Bobby’s Burger Palace. Shake Shack. (Another) Black and Orange. We’ve all watched a slew of burger-centric eateries pop up in the Washington area over the past year.
Really, it was only a matter of time before a group of hungry computer nerds decided to bring their love of the humble hamburger to the forefront of D.C.’s culinary landscape.
And they did it in the most scientific way they knew how, by creating weighted rankings of the region’s best burgers at DMVBurgerWars.
It all started with happenstance. And, perhaps, Groupon.
“We’d gotten one of those daily group deals” on a burger place, site co-creater Tim Brown said., “and every time we turn around there’s someplace new.” The friends thought, “How do we decide which one’s better than another’”
The answer was an algorithm that weights and ranks such criteria as presentation, overall taste and seasoning and comes complete with a back-end rating system that the Burger Wars crew accesses from their phones while noshing.
Brown, an IT professional by day who, along with six other members of the crew, grew up “along the 355 corridor,” has tested 90 burgers so far. And all in the name of delicious, tasty research.
The site, which launched just before the Super Bowl, describes each eligible restaurant in insane detail. The description of front-runner Thunder Burger & Bar includes menu price ($12), weighted rankings (5.0 stars) and paragraphs upon paragraphs of the venue, burgers and overall eating experience.
Brown admits that nothing but the love of the sandwich makes these guys experts. (Well, that and their desire to help establish the American classic as the DMV’s official regional cuisine.) But the idea of putting solid data behind the rankings is intriguing. For instance, the algorithm has spit out a list of overall top burgers that varies from The Washington Post’s rankings.
And while he acknowledges that just a few people might point to the half-smoke as a Washington institution, Brown thinks the burger might be the city’s strongest chance to establish a Philly cheesesteak/Chicago deep dish style of regional food.
“Our major goal is to look at D.C. as a place that doesn’t have a major food identity,” Brown said. “What better way for a town like Washington to identify with an all-American food, the hamburger?”