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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review ~ Z-Burger / 2157 P St., NW

Z-ounds! Checking out its website, looks like Z-Burger is a DC phenomenon. Covered by local TV and print media, Z-Burger certainly deserves all its kudos. And that may explain why this franchise location’s owner and DC native Michael Passas added Dupont East to his group.

The newest of these is on P Street, two blocks west of Dupont Circle, and joining six other Z-Burgers, seems to have already caught the neighborhood’s attention. On a recent lazy Friday, folks drifted in as singles or with friends and ordered from the posted menu. The pick of the day, not surprisingly, was one of the burger versions from among the five different burgers choices, which include, among others, plain, with cheese, and with cheese and bacon. Others, though, ordered a hot dog and one of the cheese steak variations. Sides include fries, of course, onion rings, or a combo of the two. If you are a bacon/cheese freak, the obvious choice is the bacon cheeseburger.

Note: after placing your order, be sure to specify a preferred topping. The menu offers the standards: lettuce, tomato, mayo, and onion. But you can jack it up by requesting their “loaded” — and that is just about everything but the kitchen sink, and it’s free of charge. You can even get freshly sliced, not-pickled jalapeños. But should the cashier forget to ask, you may end up with just an undressed burger, lacking the crunch of onion and lettuce.

Another big hit here is the shake/malt/”concrete” flavor choices. The online menu noted that only 75 different flavors (!) are available; I counted about 80. While many are clearly predictable and probably big winners, some sound extremely quirky. How would a Twinkie, California Blend, or a Mounds shake taste? Five stars go to the caramel version, so thick and creamy that using a spoon is an easier bet than sipping through the provided fat straw.

Because everything is cooked to order and not stacked up in a remote oven, patrons can hang around the counter to wait and watch the line cook flipping burgers. Problem is, seating is limited and awkward. There are two high counters, but the stools neither move nor do their seats twist. Anyone with any physical limitations could not grab an indoor seat —- best to hope weather permits for sitting at one of the outdoor tables while you eat.

Maybe the best bet for locals is to order out — plenty of folks were calling ahead — and taking everything home. Clearly, however, plenty of patrons stroll up, place their orders, grab their printed food-filled sack, and head off. But if you have ordered one of their 80 or so shakes, you may simply want to grab a spoon and dig in.

Z-Burger / Hours: 11am-4am. Price range: $3.89-$7.99. 202-792-2777; www.zburger.com.

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.