cooking. I always order medium rare and 50% of the time it comes out medium.
The bun is nice and holds up really well at BGR. I find the buns at Ray's Hell Burgers are too big and doughy right now.
The BGR fries are double fried and for 0.49 cents they will put some Parmesan cheese on them for you, which is delicious. The fries are fine at RHB. Bagged, frozen things but not inedible.
They also have very good rich chocolate shakes at BGR. For me, this is almost a must with a burger. RHB has delicious root beer floats, but chocolate shakes they are not.
The BGR ambiance is a bit weird. The music is a bit too loud and is annoying 70's and 80's hits, but the soccer moms were singing along. RHB as we all know has no ambiance.
The staff at BGR is really nice. The cashier recognized me the second time I went in and they are very friendly. I even talked to a couple cooks and they were cool. This is very different from RHB, (any of the Ray's really) where the staff is always aloof and you always feel like they are doing you a favor by serving you and tolerating you. This is obviously from Landrum's eccentric philosophy, but that is just kinda what you have to deal with if you want to eat at a Ray's. One time at RHB I asked if Landrum was cool to his staff and they told me "I don't know, he doesn't talk to us".
The sides are more extensive at RHB as well as the artisan cheeses. This doesn't really bother me personally as I think it is a waste of good epoisse to put it on a burger. I do like the sharp vermont cheddar at RHB. The one time I tried the foie gras burger it was too rich. I just took it off and ate it on the side, I didn't like the two meats together.
I have had a basic bacon cheddar burger and a wellington with bacon at BGR and really enjoyed both. Yes, both with chocolate shakes. I also like that parking is easier at BGR. I will probably be going there more than RHB for burgers. I will still be making Ray's the Steaks my default steakhouse. Might even go tonight.
Ray's Hell Burger
1713 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209
The Burger Joint
106 N Washington St, Alexandria, VA 22314