Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tasty Burger Food Review

The Big Tasty (sans cheese)

Once upon a time, there was Nightclub 9:30 and (practically) nothing else. Nowadays, the area between Shaw and the U Street Corridor is a hub of activity... buoyed by the recent additions of Landmark's Atlantic Plumbing Cinema and Tasty Burger. The latter opened just two weeks ago, but already appears to be a neighborhood favorite/fixture. After my first visit earlier today, it's easy to see why.

This is Tasty Burger's first venture outside its Boston-area comfort zone, and so far, it appears to be settling in quite well. Prices are downright affordable (almost every item on the menu costs under 6 bucks) service is bend-over-backwards impressive, and even the surroundings are nice. Before you get too carried away, keep in mind the food is good (not great) but I walked away happy and stuffed... with barely a dent in my wallet.

50/50 Fries & Rings

The 1800-square foot space is cleverly designed, and features a carry-out window (busy, even during the day) an indoor/outdoor bar area and a few rows of booths/tables. It also features a foosball table, TouchTunes jukebox (no quarters, but it does take credit cards!) and lots of local art. I grabbed a table in the back, near the spotlessly clean restrooms, and was immediately greeted by super-server Raynese (hope I'm spelling her name right.) Raynese has a heart of gold, and gobs of enthusiasm. She also kept strict tabs on me and at least half-a-dozen other tables without skipping so much as a beat.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Speaking of beats, the music (Yamaha speakers) is appropriately cool. Sam Hunt, Skylar Grey and Jessie Ware play at just the right decibel, with an occasional stumble or two (i.e. Justin Timberlake.) Not into Justin either? Whip out your mobile phone, and play around with the aforementioned TouchTunes jukebox. Custom DJs + burgers = As good as it gets.

Plain (All Beef) Dog

I decided to go for broke, and order a little bit of everything. Round one included TB's house burger... The Big Tasty ($5.95 for a 1/3 lb. certified all-natural beef burger with cheese, lettuce, pickle, red onion, tomato and Tasty sauce.) It's hard to ask for a better first bite. Be warned, it's messy but delicious. My only complaint (and it's a minor one) is that it was advertised as MEDIUM, but arrived WELL-DONE. Luckily, it wasn't dry at all... but surprisingly moist, although the Tasty sauce sure didn't hurt in that regard. Not quite as good as Burger Tap & Shake's Six Buck Chuck, but darn tasty all the same.

Tater Tots

I also asked for an order of 50/50 Fries & Rings for $5.50. Quantities are quite generous, so come hungry. The fries were hot & crunchy, although a bit light on seasoning. The onion rings were actually straws... lightly breaded, and closer to cold than hot. A little hotter, and I'd probably be singing their praise. As is, so-so. P.S. Perhaps a sauce would help?

Green Monster Shake

Sauces are available (as well as condiments) on TB's clever Lazy Susan... a must-have for any burger joint. Truth be told, Tasty Burger has a lot of must-haves, with an emphasis on eclectic art, including an attention-grabbing chandelier made of Coca Cola glass bottles (40 of 'em!) Seats are comfy, with sufficient space between tables and lots of natural light. Overall, tremendous atmosphere.

Granted, you can't eat atmosphere; so back to the food, and round two of my smörgåsbord. TB's Buffalo Chicken sandwich is nicely priced ($5.95) and flavorful with flaky white meat and a high-powered buffalo sauce. It comes with Blue Cheese (which I skipped) in addition to lettuce and mayo. The bun was soft but not grilled; and if I had to reconstruct it, I'd suggest adding a slice of tomato to take away some of the bite from the sauce.

Music via TouchTunes

Hot Dogs are also on the menu ($4.45 + $1 for chili or cheese sauce) and believe you me, they're plenty big. 1/4 pound, in fact. Mine was nice & juicy with visible grill marks. Ditto for the bun; but I doubt I'd order it again (after all, it's Tasty Burger... not Tasty Dogs.) Still, it's good to have another (tasty) option on the menu.

Foosball anyone?

Which leads us to my favorite item of the day... a surprising "blast from the past," if you will. Tater Tots! They're a tad pricey (five bucks) but I'd gladly pay double for the best Tots I've ever had. Sorry Mom (or was it Ore-Ida?) but TB's Tots are in a word... perfect. The frying time/method was spot-on, producing an incredibly crispy tater without a trace of oiliness. I cleaned the entire basket, in 2-3 minutes flat. Needless to say, I highly recommend them.

Desserts are available as well ($3 Cupcakes and $4.75 milk shakes) in addition to a full selection of alcoholic beverages (hence the bar.) Don't ask how, but I found room for a Green Monster Shake. It didn't necessarily remind me of Boston's beloved Fenway Park; but I dug the combination of chocolate chips and peppermint, especially when the chips made their way through the straw (instead of getting it stuck in it.) Also, more creamy than thick... Just the way I like it.

Tasty Burger makes a great addition to DC's burger scene, and should have a huge impact in its neighborhood. Finally, a reason to go back to the 9:30 Club. Good eats, before and after! That's music to my ears (and tummy.)