I think like a lot of people, pretty much the only fast food I ever eat is In-n-Out Burger. And not very often, since I don’t find myself near a suburban In-n-Out location very often.
But suddenly, there’s a near equivalent, right on the edge of Midtown. I’d been intrigued a couple years back when I saw the old gas station at 29th and P Streets being rebuilt into a 50s-style hamburger stand. The place looks great. I’m a sucker for this era of architecture. That long slim triangle of neon jutting out like a spaceship just looks like something out of a photo-realistic painting. Though after hearing that the food was greasy and not that good, I never actually bothered to go.
Apparently the Suzie Burger (part of the local 33rd St. Bistro empire) people got the message. They revamped the menu and went with higher quality ingredients. While the prices did go up, it was (mostly) worth it. I started with the double deluxe burger $4.49—a phonetic knock-off of the In-n-Out double double. But it was also similar in not being too greasy. In fact, it was really good—the highlight of the meal, the beef not too fatty but also not too dry.
The fries ($1.95 small, $2.95 for a fairly generous large) were greasier than I would have liked, and bit limp. The onion rings $3.99 didn’t come with that many rings, but had a really good batter mix, nice and spicy, some of the best I’ve had in awhile.
We all had milkshakes ($2.99 regular, $3.99). Here I have a beef. Not with the actually quality of the shake. Between the four of us, all three flavors were represented (vanilla, strawberry, Ghiradelli chocolate), and they were all fine, better than In N Out in fact. But they were advertised as “Honest” shakes. When Sofia’s chocolate shake turned out to be a lot less chocolately than my chocolate shake, I knew something was up. To me, a chocolate shake is made with chocolate ice cream, or at least a dedicated chocolate shake formula, not chocolate syrup (Ghiradelli or not) squirted into a vanilla shake. They fixed the shake right away, but still. Maybe I’m being too demanding.
We also liked the Jetsons-style motif—an homage to the futurism of the 1950s, when it somehow seemed logical that people would put all buildings on stilts (though maybe they were just anticipating global warming). It was a pleasantly cool night, and one of the big garage doors from the spots days as a service station let in a nice breeze.
There’s also lots of tables outside, which makes it too bad that an elevated section of highway 80 sits half a block away. But I’ve been told this is the only place (barely) in Midtown where you can sit outside and enjoy a $5 pitcher of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Now that really is retro.
2820 P St. (at I St.)
11 am to 10 pm daily