Date night. I hear it is something the kids (not mine) are still doing. Couples are happily eating out at Thunder Burger and Bar in Georgetown, going to the movies and even experiencing the theater. Yet my husband and I can’t seem to figure it out now that we are living just outside of Washington, D.C.
While living in Seattle we had our system pretty much down. We had our sitters. We had our favorite places. Date night was easy… as long as we remembered to do them. With two kids both under age 6, date nights have not always been our top priority.
Date Night at Thunder Burger and Bar
After returning from a 5-week trip to Europe with the boys, only one week of which my husband was with us, I knew we needed a date night and soon. When Fortessa Tableware solutions, a leading provider of dishware for restaurants and high-end hotels that is also available to consumers, asked me to chat with Chef Ryan Fichter, the meat genius in the kitchen at Thunder Burger and Bar, I knew this was something my husband and I could not miss.
It was the perfect excuse for a date night in Georgetown, a trendy neighborhood in Washington, D.C. and home to Georgetown University. We booked the sitter and were giddy with anticipation, as we looked towards our first night out alone together in months. Yes, months. Too many months.
Meet Chef Ryan Fichter
At 36 years old, Chef Ryan has gotten around the restaurant industry. Not only is he the chef at Thunder Burger and Bar, but he has also headed up Bodega and Rialto in D.C. He went to school at the Culinary Institute of America and has sharpened his knives at restaurants around the country including Clyde’s in Reston, VA, the Ritz Carlton and the Royal Kona Resort in Hawaii.
At Thunder Burger he likes to look at the meat he is preparing and where it comes from as he works up the flavors to add to the patty and bun. Alligator might be paired with creole flavors, while the humble beef burger takes on a whole new twist as it is topped with pulled pork and crispy onions, foie gras or gorgonzola.
Wild Wednesdays at Thunder Burger
The thing that sets this burger joint above the rest is their Wild Wednesdays. The standard menu is impressive enough, with an eclectic array of protein to choose from, but Wednesday is when they crank it up a notch (or twenty).
Anything and everything goes as Chef Ryan serves up the exotic, whether it is ostrich, caribou, black bear or wild boar. As soon as my husband found out about Wild Wednesday he declared we would be back. Keep in mind that we hadn’t even eaten the food yet!
I think my husband developed a little man crush on Chef Ryan as the conversation turned to preparing python for consumption. It takes hours to make this meat tender enough to put on a plate. Who knew? My husband is always up for trying something new and finding a chef who can prepare it for him just makes him giddy. Once we finished chatting, the really fun part began—the tasting.
Taste Your Way Through the Thunder Burger Menu
The menu is extensive enough for you to wonder, which would be your best bet as you eat here for the first time.
Let me help you- skip the build your own burger option. Taste what the chef has already come up with and go from there. The Pig in a Cow Suit (beef burger, with cheddar, BBQ pulled pork, tobacco onions & remoulade) is easily one of the favorites on the menu and for good reason. I mean come on, pulled pork on top of a cheese burger! Why didn’t I think of this first? I went back and forth between the Pig in a Cow Suit, the Love Me Tender ( Kobe beef burger, with Tillamook aged white cheddar, tomato & remoulade) and the Ventura Highway (beef burger, with brie, caramelized red onion relish & watercress, tomato & remoulade).
Let’s get real though. Pulled pork on a burger will win every time my stomach has a say in the matter. I never say no to a good pig. My husband quickly grabbed the Buffalo Stomp (bison burger, wrapped in bacon. grilled onion, gorgonzola blue cheese,tomato & remoulade). I thought he would have gone for the elk or veal burger, but no, he loves a good bison burger and hadn’t had one in a many years. Not that many restaurants out here serve them as you might have guessed.
Meat dominates the menu (it is a burger joint after all), but have no fear vegetarians. You can get the falafel or Portobello burgers. Pescetarians (those who only eat fish, not red meat) can indulge in a jumbo lump crab cake or ahi tuna fillet as well. There is something for everyone on the menu, as long as you like to eat well and aren’t afraid of unexpected flavor combinations.
As my husband and I kicked back and saw plate after plate come out of the kitchen, we were amazed that burgers, truly a simple dish when made in their most basic form, could be so beautifully created and presented.
This is no accident. Chef Ryan is on the Chef Round Table for Fortessa, which means he gets to give feedback on the new ideas coming out of the Fortessa design department. He tries out what works and doesn’t work in the kitchen, so every dish he presents looks beautiful and shows off his creations to the best of its ability.
After all, chefs aren’t your standard home cooks they are artists. They want their meals to be beautiful not only in taste, but in appearance as well.
Don’t Skimp on Dessert
Our last dish (dessert) came to the table– a light and fluffy Guinness Chocolate Cake with a raspberry sauce. The Belgian chocolate whipped ganache was fluffy like a mousse and didn’t overpower like thick ganaches tend to do. Although we had eaten our fill and even had a bag of leftovers to take home, we found that little pocket in everyone’s stomach that is reserved for dessert, no matter how full you may think you are.
After all, there is ALWAYS room for dessert.
Date Night Accomplished
Bellies full and plates mostly emptied, we said our farewells to Chef Ryan and his staff. The restaurant, which we had entered at 5:30pm, was in full swing by almost 8pm with families, couples and singles at the bar enjoying their meals before and after their day’s activities. The décor mixed rustic and rock n’roll to create a comfortable space to bring your kids, but also hang out with friends for a late night burger and beer.
My husband and I, not quite ready to go back to the house and be parents again, wandered through the shops of Georgetown and a few of the side streets of this historic neighborhood. We both love the old architecture and dreamed of the massive houses we would never be able to afford one day.
Walking off a few of those burger pounds was a side benefit, but the leftovers would keep our bellies full until the next morning.
Washington, D.C. Travel Resources
Your Washington, D.C. vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve got the resources you need to plan your trip and make the most out of your time in the city and surrounding area. If this is your first time to the capital region, check out our Washington, D.C. trip planner and itineraries.
For transportation, check out our D.C. driving guide and our guide on how to ride the metro. For those flying in, you’ll want to read our guides to BWI, DCA and IAD airports.
Dive into our things to do in D.C., which is always being updated and evolving to make sure you have the latest and greatest activities to fill your checklist of things to do. Don’t forget about food, the real reason we all travel, right? Our Washington, D.C. restaurant guide will get you started and lead you into neighborhoods full of delicious treats.
For more resources, check out our pages on Baltimore, Richmond and beyond.
Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.
Budget: When it comes to Washington, D.C. budget hotels, prices vary depending on the season. In the middle of October, a four-star hotel could be under $150, while in December it may be over $400. At any given time of year, though, Hotel Hive is a safe bet for value when it comes to resting your head. If you are looking for a hostel, Hi Washington D.C. Downtown is well located for exploring all of the D.C. museums, restaurants and bars at the fraction of the price of a hotel. Check rates and availability here.
Mid-range: Every USA hotel chain can be found in Washington, D.C., but stay at the St. Gregory Hotel when you want a local touch. The modern, light-filled rooms will welcome you to the city, whether you are in a studio or suite with wraparound terrace. The hotel is walking distance to Georgetown, the National Mall and Embassy Row, making it easy to explore without a rental car. Check rates and availability here.
Luxury: You are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury hotels in Washington, D.C. We love cozying up at the Graham Georgetown, a sweet little boutique hotel in one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. Check rates and availability here. Major hotel brands like The Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C. and St. Regis Washington D.C. all have outposts here as well. If you want something a bit more historic, we recommend The Jefferson, Washington D.C. Ninety-nine rooms in this luxury boutique hotel bring together an attentive staff, petite spa, and the Michelin-starred Plume restaurant with all of the history you could hope for when you are in the nation’s capital. Check rates and availability here.
Family-friendly: We always gravitate towards the Kimpton hotels whenever we are traveling with kids. Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington D.C., once the General Post Office building, is located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood just four blocks off the National Mall near the National Gallery of Art. Price point is mid-range, depending on the time of year you visit. Parents will love the nightly wine events and evening nightcap perks as well as complimentary coffee and a tea bar each morning. Kids will love that they can borrow a fish friend for their stay, and that there is always a treat on hand that they can enjoy, and the robes are just their size. Kimpton also has adult and child-size bikes to borrow so you can cruise around town during your stay. Check rates and availability here.
Planning a Trip to Washington, D.C.? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Whether you are traveling domestically or coming from an international destination, travel insurance is a must for anyone coming to Washington, D.C. You will be exploring both inside and outdoors; hiking may even happen if you get adventurous. You could find yourself on a Segway or bike tour. The city is highly populated and accidents and crime do happen. This is not to scare you, but to prepare you for what could occur when you are checking out the free museums, exploring neighborhoods, finding the best food and learning about the local street art. Should something happen, travel insurance has you covered. Check rates and availability here.
We recommend and use Allianz Travel insurance. Our family is covered under a household plan, but their individual plans are just as robust if you are a solo traveler or a couple looking to get away. I’ve been a customer for more than five years and have always been in good hands with the Allianz team.
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Washington DC Tours
Many thanks to Thunder Burger and Fortessa for providing our meal for the purposes of this post. I was also compensated for my participation in this campaign. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.