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August 04, 2009

Top Chef's Spike Mendelsohn Slings Top Burgers in D.C.

Although he started his career in fine dining, Mendelsohn has turned to recession-friendly comfort food at Good Stuff Eatery.
Photo: Joe Shymanski

by Ashley Cirilli

Former Top Chef star Spike Mendelsohn has had all of Capitol Hill buzzing since he opened his Good Stuff Eatery last year. Mendelsohn opted out of what he calls the "cutthroat" New York restaurant world, bringing his hip burger-and-shake restaurant to D.C. instead. The idea? Simple: Build a better burger. Now he has everyone from members of the Obama family to tourists lining up for his quirky creations: Among them, the Vegetarians Are People too 'Shroom Burger, the Big Stuff Bacon Meltdown Burger, and the Free Range Turkey Burger. There are fresh salads and fries on the menu, plus milk shakes made from Mendelsohn's own frozen custard. In the background, a feel-good sound track of classic rock and oldies plays the day away.

"You're building an experience for the customer and I have people tell me they love my playlist all the time," Spike said. "It's awesome for after a hard day of work as a politician."

The Obama Burger: bacon, blue cheese, onion marmalade, and horseradish mayo. We're told the president himself prefers the Farmhouse Cheese Burger (with cheddar).
Photo: Joe Shymanski

Mendelsohn's not stopping with the joint that's got Obama's secret service coming in to order the president a bacon cheddar burger. In addition to expanding the Good Stuff Eatery chain, he has a pizza place in the works for Capitol Hill. And somehow he has plenty of time to explore D.C.'s hot spots. Read after the jump for a list of his favorite places to wind down after a day spent over his own hot stove.

Best bar for dancing: Downstairs at Café Saint-Ex.

Best venue to see a rock band: 9:30 Club.

Best place for unique kitchenwareHill's Kitchen. "I go there for one thing and leave with ten." Most recent purchase? "A pizza stone."

Best weekend hangout spot: Great Falls, Virginia, for hiking and escapism. Bistro du Coin at night for mussels.

Best quick breakfast place: "Peregrine for organic espresso and a small pastry. They brew their coffee at the perfect temperature."

Best farmers' market: "Dupont Circle has a great farmers' market. When I first moved to D.C., I swore I'd go there every single weekend with a big market bag. I've gotten kind of busy, though."

Best sandwich: "Give me a club sandwich any day. I go to Wagshal's for that and all things fresh and rustic."

Best dessert: Good Stuff Eatery's Toasted Marshmallow Shake.

Best pre-dinner cocktail: "A glass of red wine on the rooftop of Marvin is pretty great. If I'm feeling a little Euro, some bubbly at Cafe Milano does the trick, too."

Further reading:
* Mendelsohn shows the Early Show's Maggie Rodriguez and Harry Smith how to make Obama Burgers, for the perfect inaugural party (CBS News)
* Ashley Cirilli tells you how to get a taste of Wimbledon (with a Pimm's Cup)
* Catch of the Day: International noshables


I'm also a good chef, but not that professional as the one joining in the cooking shows. A lot of people were surprised that Top Chef decided to air a rerun instead of the already scheduled new episode. Top Chef has postponed Season 6 Episode 7 until Thursday, October 8th. Doubtless, a lot of fans of the show are not amused by this point. Top Chef is one of those insufferable "reality" competition shows, which a lot of people love. (They don't tell you that restaurant work is NOTHING like that show.) The show is filming in Las Vegas, and word is that Top Chef will be returning to new episodes by next week, so everyone can rest easy  you won't need a cash until payday loan to see it, unless you didn't pay your cable bill.

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