DBG is much more than a $700 burger, but you might not know otherwise if you only paid attention to headlines.
Rebranded from Drury Beer Garden to its current form, DBG, as of Wednesday, May 17, the brother/sister-run establishment has made waves with its latest creations. The restaurant offers a wide selection of drinks on tap, 15 different burgers, a private outdoor beer garden and live DJs thrice weekly.
Whether you’re sitting under a canopy of greenery, next to the collage of old concert posters, below the pensive eyes of a wall mural depicting Benjamin Franklin wearing headphones or out back at a picnic table, DBG creates a welcoming atmosphere for the hordes of 20-40-year-olds that dominate its barstools, booths and benches on weekends.
Naturally though, George Tsiouris and Vasiliki Tsiouris-Balis’ story has swept the press for entirely different reasons.
That $700 burger, the most expensive in Philadelphia, is a fascinating novelty. Known as the “Gold Standard,” it’s an A5 wagyu patty topped with caviar, black truffle and lobster flambéed in a $4800 bottle of Louis XIII cognac atop a bun coated in gold leaf and a 1oz pour of that Louis XIII. It spares no expense.
Very few customers in the restaurant’s lifespan will be able to afford the “Gold Standard,” let alone order it. What makes DBG special though is not that burger, although it is the one that has received the most press. Instead, it’s the antithesis to the “Gold Standard” that evokes true marketing genius.
DBG also serves the cheapest burger in the city. Priced at just $2.95, it is the least expensive restaurant-grade burger in Philadelphia.
That “restaurant-grade” label is important. Obviously, owners George Tsiouris and Vasiliki Tsiouris-Balis can’t guarantee that some fast-food chain won’t come along and sweep away their “cheapest burger” label.
But what exactly makes a “restaurant-grade” burger, as opposed to any old fast-food burger?
“We wanted to use high-quality purveyors,” Tsiouris says. The meat for those burgers comes from Creekstone Farms, just like all the other offerings at DBG.
That makes all the difference. Unlike a fast-food chain where the portion sizes are large, but the ingredients are substandard, DBG uses the opposite strategy. Its smash burger uses high-quality ingredients, but in a small serving size; it’s a scaled-down burger experience.
“The first [idea] was the cheapest [burger],” Tsiouris notes. “The cheapest was that, we wanted something super accessible.”
It’s a slight departure from the duo’s Main Line roots, and less extravagant even than the rest of their burgers, which range from $19-24.
Growing up in Havertown, Tsiouris and Tsiouris-Balis got much of their exposure to great food from their mother, who, in Tsiouris’ words, “cooked a lot.”
“I think as far as inspiration, we try to find it from wherever [we] can, but our mom first and foremost,” he adds.
That’s not the only inspiration he and his sister draw from their family though. The Hello Continental bread rolls are a direct homage to their father’s old restaurant, the Continental Inn, based in the North East.
“He used to say, ‘Hello Continental’ when he answered the phone,” Tsiouris recalls of their father, Ethimios Tsiouris.
Though their father passed away in 2018, a part of him lives on through DBG, keeping his memory alive among the customers who now echo the Continental Inn’s iconic phrase.
That bread, served brioche-style with a cream cheese cinnamon swirl, is indicative of the rest DBG’s rather imaginative menu.
The Whiz Wit is a characteristically Philly offering. Served with sliced ribeye drenched in Cooper Sharp American whiz and a healthy amount of caramelized onions atop a patty, this burger is a unique experience. The gooey cheese does a good job of keeping the sloppy Joe-style ribeye from falling out of the burger, while the pretzel bun adds a nice and salty twist to an inventive sandwich. The ribeye meat is sliced thin and cooked almost crispy on the edges. You’re going to need a napkin once you’re finished with this one, though you may be so engrossed in the flavor you’ll forget to use it until you’re finished.
The Bacon, Egg and Cheese burger is a more standard offering, but no less tasty. Served with bacon, an over-easy fried egg, sriracha mayo and Cooper American, this burger is messy from the first bite as egg yolk explodes out of the sandwich and the mayo drizzles down the sides. The flavor of the patty itself takes a backseat to the simple, yet delicious mayo and Neuske’s bacon. Plus, while the restaurant isn’t open until 4 p.m. on weekdays, DBG opens at noon on weekends, making this burger an excellent hangover cure.
Lastly, we’d be remiss to mention the “PB&J” dessert burger, which consists of fried peanut butter and jelly, bananas and bacon. While certainly not for the faint of heart, this one certainly keeps in line with the one-of-a-kind flavor profiles that DBG offers.
Not to be forgotten, the shoestring fries offered with each burger are more than a little addictive. Crispy and thin, these potato slivers offer a salty reprieve from the flavorful contents of each sandwich. Served in reasonable portions, the fries are a welcome addition to any burger on the menu.
DBG sits at 12th and Samson Streets in Philadelphia, making it a worthwhile commute from the Main Line. Owners George and Vasiliki Tsiouris make the drive every day from Merion, so what’s stopping you?
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