We often get the request from our readers to talk about what we do on those occasions when we go out. Gluten-free is often difficult for people in and of itself, let alone paleo or grass-fed or organic or nightshade-free or any one of the other strict requirements that individuals may have with their own paleo template. In response to those requests, we’ve decided to start a local restaurant review series of places that we eat at in the tri-state Metro DC area (if you’re not local, that’s Northern Virginia, District of Columbia, and Southern Maryland).
These will cover all types of restaurants that we enjoy, but every one will have something special about them that makes them relevant to our gluten-free and paleo readership. So, to kick off the series, we chose the most paleo-friendly restaurant we know and one we eat out at most often, Elevation Burger.
Style: Fast Casual (Fast casual restaurants prepare food quickly, but to order. Wait time usually 5-10 minutes)
Price: About $10 for burger and fries.
Where: Originally in Falls Church, Virginia, but recently franchised across the US (and also Dubai, Riyadh, Kuwait City and Merida, Mexico)
Why is it special?
Elevation Burger features 100% grass fed beef, organic produce, and one of the first genuinely usable lettuce wraps we ever encountered. It is pretty easy to get a completely Paleo meal here. Additionally, only the french fries are fried in their olive oil fryer, rendering moot the shared fryer contamination issue of almost every other restaurant.
Secretly, DC has had a terrific burger scene for years and years. Many years ago, I visited the original location for Five Guys, the original DC export. Now lots of chains are originating from DC, including BGR and Good Stuff Eatery. In fact, Obama has made quite a splash loving DC’s burger scene! But the one that has always stood out to us is Elevation Burger. When we stepped into the original Falls Church spot and saw a menu filled with grass-fed beef and organic lettuce and crispy olive oil fries, we were immediately impressed. Later, when they started expanding, it really meant something to us personally that a quality, real food, restaurant was a hit. Maybe this means our food philosophy is taking root in the wider world?
menu graphic by TripAdvisor.com
The beef is juicy, well seasoned, and not at all gamey like some grass-fed beef can be. It’s fried on the griddle on demand and comes out hot. The lettuce wrap is crisp and fresh and does not fall apart in your hands. If you choose cheese, it’s sharp organic cheddar or recently Swiss cheese was also added. The fries are also organic potatoes or sweet potatoes and are fried in olive oil, which is fairly unique. While we’d prefer tallow or lard, it’s a rare spot to not use rancid seed oils in their fryer!
Additionally, they have organic salads and, the kids’ favorite side, mandarin oranges. They even offer Paleo-friendly drink options, like flavored seltzer water or organic cane sugar based root beer! Of course they also serve two different kinds of “without the guilt” burgers for your vegan or vegetarian friends, and now serve cage-free organic chicken strips and sandwiches as well. If you want dessert, the organic milkshakes, especially the chocolate, are a special treat. When Stacy was pregnant (pre-Paleo) she declared their chocolate milkshake THE best in the area!
Last, but not least, we’ll mention they have some really fantastic toppings and options, like a “Vertigo Burger” which is as many patties as you can stack! Unfortunately they can only lettuce wrap two – but they’ll give you however many you want on a bed of lettuce for those with a super-charged hunger.
What We Order
First off: yes, we eat cheese on our burgers. We found that after five years on Paleo our guts have healed to tolerate moderate amounts of high quality dairy, and the cheddar at Elevation Burger is the real stuff – not the plastic processed cheese-like-food-product you’ll find at most places.
Stacy: Lettuce wrapped Elevation Burger (2 patties), cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms.
Matt: Lettuce wrapped Elevation Burger (2 patties),
Cole: Lettuce wrapped Elevation Burger (2 patties), 1 of each cheese (Swiss & cheddar), sauteed mushrooms, pickles, extra lettuce, ketchup, and elevation sauce on the side.
Finian: Lettuce wrapped Elevation Burger (2 patties) OR kid’s burger (1 patty) with bacon, 1 of each cheese (Swiss & cheddar), mayonnaise, sauteed mushrooms.
Wesley: Lettuce wrapped kid’s burger (1 patty or “circle meat” as he calls it), cheddar cheese, pickles, and ketchup.
We usually share 2 regular fries among the whole family, they’re BIG! We think there’s corn starch on the sweet potato fries, so we usually avoid them.
If you’re looking for a place to get high quality food quickly and affordably, we can’t recommend a better place in the DC Metro area!