You don’t have to open your mouth comically wide to get a balanced bite of patty, bun, and toppings at Eat Brgz. The local brand, which launched on Capitol Hill about six months before the pandemic reached D.C., engineers its burgers differently by mixing fixings straight into patties and serving sauces on the side. Founder Brandon Gaynor says neighborhood regulars are most fond of the Mexico City burger that folds chorizo, red onions, bell peppers, jalapeños, Oaxaca cheese, and taco seasoning into a patty.
Soon you’ll be able to order the Mexico City and other “brgz” before or after attending a game or concert at the Capital One Arena. Eat Brgz hopes to open in the former Legal Sea Foods space at 704 7th St. NW in the spring of 2022, just in time for the NBA and NHL playoffs. Gaynor is excited a local brand will have a shot at competing with national chains that dominate the street. (Chick-fil-A is planning to open in the spot next door.)
The restaurant will be double the size of the original Eat Brgz and can seat up to 70 people. Despite having a bigger space and kitchen, Gaynor says he won’t expand the food menu. They are, however, making a foray into having a full bar with beer, wine, and cocktails. Maybe you’ll be able to order mrgz with your brgz. “We’re keeping the same mentality,” he says. “Quick, quality, and for the right price. Craft cocktails on tap for $10. This isn’t a $17 drink.”
All brgz start at $9 and Eat Brgz prioritizes customization. First you choose your mix-ins and whether you want a beef, chicken, or Impossible patty. Then you pick whether you want your brgz on a potato roll from Lyon Bakery, a pita, a house-made, gluten-free cauliflower bun, or a bed of kale. You can add sides like fries or crispy Brussels sprouts. Milkshakes come fortified with protein, which Gaynor says makes parents happy.
He envisions his “modern burger bar” having multiple speeds. He hopes families can come to the Chinatown Eat Brgz just as comfortably as bar goers who stop for a few rounds before crossing the street to the arena. Even though they’re not going for a sports bar feel, there will be TVs. Expect a bright, white space. “We’re trying to maintain a modern look,” Gaynor says. “We still like a clean aesthetic.”
A stairway connects the forthcoming Eat Brgz and subterranean watering hole Rocket Bar. Gaynor is toying with the idea of developing a partnership similar to the one Shake Shack and Players Club have in Logan Circle. Ian Hilton’s retro game bar partnered with the Danny Meyer chain to help patrons fill their stomachs between rounds.
Gaynor credits the staff and customers at the Capitol Hill location next to Eastern Market for getting his business through the pandemic and putting him in a position to expand, starting with Chinatown. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those two things,” Gaynor says. “The community stuck with us through the maturation of the concept and through the craziest pandemic ever.”
Eat Brgz, 704 7th St. NW; eatbrgz.com