Big Buns

Written by on October 20, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Ballston neighborhood, Arlington, Virginia

How I heard of this place: Funny enough, my iPhone was the first place that brought Big Buns to our attention. Each time we would use the map application, when zooming in on our apartment building, we would see “Big Buns”. Last month, when a friend of ours (our first overnight house-guest) came to visit, we went for a walk…in the only direction we had yet to explore. A beautiful and cozy fountain-clad patio with restaurants and cafes lining the circular courtyard. And, thus, we found (in real life) Big Buns.

Type of cuisine: Simple, American food, created with the highest quality ingredients and gourmet inspired recipes, offered in a modern, fun atmosphere. It may sound like a lot to ask, but for four years this was our inspiration behind the first Big Buns Gourmet Grill, a place where you can custom build whatever you’re in the mood for at that very moment. It’s a place where we want to eat, and a place that we think you will too.

Ambiance: Set around a fountain-clad courtyard, Big Buns is a bright and very green, alive space. The glass door, with floor-to-ceiling windows set across the small front entrance gives way to a large, rectangular space of green walls, cream-colored walls and light birch trim. A half-wall with chalkboard, a white arrow indicating the order line, designates the cafe/seating area from the long hallway leading up to the ordering counter. Light varnished, birch tables with matching wooden chairs are evenly and adequately spaced throughout the seating area, flat-screen televisions set atop varnished wooden planks hung on the walls above. Interspersed are black and white photographs, printed in large squares, also set against matching planks. To the left of the entrance, and at the windows is bar seating, where passerby can oogle over the gargantuan culinary creations being devoured. The birch-colored half wall along the left wall lead into more bar seating and the restrooms. Above head, industrial pipes are painted in the same vibrant green, with metal lights hanging down from the ceiling shedding brightness over the tables and establishment below. The menus are set prominently above the cashier and kitchen area at the far end of the space, where last-minute splurge items, such as cookies and chips can be purchased. Fountain soda beverages and iced tea are served at a smaller counter, directly opposite the kitchen, where condiments and plastic eating utensils may be found. Green, plastic containers, doning the sign “Tips Warm MY BUNS!” are obviously noted at the front of each register, bringing smiles to our faces, as employees happily and warmly greet us, explain the menu and animatedly pose for pictures from the kitchen.

Tips Warm My Buns

What I ordered: In our four-step process, I began with an Angus Beef Burger ($6.49), seasoned and grilled. In the second step, I selected to have my burger sandwiched in a freshly baked bun. For the toppings, I chose Cheddar cheese (for an additional $.49) and the unlimited toppings: pickles, jalapenos, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions and mushrooms. For an added bonus, I selected avocado slices (additional $.79). Finally, we chose some special sauces and dressings to accompany our burgers. I requested two: Big Buns Honey Mustard and Chipotle Pesto Aioli (which also came with the fries). At the recommendation of our cashier, I selected the Sweet Potato Fries ($2.49).

Burger with the Works

My husband went with the Angus Beef Burger, doubled up (2 patties) in a bowl, served on a bed of fresh mixed greens. He chose Pepperjack cheese (additional $.49), grilled onions, mushrooms and grilled pineapple, as well as Applewood Smoked Bacon, from the Premium Toppings (additional $.79) menu. His dressing of choice: Chipotle Pesto Aioli, Potato Fries ($2.19) and a thick, handspun Strawberry Shake ($3.99) with which to wash it all down. Our third diner also selected the seasoned and grilled Angus Beef Burger, but on a Wheat Bun (additional $.29) with Swiss Cheese ($.49), shredded lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, mushrooms, pineapple and a side of Sweet Potato Fries. A cup of water with which to wash it all down.

On a return visit, July 5, 2012: It had been awhile, but Seraj was quick to come up with a reason to return to Big Buns: he was in the area. This time, I enjoyed a wheat bun with Angus beef ($6.95, plus $0.25 for wheat buns, each), topped with grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, Swiss cheese and fresh jalapenos. My two dining companions also enjoyed the Angus burgers on wheat buns, with lettuce, tomato, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and lettuce, tomato, bacon (additional $0.79), red onions. Each ordered fries, one sweet potato ($2.49) and one regular ($2.19), as well as one, small fountain soda ($1.59).

What I loved: I loved the regular fries over the sweet potato ones. I love the plethora of options and the ease of ordering. I love the huge patty of meat and the large size of burger, which fills up even the most hungry diner. The fresh jalapenos, several of which I had to remove, were the highlight of my evening burger! The thick strawberry shake perfectly balanced the spicy with the sweet.

Why I loved it: Simple. Order exactly what you want. Make it your way. The perfect opportunity to be creative even when you are not the chef.

Cost: Average ($6.39-$7.59 per burger, toppings and sides extra)

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