Dining on a Shoestring: Joe’s Amazing Burgers

A new owner classed up this McLean burger joint.

Joe’s Truffle Love burger is laden with goat cheese and aïoli. Photograph by Frank Tyeryar.

A ketchup-and-mustard color scheme is the only thing Joe’s Amazing Burgers has in common with other fast-food joints. The renovated interior’s 1940s-era arches and vintage moldings are now the backdrop for a revamped menu courtesy of new owner Al Laroussi. The beef, bison, and pork in the burgers and the house-made chorizo are all-natural. The quality shows.

Start with crab-and-artichoke dip ($10) served with toasted baguette slices. Mushroom satay ($6 for three skewers) is made with marinated, grilled cremini buttons and served with wasabi-lime aïoli. Of the burgers, served with fries, we liked the Butcher’s Choice ($12), with cheddar, horseradish mustard, and smoked mayonnaise; the Truffle Love ($15), with port-caramelized onions and goat cheese; and the Run for the Border ($12), with jalapeño jack cheese, onion rings, and smoked-tomato mayo. We passed up the veggie burger ($12) when told the patties came from Trader Joe’s, but a juicy turkey burger was a hit.

The BLTC sandwich ($9), served on Texas toast, updates a classic with creamy goat cheese and avocado, and it gets a zing from wasabi-lime mayo. Sweet-potato fries with buttermilk ranch dressing ($5) are perfect for sharing.

A few things don’t work so well. Milkshakes ($5.50) were runny and too sweet. A side of macaroni and cheese was oily and small for its $4 price. Sliders ($5) off the kids’ menu were cooked to hockey-puck consistency.

And on a shoestring budget, forget about the $26 Kobe-beef burger.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of The Washingtonian.