Amy and I are hamburger lovers. We will range far and wide in search of the perfect burger and we apply critical eyes to any patty and bun combination that fails to meet our expectations.
When Red Robin, a self-proclaimed “Gourmet Burger” chain opened near New River Valley Mall, we tried it out just a couple of days after their launch. Food was, at the time passable and service laughable (Amy’s burger arrived before her French Onion soup) but we decided it was unfair to judge a new restaurant in its first week of operation.
We we ventured back Wednesday night while running errands in Christansburg. The newness has worn off so we didn’t have to wait for a seat. Service: Much improved. Amy’s French Onion soup and my clam chowder arrived quickly along with a stack of onion rings, even though the waiter tried to give all to the table next to us.
Another waiter showed up with the burgers just as we finished the soups. Amy ordered her Royal Burger rare. It was closer to medium. My “classic bacon cheeseburger” was closer to medium (as ordered) and was reasonably tasty. But halfway through chomping down, we looked at each other and said in unison: “Five Guys.”
Among hamburger chains, Five Guys still sets the standard in our part of the world. We got hooked on Five Guys while living in Arlington. Started by five guys in college in a ramshackle strip mall on Columbia Pike in Arlington (not far from where we lived), Five Guys offered then, and still does, a simple no-frills menu of hamburgers and cheesburgers in two sizes, hot dogs and boardwalk-style fries. The burgers, cooked when ordered, are delicious. We often plan errands around the Five Guys in Blacksburg or the newer outlet in Salem so we can enjoy a good burger.
Locally, the burgers at D.J.’s drive-in are worth a try as is the hamburger steak at Ray’s (when he’s in the mood to be open). Dude’s in Christiansburg has been serving them greasy and hot for decades and the Fuddrucker’s in Salem offers up delicious burgers up to 1 lb.
But Five Guys, in our opinion, still tops the burger kingdom in both Northern Virginia and here in the Southwestern mountains.