Everyone loves a hamburger

Everyone loves a hamburger. Or else they love to hate it. But despite its iconic status, the humble hamburger often gets overlooked for its gourmet potential.

All that’s needed to achieve this potential is fresh ingredients, a high-quality ground beef, and a creative chef.

If you want a no-frills, traditional burger done the right way, look no further than BGR the Burger Joint, which can be found at four different locations in the D.C. area: Bethesda, Dupont Circle, Arlington, and Alexandria.

Adding a hip twist to the typical burger joint, the BGR restaurant in Dupont Circle freely mixes the chic with the casual. The restaurant pulses to songs of ’80s rock legends, and the décor is enhanced with electric guitars that have been mounted on the walls. Customers ordering food are served metropolitan style: on paper napkins on a steel tray.

Don’t let the laid-back atmosphere fool you — when it comes to the food, BGR delivers the goods. Burgers are thick and juicy, the vegetables fresh and the fries come in ample portions.

Tired of the same old beef burgers? No problem, the BGR menu offers plenty of alternatives, including tuna, lobster, leg of lamb, turkey and veggie burgers. If there is a downside, it is the pricing, which is slightly on the expensive side (a full meal starts at ten dollars).

Meanwhile, over on Capitol Hill, all burger enthusiasts should pay a visit to the Good Stuff Eatery on Pennsylvania Avenue, a popular restaurant launched in 2008 by celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, who became a household name after participating in Bravo’s reality show “Top Chef.”

The Good Stuff Eatery offers inventive, hearty gourmet burgers such as the “Good Stuff Melt” — a cheeseburger dripping with melted cheddar and muenster, topped with mushrooms and onions — as well as a wide selection of wedge salads. The well-stuffed dessert menu includes milkshakes, sundaes and handmade ice cream. Also, most of the food is relatively cheap and burgers range between five and eight dollars, while salads are priced at seven.

Also competing for the metro area’s burger throne is Ray’s Hell Burger, located in the Courthouse neighborhood of Rosslyn. President Obama and Vice President Biden stopped by here in 2009 for a surprise lunch visit. Owned by Michael Landrum, who also runs Ray’s the Steaks and Ray’s the Classics — in Arlington and Silver Spring, respectively — the popular restaurant specializes in large prime beef burgers.

For seven dollars, a customer can get a massive ten-ounce burger with any number of free toppings, including cognac and sherry sautéed mushrooms, charred jalapeños and the ominously named “Ray’s Heck Sauce.” And for an extra charge, top it off with a slice from one of fifteen different cheeses.