Juicy, greasy and dripping with flavor, the hamburger is a taste of its own. With each bite, this succulent layer of meat seems to melt in your mouth. Grease drips from the freshly-ground patties, your fingers still slick from those salty French fries. It’s the good life, and now, thanks to Elevation Burger, a chain that is rapidly spreading across the East Coast, celiacs can enjoy this delectable meal more easily than ever.
With only seven locations nationwide, Elevation has yet to reach most American consumers. But judging by the popularity of our local Falls Church, Virginia location, this burger chain is gaining traction, and quickly. At lunchtime, it’s rare to find a parking spot in Elevation’s lot. And once you do actually find a spot, dozens of people are waiting in line inside, standing below signs touting the burger joint’s free-range, antibiotic-free beef. Another sign informs customers that its fries are gluten-free, cooked in olive oil that touches nothing else, meaning there is no chance of cross-contamination with breaded chicken and other gluten-containing items that often share a deep fryer.
And as far as gluten-free food goes, French fries are at the top of my list, especially when they can toe that delicate line between grease and salt. Too much grease, and sogginess sets in, making you wonder whether the fries have become equal parts potatoes and equal parts grease. Too much salt, and your mouth burns with thirst after only a few bites, leaving your drink empty and your fry tray full. Nonetheless, Elevation balances the two extremes just right, and these thin-cut fries align perfectly with my 20-year-old taste buds.
Elevation also heats its buns on a separate grill from the meat, allowing those with celiac disease to order a lettuce wrap burger and French fries without the chance of bun remnants sticking to the patties. We spoke with the staff, and they seemed quite knowledgeable about the concerns of celiacs, providing a level of gluten-free awareness that is almost unheard of among fast food joints.
The burger itself is juicy and delicious. It even tastes fresh – the meat is ground on-site, offering a flavor that is unmatched by other area burger joints. Elevation doesn’t provide gluten-free buns, but the lettuce wrap is definitely a nice substitute; I found it refreshing and very enjoyable. The only turn-off was that the moisture-laden lettuce is often difficult to grip without a napkin or something else to help you hold on.
Elevation is priced reasonably – a double cheeseburger lettuce wrap with fries and a drink will set you back around $10, approximately in line with other specialty fast-food chains. Right now, Elevation Burger has locations in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Texas, but is soon expanding to Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.
The company only began franchising in 2008, so it didn’t quite make the most recent edition of our Restaurant Guide. However, the Newport Rib Company, with three California locations in Costa Mesa, Ladera Ranch and Long Beach, offers a gluten-free burger that even includes a gluten-free bun upon request. Tuttoriso of Staten Island, New York and Ivory Jacks in Goldstream Valley, Alaska are two more of the ten restaurants listed in our guide that offer gluten-free hamburger buns.
Now that you’ve heard about our favorite burger places, we’d like to hear about yours! Tell us about your favorite place and be sure to let us know where it’s located!