Wednesday, January 29, 2014


For reasons that have never been made clear to me, downtown Silver Spring is the only metropolitan area in North America that is not home to a Five Guys franchise. I don't fully understand the massive success of of Five Guys, though perhaps in many places it simply serves as a superior option to McDonald's. The good thing is that the absence of Five Guys has left the burger market in downtown Silver Spring relatively unsaturated, opening the door for a new arrivial like BurgerFi, which opened on Fenton Street last week. (Sure, there's a Fuddruckers around the corner, but I've never had the desire to step foot in there for whatever reason.)

In the world of hamburger chains, BurgerFi is probably closest in comparison to Shake Shack, though minus the insufferable hype that accompanies that chain. Like Shake Shack, it serves beer and wine, and seemed to have a relatively large selection of both, at least for a burger joint. The non-alcoholic beverage selection is good, too - not only are they equipped with the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, they also offer the bottled HFCS-free Mexican Cokes and other imported bottled Coke products.

The menu consists of various hamburgers, hot dogs and fries, plus they have a variety of custard-based frozen treats. (Whatever you do, don't look at the calorie count.)

As to the quality of the burgers, I'll stick to a simple video review:

As far as its physical space, BurgerFi features a stylish, modern look, and has something that is severely lacking in Silver Spring: outdoor seating. And it's not just a couple chairs awkwardly stuck out on the sidewalk, either - there's a fairly large covered area with tables and chairs outside the entrance. Of course, this won't be usable for months, but it will be nice to have the option available when the weather improves.

The main downside I could find was that if you are coming from the direction of Wayne Avenue, you are forced to pass the entrance to Washington Sports Club, which could elicit a feeling of guilt about the thousands of calories you are about to consume...


Anonymous said...

"The main downside I could find was that if you are coming from the direction of Wayne Avenue, you are forced to pass the entrance to Washington Sports Club, which could elicit a feeling of guilt about the thousands of calories you are about to consume..."

BurgerFi currently has a deal with WSC for a free week if you come in and at BurgerFi. So for at least the first week you have no reason for super guilt.

Anonymous said...

Haha, that's pretty genius to partner w/WSC. I'm not a fast food guy so I'm sure I'll stick with the excellent burgers from Classics, QH, 8407, and Scion, but this is an interesting enough addition that hopefully spells the end for Fuddruckers. Glad we got this over the 148830453408th 5 Guy's location (which don't serve shakes and almost never serve beer either, not to mention the crap meat they use).

Sligo said...

You'd need a week at the gym to work off a burger, fries and shake from there.

Snp129 said...

I ate there on Monday and enjoyed it a lot. I will definitely be back.

Any news on 923 Sligo Cafe? It looks like that place hasn't been touched since November.

Anonymous said...

923 Sligo Cafe just had their electrical permits approved on 1/24. So soon you'll see the finishing work go on (e.g. hanging of drywall).

Anonymous said...

Any news on what will replace Macaroni Grill?

A month ago I sent an email to Gordon Biersch corporate recommending DTSS but haven't heard jack back. Maybe Rock Bottom would be interested?

Anonymous said...

Have you had the fries? A regular-sized portion is so huge (just like Five Guys), that my birds were happy when I got home. I got the Urban afries w/Parmesan, herbs, and garlic aioli. Their VegeFi burger is tasty - made with quinoa.

Sligo said...

The fries are big... and like $4, if I recall.

Adam said...

I went to the Classics a month or so ago, for the first time since they dropped the "Ray's", and was kinda disappointed in the burger. I mean, the meat itself was still as good as the previous version, but the bun just SUCKED. Too small, too crumbly, and couldn't contain the burger. The Ray's Hell Burgers were always messy but I could at least pick them up and eat them, and that's just not possible any more. It was so crumbly I couldn't even easily eat it with a knife and fork.

Was that just an off night, or has anybody else experienced this change?

Mike said...

My wife and I had that same experience long before the changeover. A bun change may have happened earlier.

Anonymous said...

Scion's burger is the best I've ever had. By quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

A Gordon Biersch/Rock Bottom-type place would do such unbelievably bonkers business in the Mac Grill space. It's such a no-brainer, unless Revolutions is the shit and everyone goes there instead. Obviously, it'd be nice if an independent/original restaurant open in the M. Grill spot, but I'm sure the rent is too damn high for that. Which is okay, in my book, so long as the rest of dTSS doesn't become that expensive and generic.

Anonymous said...

I, too, enjoyed BurgerFi. Nothing over the op, but still good and I'd be happy to drop in from time to time.

And though it was stated before, let me reiterate; if you have a group of 25 visiting monks and need to feed them, order only 1 small order of fries. It will be more than enough and you will, probably, have some left over for meals the next day.

And, while it is not a drinking place, I could envision a warm summer day where I'd sit out on their porch and decide to take in the scene and have few cold ones.

Gray said...

The Scion burger has gotten rave reviews from my wife. I'm vegetarian, but I'm a huge fan of their veggie burger.

If you're a fan of burgers and drinking, Tuesday night before 7 is the time to go to Scion. That's the overlap of their Tuesday special (half price burgers) and 5-7 happy hour(half price draft beers, $5 glasses of wine, etc.).

Quarry House has half price burgers on Tuesday too, right? I haven't been there since Scion opened.

Peebee said...

Quarry and Jackie's/Sidebar do half price burgers on Monday night. Tuesday is taco night at QHT. Although as my friend recently put it, "now that there are no [Latinos] in the kitchen, I'm not sure how good it will be."

Tried BurgerFi last night (after walking into WSC to cancel my membership...) Was mostly impressed until I got the price tag. The base prices aren't obscene, but they charge for a lot of add-ons that neither Five Guys or Shake Shack will.

Mushrooms are $1.00 (free at Five Guys). Any seasoning on the fries is extra (Cajun seasoning is free at Five Guys). I love the Coke Freestyle machines (like Fuddruckers and Noodles have), but it was $2.25/7? for a 16-oz glass.

The burger itself is very juicy and tasty...I haven't tried Scion but think it's better than QHT and Five Guys, and most similar to Shake Shack's. The portion of fries is most similar to Five Guys -- used the leftovers to make hash for breakfast. I'll be back to try the shakes/ room this time around.

The beer selection seems good (I'm not a beer drinker so I had wine, which was nothing to write home about.) Overall, I think it's a good addition to the area and with any luck, will knock out Fuddruckers and prevent the future incursion of Five Guys. I don't order burgers at the Classics or 8407, since that's not what I'm there to get, but if you want a fast food-ish high quality burger, I think they do it very well.

Gray said...

Peebee: A ha, Monday night at those places. I had been going to Jackie's all the time, but stopped when they decimated their happy hour. I checked their dinner menu a while back...and they seem to have gone to tapas? So it went from pricey but good food to what appears to be very overpriced food. I guess that's their attempt to differentiate themselves from 8407 Kitchen, but it's not a winning strategy in my eyes.

I forgot about the tacos at QH. They used to be pretty good, but I haven't been back since the kitchen turned over.

Anonymous said...

When Fuddruckers first opened on Rockville Pike their burgers were very good and the lines super long. Somewhere along the way, they went to pre-formed crap that is horrid. I tried the SS location, not good. never went back.

Anonymous said...

Looks like City Place is finally a Go. Petrie Ross Ventures is getting their planning approvals and presenting to the local Advisory Boards. They say the mall will 'reopen' in 2015 - with better escalators and upgraded tenants. (Cross your fingers)
They are opting for the Times Square look, with lots and lots of signage and 2 big 'ol jumbotrons at the corners at Ellsworth and Colesville.
Times Square look?! Veteran's Plaza as Times Square? Are they serious? It's DTSS.
That jumbotron has a whiff of desperation about it. Of course, it is probably too much to ask that the new and improved 'Ellsworth Place' be entirely free of head smacking stupidity.

Peebee said...

Gray said >>>I had been going to Jackie's all the time, but stopped when they decimated their happy hour. I checked their dinner menu a while back...and they seem to have gone to tapas?

I wouldn't really call it tapas: they have a few small plate selections but a lot of entrees as well. I only go on Monday nights for the fried chicken. Not an 8407 fan after some crappy food and service on multiple occasions, so in my opinion, Jackie's' menu changes weren't as much to compete with 8407 as to allow Adam to do his thing and make his menu distinctive from Diana's. If you like tapas and happy hour, though, La Malinche is where it's at....

Anonymous said...

When in DSW not too long ago, I overheard one of the employees say she was excited about American Tap Room opening in the the former Macaroni Grill space. Not sure if there is any truth to that.

I'm personally looking forward to the new brew pub, Denizen's scheduled to open late spring/early summer in the former Fajita Coast space. Hopefully they can make that space work.

I agree with Scion having one of the best burgers around, tho you can't beat the tator tots at QH!

Anonymous said...

I went to BurgerFi on their opening day and was very happy with my burger. I have always thought Fudds beef has a weird flavor profile, I don't care for. While I look forward to a revitalized City Place, I hope the jumbo trons get the axe.


Anonymous said...

"Fudds Beef" lol.

Glad that isn't their slogan. 'Come on in and sink your teeth right into Fudd's Beef!'

American Tap Room you say? While they don't brew in house, it'd be a step up and add to our Bethesdafication.

Anonymous said...

Kudos! We haven't gone racist after 22 posts!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the American Tap Room rumor isn't true. I've never been, but reviews are terrible at all their locations. Which is surprising considering they keep expanding and they're in high-rent spaces. You'd think they'd have a good business in place.

Gray said...


I wouldn't really call it tapas: they have a few small plate selections but a lot of entrees as well. I only go on Monday nights for the fried chicken.

I don't know. Reviews and the menu suggest that even their fish and meat dishes aren't entree portions any more. The Monday night menu sounds interesting and much cheaper, but I'm vegetarian so I'm not going to go for that.

Sorry to hear about your negative experience at Kitchen. We've had good luck there, and can say the same about Pacci's, which also isn't quite as expensive. With those plus Scion and The Classics, we actually have a nice stable of nicer, non-chain restaurants in DTSS.

I hope Denizens is good. That would make me not care if something like an American Tap Room opened up in the old Macaroni Grill space.

Anonymous said...

ATR might get bad reviews, but it does get good crowds in Arlington. I feel like generic places like that never get high marks, but people gravitate towards them because they are decent and have enough generic options to please everyone.

Gull said...

I've been to the American Tap Room in Bethesda. To me my bad review would stem from it being a restaurant that is not sure what kind of restaurant it is.

There are a lot of elements of it that are trying to be fancier and higher class, with a menu that is not that different looking from an Applebees except the higher price, and yet it's also got elements of a brew pub vibe going on.

I'd agree that it's generic enough to just barely please everyone, but not make a fan out of anyone. I'd almost put Copper Canyon in the same camp based on my two experiences in there also.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Cakelove is gone now.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of poorly reviewed places; don't think many would miss Cakelove if that's true. Was the space cleared out?

Perry said...

I can confirm it's cleared out with all seating and equipment gone. I'm not going to miss the place though.

Peebee said...

With so many good cupcake dessert places in the city, glad that we are no longer stuck with Cakelove....

Ate again at BurgerFi last night with the boyfriend....had an even better experience. Watched all the add-ons and so the bill wasn't so high, and had a chance to try their concrete: the red velvet one is simply divine. Took a little while to get our meal, but they use the pagers like Shake Shack so people aren't screaming out names and numbers all the time. A very worthy addition to DTSS.

Justafed said...

Concerning the American Tap Room...I am guessing the reason why it does okay in Bethesda is because once all of the better restaurants fill up and you are looking for a table...well, it's not terrible and nobody wants to re-park the car in search of something better.

Anyway, the odd thing here is that ATR and Austin Grill are both owned by the same company:

...which also owns Marvelous Market, which has (had?) imploded to just its Georgetown location, although Thompson Hospitality notes that franchising options are available. Amazing what you find out when you hit the old search engine.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, figured ATR and Austin Grill were the same ownership; both the Bethesda and Rville Austin Grill locations switched to being ATRs. I think the same thing might be more likely in DTSS, not so much the idea ATR is going to move in next door to our Austin Grill.

Anonymous said...

Went to Burger Fi on Friday. We were not impressed. We ordered the Burger Fi burger and the brisket burger. Both tasted like a rather run of the mill beef patty. I had visions of flavorful and juicy brisket meat, like I wished Mom used to make. It was just a pressed meat burger and wasn't even as good as the Burger Fi burger.
The fries/onion rings were OK, and very generous portion.
The wine was just OK, a chintzy pour in a plastic glass. Skip it.
Service is excellent, noise level tolerable and they are open later than just about every place else. (Hear that - all you DTSS restaurants who close at 10 PM on a weekend)
For the BEST burger - I don't think Burger Fi ranks.

Not surprised about Cake Love. They advertised they made cakes like Mom used to make. It was true - Their cakes tasted just like my Mom's Betty Crocker box mix cakes.
How about an independent book store in that spot.

Anonymous said...

"Both tasted like a rather run of the mill beef patty."

Well we are talking about a fast-food $5 burger, yes? It's not supposed to compete with Adega/Scion/Ray's/8407.

Anonymous said...

Delicious burger and fries. It's on the ever expanding list of cheap eats for Silver Spring.

Anonymous said...

"How about an independent book store in that spot."


Gray said...

@Anon at 11:03: I laughed at that line, too. Of all the things that could possibly move into that space, "independent book store" isn't on the list.

Weezer said...

Too bad about Cake Love, they were at least a local business. But probably too much competition from Whole Checks. I would like to see another local chain arrive there, we need a BBQ joint badly.

Anonymous said...

I second the BBQ comment. Urban BBQ would do well in that old Cake Love spot.

Maybe Chipotle is ready to open a Shop House in Silver Spring. They appear to be expanding at a good clip with a few spots in Cali and now in Bethesda.

Or maybe a nice Ethiopian place.

Gull said...

if we are looking for our ideal local business, I want to see a Cava Mezze Grill in silver spring! I think after the burger joint, having a 'chipotle style' Mediterranean place is the next thing everyone in the area has except us. (Roti is another example, but Cava is so much better).

Anonymous said...

Or maybe a nice Ethiopian place.

I'm thinking a hair and nail salon.

Anonymous said...

Wig shop, bank or phone store please

Anonymous said...

Silver Spring named #13th "Most Exciting Suburb in America"

Bethesda doesn't make list and they're sad:

DCcurbed runs their own opinion poll and Silver Spring wins by a landslide (so far):

Anonymous said...

So I do have to compliment DTSS on the parking garage options.

Trying to use the garage on Bethesda Ave. is always a nightmare due to the heavy pedestrian walkways that cross both vehicle entrances to the garage.

Anonymous said...

I just don't get all the hype about the burger at Scion. I have yet to get it cooked to the doneness I have requested. And burgers are pretty much all I eat. (Yay for autism and texture issues).

Anonymous said...

Taqueria Distrito Federal may be on its last leg too. I pass by every night and they seem to turn most of their lights off when its empty...which is frequent.

Anonymous said...

This blog seems determined to push the idea that the Distrito is closing. The owner says absolutely not.

Go talk to him if you don't believe me. Now it might still happen, but I'll take his word vs. anon bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Dude, Distrito is up for sale. It's a fact. It's not conjecture. So unless you're suggesting the place is listed for sale without the owner's knowledge, then you're just wrong.

Anonymous said...

I showed the owner that listing. He flatly denied it. Sure he could be lying but this blog is full of crazy people. So until he admits it I'm going with him

Also: 170k for that location? CONDOS in that building that are smaller than that cost twice as much. So you're telling me you can get a business in this building cheaper than almost any condo here? Okay.

Again, he could be lying, that's fine. But I'll wait till the official word. And yes I still see customers in there all the time.

Anonymous said...

The owner didn't tell you that his business is failing? How surprising. The $170K isn't to own the space; it's to take over the space. Effectively he's trying to dump his equipment and get out of the lease. Get it now? Suggesting that a broker is doing this without his consent (and that he'd then do nothing to get the listing removed) is beyond absurd.

Sure, the place might stay open due to his inability to sell or maybe the new owner will decide to keep the place open, but it is obviously, most certainly, up for sale. That's not even up for debate so I don't know why you're pretending like it is.

Easley St said...

@Adam re: The Classics

I went there for a steak last month in the bar area and it was a great deal and very yummy! Not to mention a great deal in the bar area... I didn't have the burger, so can't comment on that, but as far as I'm concerned, no noticeable difference in steaks. :)

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