Restaurants in The InTowner
The InTowner
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Restaurant Review: Burger Tap & Shake = Eat Burgers! Drink Shakes!

Ditch the New Year’s resolutions about dieting. Forget all about counting calories, at least until after you eat and drink at BTS — or, more properly, Burger Tap & Shake — the other half of Jeff Tunks’ newest DC eatery, District Commons . [Ed. Note: see December 2011 review, “District Commons = Uncommonly Good.”] What other DC burger joints lack, BTS more than makes up for, with freshly ground, 30-day aged, naturally raised Pineland Farms beef and milk shakes that will cause you to swoon, maybe even to faint.

Open only a few months, BTS has certainly hit its stride, and is apparently busy much of the day and late into the night. Fortunately, just past the usual noontime rush, you may get a seat, even if it’s a barstool at the counter. If that’s the case, you will get an up-close look at all the kitchen crew wrestling with the burgers, sweet and regular potato fries, and milk shake concoctions. Otherwise, the word on the street is that BTS can get pretty crowded.

As an added incentive to stop in for a bite or two, BTS also serves drinks it calls “Shaketails,” with you guessed it, ice cream and liquor. Example: the Apocalypto, with whisky, homemade marshmallows, and chocolate ice cream. Plus wine, canned beers, sodas, and tea join the lineup of draft beers, including some brewed by DC Brau The Corruption; Duck Rabbit Brown; and Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale — obviously not your typical beer.

But back to the food: Inside the eatery you can pick a table with takeout menu in hand or get in line, if your mind is already set on a special burger or two. You will probably have enough time to read through the options on the overhead board or the menu, but for the best taste sensations, why not head straight to the signature burgers, priced at a mere $8 each. This allows you to pick and choose from such bravura burgers as the Tejas, with Texas chili con carne (no beans); Southern Comfort with pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes; the Badger, a bratwurst burger composed of ground pork and veal and served with sauerkraut; the Haight-Ashbury, a crisped falafel patty for the vegetarians among us; and the dazzlingly heated Apache Sweat Lodge, a plump, medium burger topped with roasted green chiles, a spicy sauce, and Pepperjack cheese. What a combo, and definitely a five-napkin burger. If you are really into a side of fries, try the sweet potato ones, sprinkled with salt crystals. The menu admits these are not made in house, but they are sure good.

Finally, it’s a nod to the shake list: You’ll find such standards as vanilla and chocolate, but can you imagine a blueberry-pomegranate shake, or better yet, a candyfied BTS shake: that’s actually chopped up Butterfinger, Twix and Snickers, in case you didn’t get it. Highly addictive, this candy-saturated shake needs a spoon to get that last mouthful of crushed candy lurking at the bottom. Oh, so good.

As for the vibes: Overhead TVs and fairly loud conversations provide the ambiance, but this is a casual place, so don’t expect to make a business deal or a late-night assignation without the people sitting at the next table overhearing your chat. After all, BTS is meant to be the drop-in destination for all who crave all-American eats in a congenial atmosphere and at really, truly affordable prices. Cheers.

Burger Tap & Shake | 2200 Pa. Ave., NW; (202) 587-6258. Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11am-11pm; Fri. & Sat. to 1am; Sun. to 9pm. Price range: Burgers, $5-$9.