The road to prominence has been difficult for Black and Orange whose survival was in question a year ago. The establishment was originally called Rogue State Burger when it opened its doors in Dupont Circle a couple of years ago. Chef Mendizabal decided to use his years of culinary experience and test the waters by opening up a burger establishment in one of the most competitive markets for burgers.
The decision proved to a good one as the company gained massive popularity. It was at that time that I decided try these unique burgers with a couple of friends. Our guys night out started here when we all decided to see where they would rank among the other greats. Upon scanning the menu I decided to order the Pardon My French while my other three friends decided to play it safe and order The Rogue State.
What sets Black and Orange apart from any other burger place is the emphasis placed on the seasoning of their burgers. Each individual burger consists of a patty that is infused with a number of ingredients that are intended to compliment each other. Toppings are added per the request of the customer so be aware that if you order a burger it will consist of a patty and bun.
(Jayson eating The Rogue State)
The Pardon My French consists of a half-pound patty infused with black truffle oil and thyme. I decided to add brie cheese to add an extra dimension to the flavors and go with the French theme. I also placed an order of french fries which come with a number of flavored mayonnaise similar to that of Good Stuff Eatery. The burger was spot on, the flavors were all there, it was cooked to perfection and the brie added some extra pizzaz. I also sampled the Rogue State which consists of house spice blend, chipotle, and cilantro and was pleasantly surprised.
I left with nothing but rave reviews and anticipation to try it again. I put off my next visit for a couple of months and was deeply saddened when they were forced to close because the fumes from their ventilation system were spewing into a law office. As you could probably tell that was the worst place to piss off anyone as they lawyers successfully managed to close the place down.
(Pardon My French with Brie)
Chef Mendizabal was burdened with the task of installing a new ventilation system to in order to re-open shop. The cost of the system as well as the legal fees proved too much and the store closed for a long period of time. It looked for a while as though I would never get to sample one of these burgers again but luckily chef Mendizabal made a second great decision of re-opening shop and sharing his gift with DC.
A week or so after it reopened word came out that they were also going to open up a second location on U St. which has been dying for an infusion of burger joints. Once my eyes set on this news I became elated. While the name changed the burgers stayed exactly as they were. I decided to visit the U St. location (pictured above) about a week into its existence. The decor and vibe were exactly the same and I actually got to meet chef Mendizabal and thanked him for reopening (sorry I didn't mention I was a food blogger, I don't like special treatment).
Per his recommendation I decided to try the No Burger No Cry which is on the spicy side. The patty consists of a house jerk blend, red onion, and habanero peppers to ratchet up the heat. While the burger was seasoned well it wasn't spicy at all but hey this comes from a person who puts tobasco or sriracha on just about everything.
(No Burger No Cry)
Another perk to the U St. location aside from its proximity to my house is a burger that is only served there. Named Hair of The Dog this burger is a spin on a Bloody Marry. It consists of a patty which is blended with tomatoes, horseradish, and celery which is topped with Worcestershire mayo. I'm not the biggest Bloody Marry fan so I may never try this burger but I may be swayed. I highly recommend the Now and Zen which is my favorite of all the burgers I have had. This burger draws its flavors from the far east and blend together seamlessly.
In conclusion Black and Orange lives up to its pedigree. The burgers are well flavored, the buns are solid and the fries are on par. The prices like most of DC are bit high but it is worth it especially if it is your first visit. They used to have a famous slogan of being open till 5 AM every day but they recently scaled back their hours, especially on the weekdays. My only gripe is that the wait can be a bit long from time to time and they have been known to mess up orders but who doesn't. So if you are in Dupont or U St after a long night of drinking brave the lines and give this place a shot. If you aren't a drinker come give it a try anyways because the line when you go will probably be a lot shorter.