If salads are the new cupcakes, then burgers are the new salads. Between Five Guys, Z Burger, Good Stuff Eatery, and BGR the Burger Joint, it seems like there’s a new ground-beef-patty palace popping up in the District faster than you can say “Starbucks.” Now, even fusion chefs such as Lima’s Raynold Mendizabal have entered the fray.
Rogue States, Mendizabal’s month-old Dupont Circle burger joint, not only caters to the well-heeled lunch crowd but also stays open until 5 AM to attract those lingering past last call.
“I wanted to do this four years ago, but ideas travel faster than money,” says Mendizabal, who has a PhD in mathematics and uses the revenue from his restaurants to fund his physics research. “My thought was to combine rustic and urban ideas to create a concept for nightgoers.”
To that end, a heap of wood piled high in a crate sits a few feet from the cashier’s counter, while the far wall is lined with slabs of reclaimed timber Mendizabal found at a torn-down barn in rural Pennsylvania (look for a scattering of dog-paw prints on one). The bucolic theme gives way to a large dining area in the back of the restaurant surrounded by a graffitied mural showing city skylines and a break dancer.
While Rogue States’s extended hours may lure droopy-eyed bar-hoppers, its gourmet fast-food menu offers more than a sloppy cheeseburger. Mendizabal’s staff grinds Hereford beef each morning, grilling it over mesquite wood for customers in one of two ways: pink or no pink. Patties are sprinkled with enough spices to create seven flavors, such as the Pardon My French (with black-truffle oil), the Curried Away (featuring a house curry blend), and the Now & Zen (a mixture of toasted sesame seeds with soy sauce). The burgers arrive on brioche buns—delivered each morning from DC’s Lyon Bakery—before a waitress brings them to the table.
“Then comes the hard part,” Mendizabal says. “What to put on top of it.”
In addition to ketchup and mustard, customers can dollop their burger or dip their fries in Old Bay or wasabi sauce as well as four types of mayonnaise (we especially liked the chipotle variety). Wash it all down with any of five beers on tap from Fredericksburg’s Blue & Gray Brewing Company.
It’s an unusual spread but not any more out-there than its Vietnamese-burger-slinging competition. So what’s with the name?
“I’m from Cuba, and my partners are from Palestine and Iran,” Mendizabal says. “It doesn’t get much more rogue than that.”
Rogue States, 1300 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-296-2242; aburgergrillingcompany.com. Open daily 11 AM to 5 AM.
The Rogue State (house spice blend, chipotle, cilantro) $7
Now & Zen (soy sauce, green onion, ginger, toasted sesame seeds) $7
Curried Away (house curry blend, onion, cilantro, hot chilies) $7
Ciao Down (garlic, tomatoes, basil) $7
No Burger, No Cry (house jerk blend, red onion, habanero peppers) $7
Pardon My French (black-truffle oil, thyme) $10
Square One (sea salt, fresh black pepper) $7
(For $10, you can substitute turkey for beef on the Rogue State and Square One.)
Lettuce, tomato, pickle, onions (raw and grilled)
Cheese (American, cheddar, Swiss, provolone, blue, Brie) 50 cents
Applewood-smoked bacon $1
Grilled red pepper $1
Wild mushrooms $1.50
Soda and fresh iced tea $2
Beers on tap by Blue & Gray Brewing Company $5.50
Follow the Best Bites Bloggers on Twitter at twitter.com/bestbitesblog