In historic Georgetown, amidst martini bars, watering holes for the local college students and dozens of shops & restaurants, there lies an easily-overlook-able entrance for Thunder Burger & Bar. It's a place that looks like it could be the lovechild of a gothic biker bar and a gourmet restaurant, and they're there serving up organic, legit wild game offerings.
Thunder Burger & Bar describes themselves as "an edgy, rock & roll dining experience," that proudly serves an array of "appetizers, refreshing salads, creative entrees and decadent , home-made desserts." Their menu has everything from their namesake burgers--made from premium all-natural, free-range beef, bison, elk, boar and turkey--to foie gras, jumbo crab cake and ahi tuna sandwiches, fish & chips, to house-made falafel burgers. Add in the 24 beers on tap (including mircobrews) and "fine whiskeys," the musical soundtrack playing anything from Alice in Chains to Weezer and the late night menu offered every evening, and it's easy to see how this place easily differentiates itself from all its nearby competitors.
This was actually the second time our group had made the trip to Thunder Burger & Bar together. The first had been under maybe not the most optimal circumstances at the tail end of a 30th birthday party, so we wanted to make the return trip to Thunder Burger just to see if it really was as fantastic as we had collectively remembered.
We arrived at Thunder Burger on a late Saturday afternoon, eager and more prepared to try the burger than before. After quickly being seated, the group went ahead and kept it simple, ordering the Thunder Burger with cheddar (the de facto cheeseburger), cooked medium.
If you're like us, in that you like a wide variety of free toppings to put on your burger, then you'll love the array that Thunder Burger has to offer. Their free toppings for any of their burgers include: charred anchos and jalapeños (we ordered these on the side--they were darn tasty), grilled red onions, sauteed mushrooms, roasted red peppers, thousand island sauce, ancho mayo, wasabi mayo, remoulade sauce, ginger aioli, BBQ sauce and ranch sauce; for a little extra cash, they'll also throw on your choice of cheese--ranging from American Swiss, Belle Etoile Triple Cream brie, gorgonzola blue cheese and Tillamook aged white cheddar--or a fried egg or applewood smoked bacon.
When the burger arrived, we were all excited, even before we had actually sunk our teeth into it. Most of us thought the presentation of the burger itself, with the steel bucket of fries flanking the open-faced burger was excellent.
First bite into the burger, and it was damn near perfect. The burger was cooked to an absolutely perfect medium, and we got a great hit of flavorful, perfectly seasoned meat, delicious burger juice, with just the right volume of notes from the lettuce, bun and cheese. But again, the star of this burger was the meat. The patty was super thick and super juicy, the all-natural grass feed beef was as tasty as any of the free range burgers we've tried, and there was just the right amount of fatty bits to lend to the overall flavor.
Since we ordered nothing but the charred ancho and jalapeño peppers, the only topping we received on the burger aside from the cheese was lettuce, which was quite fine by us--less to get in the way of the delicious meat.
The patty was super thick and super juicy, the all-natural grass feed beef was as tasty as any of the free range burgers we've tried, and there was just the right amount of fatty bits to lend to the overall flavor.
And we were big fans of the fact that the lettuce, as the only topping on the burger, was placed on the bottom bun underneath the meat. All the better to keep that juice in place and the bun intact.
The bun got mostly positive, albeit somewhat mixed reviews. Some of us loved the non-conventional use of Challah bread for the bun, especially considering it was buttered and toasted and held up to the juicy burger. But the use of sesame seeds on the outside reminded some of "that which shall not be named" obnoxiously ubiquitous fast food chain.
The cheese was the same way. Some of us agreed that the ordered cheddar added the requisite salty and fatty notes to this already awesome burger, while others felt it was "just there," adding little (if anything) to the burger--though certainly taking nothing away from it either.
Here's the best way to sum up how we felt about this burger: after we were done with our food, we had a legitimate and spirited debate as to whether we had just consumed the best burger in the entire DMV. The consensus was that this burger, without question, was in the top two or three burgers we've consumed. That should tell you something considering that, as of eating that burger, our collective group had consumed burgers from over 110 different venues in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
This is, quite simply, a damn good burger. It might not do one specific thing that blows you away, but it does absolutely everything right--and better than a vast majority of other burgers--in all the key categories. Especially when you're talking about the size of the burger and the quality plus flavor combination of the meat, few burgers in the entire DMV can stack up.
Without question, this is a place we'll come back to, and often. Given the variety of food choices, and the numerous ways you can top your burger, anyone who comes here can enjoy a great meal. If it wasn't such a pain in the tuckus to get in and out of Georgetown, or to find a parking spot in general without having to forego your 401(k), we'd be back here more often than is healthy for our waistline or cholesterol levels.
Thunder Burger (with cheese) - Thunder Burger & Bar