"Mini Meat" (DC Style Magazine, p. 121)
Since its humble birthplace in White Castle steamtrays, the mini-burger (or slider, or belly bomb) has gone postmodern. A troika of food trends made manifest - tiny plates, upscale incredients and ever-popular irony - come together with the appeal of seeing childhood junk food made tongue-in-cheekily elegant. Hand-chopped sirloin replaces gray, premade patties of dubious quality; domes of grilled brioche stand in for plasticene white buns. Mini-burgers are ubiquitous in the area's yupscale restaurants, but enough standouts exist to go on a days-long burgerous rampage.
Tallula, 2761 Washington Blvd, Arlington, Va, 703-338-5051; $3 each A self-conciously hip, grape-focused place (with 70 wines by the glass), Tallula's hors d'oeuvres-cum-tapas menu lists "two bite" portions of chorizo corn dogs and "steak and cheese" - steak tartare garnished with a parmesan tuile. The headlining Baby Burgers successfully continue the haute but homey trend with a generous slather of truffle butter and a dollop of onion marmalade.
701 Restaurant, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., 202-393-0701; two for $8.95 The appeal of 701's Twin Burgers lies in their excellent execution. An ordinary cheeseburger is elevated with melted Monterey Jack, crisp bacon and a dainty sorrel salad and wisy house-made potato crisp accompaniment. Though cooked a shade beyond medium-rare, the coarsely-ground beef is a pleasure to eat.
Jackie's, 8081 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, Mdd, 301-565-9700; $2.50 each The Mini Elvis is an obscenely pink and drippy wad of highly seasoned beef swaddled in a too-sweet brioche bun, ultimately redeemed by a big scoop of salty, tangy pimento cheese. Lazy attention to detail stops Jackie's just short of perfection; a few seconds more on the griddle could solve the off-putting crumbliness of the cheese and the under-doneness of the beef. This little Elvis could be a truly great tasty-kitsch morsel.
Little Tavern, 115 Washington Blvd. S., Laurel, Md, 410-792-9364; One for 70 cents; cheeseburger for 80 cents; three for $1.95, six for $3.95 The one and only infamously trashy mini-burger empire of yesteryear has fallen on hard times. Of 147 locations in its heyday, only three remain. A lone, chatty waitress cooks, cashiers and serves up a burger that's exactly as one would expect: gray, studded with reconstituted minced onions, and plopped on a squishy white bun with pickles and American cheese. --Eunny Jang