Joe’s Amazing Burgers, McLean, VA

Yes, I really did scarf a burger and fries from McDo (as they call it in France (pronounced “mack doe”)) the night before. Consequently (and perhaps not intuitively), that made me yearn for an actual burger even more.

Does anyone remember the McLean Deluxe? Well, that’s where I ended up: McLean.

But at least I went and got a real hamburger. It was Civics Outline Night, and Matt and I ended up (with textbook and laptop) at Joe’s Amazing Burgers, which used to be called simply “Joe’s Burgers” before an ownership change last year.

I had a Sam Adams Winter Lager (price unknown), and Matt had a Diet Coke ($2.95). (Incidentally, just in case someone’s about to call Child Services, he generally doesn’t drink soft drinks, but I feel bad sipping a beer while he’s nursing a glass of ice water.)

You pay a premium to dine at Joe’s, an expensive burger house that gets its lamb, bison, and Berkshire pork next door from Organic Butcher. The patties are only six ounces (which, by luxury burger standards, is a bit skimpy), and they aren’t cheap. I asked our extremely nice server, “Lamb or bison?” She didn’t hesitate: lamb. So I ordered the All Natural Lamburger ($15) with feta, tzatziki sauce, green olive relish, melted onions, and baby spinach. It sounds busy, but it was really good (though I couldn’t help wishing I’d ordered a double-meat version for $5 more). All burgers at Joe’s are cooked to order, served on a butter-toasted brioche bun, and come with fries which give the impression of being high-quality frozen versions (I’d generally rather have good frozen fries than poorly cooked fresh ones).

Matt couldn’t resist a chalkboard special, The Arizona ($15), a Southwestern-styled burger with bison, bacon, cheddar, and sauteed peppers and onions.

Alas, when the burgers arrived, our kindly server realized that Matt’s order was wrong, apologized, and left my burger on the table. So we put off eating for about ten minutes while the correct order was being prepared, and continued working on our homework.

I’m not sure just what it was, but maybe something about a father and son doing homework together tugged on our server’s heartstrings, and when she dropped The Arizona off, she said it was on the house.

“You absolutely don’t need to do that,” I said.

She did anyway, and she also didn’t charge me for a second beer, and only rang up $3 for the first which appeared on the check as a “Promo Draft.”

This went way, way beyond any possible expectations of customer service, so when I paid the bill (which was a total of only $20.95 before tax), I left her a huge tip, thanked her profusely for being so nice, and left thinking, Gee, I’m going back to Joe’s after this act of kindness and giving them my future business. If this is the kind of people they hire (or perhaps she was an owner), then I want to support them.

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