In this installment of DC Food Trend Watch 2010, we headed to one of the newer burger places on the block, Rogue States. I expected Rogue States to be the same concept as the other newish burger joints (gourmet burgers, fancy ingredients, rinse, repeat) but I was wrong. At Rogue States, they take the fancy toppings and put them IN - instead of on - your burger.
While I fed the meter outside on busy Connecticut Avenue (btw, I am not a fan of the new extended meter hours!), B ordered our lunch. At the recommendation of the adorable little kid helping out behind the counter, B chose the Rogue State burger: house spice blend, chipotle, and cilantro blended in the patty. For toppings, he chose the provolone cheese and onion and lettuce. All burgers are half a pound and cost $7. Fancy toppings will cost you extra. Cheese is 50 cents, bacon and grilled red peppers are $1, and wild mushrooms are $1.50. Because of the blend of flavors in the patty, we found that these babies didn't need much in the way of toppings.
For me, B ordered the Now & Zen burger (soy sauce, green onion, ginger, and sesame seeds in the patty topped with tomato, lettuce, onion, and pickles). I didn't feel the need to add any ketchup, mustard, or mayo to this burger because it just screamed flavor. You can order it cooked "pink" or "no pink" and I found the pink to be just right for me (a medium rare). The cool part about packing the flavor inside the burger is that you don't have to deal with the fancy toppings falling in your lap as you eat. They are cradled inside a lovely, hormone free blanket o' beef.
We also sampled the sweet potato fries. I've never met a sweet potato fry that I didn't like but Rogue States' taters were memorably delicious. In what seemed to be a rip-off of Good Stuff Eatery (see our post here), they feature fancy mayos for dipping such as Old Bay, chipotle, and wasabi.
One thing that sets Rogue States apart in the burger wars is that it is open til 5am for your post-bar burger needs. They also feature beer on tap from a local brewery. I am probably in the minority, but I'd prefer a milkshake instead of a beer with my burger. Because Rogue States is milkshake-less, it won't replace Good Stuff in my burger joint rotation. However, I think it is worthy of its own unique place in my burger-loving heart. If your heart is of the veggie variety, be warned that Rogue States does not offer a veggie burger option. If you don't do beef, you can sub a turkey burger for an extra $2. Happy eating, burger friends!
Second Thoughts from B
Mark this one up under the "why didn't I think of that?" category. So many places have taken the average burger and glammed it up with high-end or exotic add-ins. They all boast about beef that is grass fed, local, fresh, blah, blah, blah. They might even slap some "special spices" in there but all in all, it is still a patty of beef that often ends up playing second fiddle to everything else.
Not so at Rogue States. The burger is the unquestioned star of the show. Supremely juicy and flavorful, it comes in seven different forms, all of which seem appetizing. But just because this new iteration of the favorite American staple features the patty, don't think the other elements were forgotten. Of particular note is the brioche bun which perfectly sops up the juices that you'll not want to waste.
As I sat enjoying my burger, I couldn't help but compare it to our other favorite burger options, namely Ray's Hell Burger (see post here) and Good Stuff. However, I found it hard to consider Rogue States' offering as the same menu item. It was, as they say, comparing apples and oranges. And while Ray's and Good Stuff will continue to see plenty of my business, I'm here to announce that the burger has evolved... and I like it.