IF YOU GO
Flat Top Burger,
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m., seven days a week.
Try this: The chickpea salad. “We added a chickpea salad on the menu for all our fans of Chickpea. It’s got all of the ingredients people would use when they’d come to Chickpea to build their bowl, in the salad,” says Flat Top manager Rachel Vaitiare.
Zoom down Route 1 toward Old Town, past Potomac Yard, and a large building appears out of the blue on the passenger-side of your car. It’s not a mirage: Flat Top Burger has established its presence there, on the cusp of several neighborhoods and adjacent to the thoroughfare. And it’s earning its spot as a highway landmark worth stopping into.
“What we wanted to do is provide something that was very quick, simple, easy, and consistent, in a fun, friendly environment for people to come in and relax,” said manager Rachel Vaitiare. From the pressed-for-time lunch crowd to the after-soccer family outings, Flat Top is aiming to be an anchor for many groups.
Route 1 observers will note that the burger joint’s building used to be home to a Mediterranean restaurant, Chickpea. Run by the same owners as the current Flat Top Burger, the Greek theme didn’t quite hit the mark for the area and the team reoriented itself to a more American-fare menu. Flat Top Burger opened in December 2016 and has seen success since.
“With this location, we have a lot (of) families with children, and we were noticing it was hard to get everyone fed with the food we were serving” at Chickpea, Vaitiare said. “… (Flat Top’s) food translates over to everyone — we can serve a broader demographic.”
And the customizable menu reaches many, indeed. Order a single or a double hamburger patty — cooked on the eponymous flat-top grill — and select from a number of toppings, both free and premium, to make your order your own.
“We try to keep it as simple as possible; that way you can come in, order your food, have a seat, and we’ll take care of the rest,” Vaitiare said.
Not in the mood for a burger? Not a problem. A popular non-burger order turns out to be the chicken club, made with Texas toast, applewood bacon, Duke’s mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato.
And vegetarians won’t be disappointed by the veggie burger; it’s become a fast-moving menu item for all.
“The veggie burger has been very popular, especially among people who aren’t vegetarian,” Vaitiare said. “It’s a quinoa-based burger with cashews and bulgur wheat.”
It’s best to save some room for dessert to make way for Flat Top’s milkshakes. Concocted with house-made custard, they were a steady seller even in the dead of winter. In the coming months, the restaurant is aiming to perfect an adult version of the custard, as well, starting with a beer-infused variety.
“We have a milk stout that we wanted to do to make a grown-up root-beer float,” Vaitiare says.
As winter turns to spring and spring to summer, Flat Top continues its goal of growing its presence in the community.
“It’s been great. We’ve been received well from the community. People seem to like Flat Top Burger; they love the concept, the atmosphere,” Vaitiare said. “It’s a relaxed environment where most people can find something they can enjoy. We’re having a lot of fun.”
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.