Read Queenedix’s previous food truck reviews here. Follower her on twitter @queenedix.
Roadside burger stands are as American as apple pie, the bald eagle, and having to hold 30 different televised debates before a political party can select a presidential nominee. As a kid, my favorite outings were occasional family trips to the local drive-up burger joint. Whether you sat in the car eating, took your food to the local 4th of July fireworks display or drive-in movie park, or simply headed home, the opportunity to order a freshly-made, high-quality burger, better and faster than any fast-food joint, was something special. The mental image of it is downright nostalgic, and I’d imagine this nostalgia is part of what drove the excitement when Dorothy Moon’s Gourmet Burgers announced their presence last fall.
DC is no stranger to the burger craze. Bobby Flay offers one with watercress and goat cheese, locally-grown Five Guys seems to be on every corner, and the abundance of places like Shake Shack, Good Stuff Eatery, Black and Orange, and Columbia Height’s (coming soon?) Z Burger indicates there must be demand somewhere in this city for MORE CHEESEBURGERS. With so much competition, new places have to sell a pretty darn amazing burger to stay in the game. Unfortunately, Dorothy Moon’s roadside novelty might not be enough to keep it in the game against the big players.
Dorothy Moon Burgers
“Dorothy Moon’s Gourmet Burgers” is a lot of things. The truck is a cheery bright purple; the menu is abundant with topping options; and the prices are extremely reasonable ($6 for a single patty, $2 more for a double, and $4 more for a triple). However, the truck is poorly named, being nowhere near “gourmet.” I tried four different combinations of burgers over the course of a few weeks, going back to re-test a basic order a few times. The topping selections are as follows: lettuce, tomato, sautéed onions, teriyaki mushrooms, bacon, a fried egg, teriyaki sauce, hot sauce, mayo, mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, and sriracha. Cheese options include cheddar, swiss, and provolone. I attempted a variety of combinations, including: Traditional (cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, mustard, and a little mayo), Asian-influenced (teriyaki mushrooms, onions, teriyaki sauce, sriracha, and provolone), and a “farmhouse” burger (lettuce, tomato, fried egg, bacon, onions, cheddar cheese). The burgers are very, very similar to Five Guys in terms of size, composition, and appearance.
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There were a number of issues with every burger I tried, every time I ate there. First, the burger patties are totally unseasoned and cooked well. While I assume the cooking standards have to do with health department rules in food trucks, the lack of any sort of seasoning on the meat meant the burgers tasted of char and grease, but not of much else, and they were often dry in the middle (not helped by the presence of egg or cheese). There was also at least one ingredient completely left off my burger every time I ordered there—my traditional burger had no ketchup or mayo (I opened each burger up to inspect before eating), but it had a LOT of mustard on the bottom bun, which meant that each bite began with mustard coating your mouth, making it impossible to taste much else.
I had the same problem on my Asian burger—no teriyaki sauce at all, but a lot of sriracha on the bottom bun, again making for overwhelming heat. The buns are also quite small and fall apart very easily, resulting in the use of a fork (a weak criticism, given that Five Guys can have the same problem—except that they grill their buns). The farmhouse-style burger was better, because the bacon and egg gave a lot of flavor—but it was not comparable to other “gourmet” egg-and-bacon-topped burgers around town. Half of the time, the cheese had melted completely, but not every time. The guys running the truck also forgot something else every single time I visited—having to walk back and wait in line to retrieve a forgotten soda, napkins, or chips is not fun. I gave this particular truck a lot of chances to prove itself against the brick-and-mortar places, but I think it has a ways to go in terms of execution before it gets there. In the meantime, my next burger craving is going to have to be satisfied elsewhere.