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Wiinky's Fresh Grill, Wilson Blvd. in Ballston - Closed Due to Lease Issues March 31, 2013


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Papi Pollo has been closed and under renovation for a few weeks now. Yesterday the third concept for this place in 1 year was revealed via a hand painted sign in the window. Wiinky's Fresh Grill (trademarked no less) will be the new name for this place. What type of food that entails, I do not know, but they do seem to be trying to improve the decor inside. The same management from Pike Grill and Papi Pollo appears to still be in control (the same fleet of Beamers and other vehicles still park there).

Can anyone confirm that the name is spelled "Wiinky's" instead of "Winky's?" Do they feature Wii or something? I can find nothing on Google no matter what I try. Coincidentally, I may be going to the Tennis Factory tomorrow which is right across the street (and if you're a tennis player, and don't know about this store, shame, shame.)

Cheers,

Rocks

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They now have a new website (with the word "draft" in the URL). I wish them well, but this is a tough location. I am not sure this menu will be enough to reverse the tide of history at this spot. I suppose it all comes down to execution. They are certainly ambitious in that the website already advertises "Franchise Oppurtunities" [sic] (hence "draft"). I thought that you needed first to establiish a brand before you start franchising, but what do I know. I seem to recall that the Thirsty Bernie website announced similar aspirations when it first opened. I just checked, and their website no longer references franchising (although they do still have a tab for Locations).

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They now have a new website (with the word "draft" in the URL). I wish them well, but this is a tough location. I am not sure this menu will be enough to reverse the tide of history at this spot. I suppose it all comes down to execution. They are certainly ambitious in that the website already advertises "Franchise Oppurtunities" [sic] (hence "draft"). I thought that you needed first to establiish a brand before you start franchising, but what do I know. I seem to recall that the Thirsty Bernie website announced similar aspirations when it first opened. I just checked, and their website no longer references franchising (although they do still have a tab for Locations).

Are these new owners?

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Are these new owners?

I just called 1-888-Wiinkys and the voice on the phone stated that they are not the same owners as the folks who ran the chicken place. He also said that they are opening today, but are still waiting on some supplies so they may miss the lunch service. They hope to open later in the afternoon. The fellow on the phone seemed very surprised that I called. He kept asking me who I was.

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I just called 1-888-Wiinkys and the voice on the phone stated that they are not the same owners as the folks who ran the chicken place. He also said that they are opening today, but are still waiting on some supplies so they may miss the lunch service. They hope to open later in the afternoon. The fellow on the phone seemed very surprised that I called. He kept asking me who I was.

The old owners, and their dumpster, disappeared a few weeks ago. I'm hoping these new business owners are careful if they are renting from the old owners. Papi pollo and Pike Grille have low 5 figures worth of tax debt still owed to Arlington County. I'd hate for a Boccato Gelato situation to happen again.

The one unique thing on their menu for the area is the Wiink burger with peanut butter.

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This past Sunday the wife and I were craving burgers. I don't particularly care for BGR (I find their rub or spice blend to be almost tongue numbingly salty), were't in the mood for Ray's Hellburger, and Good Stuff doesn't open in Crystal City until tonight, so I took to the interwebs and read some praise for this recently opened burger place. One article I read indicated that the owner is a recent George Mason grad who decided to throw his hat in the ring.

Before you even walk in two things strike you: the delicious aroma of sizzling beef, and the somewhat slap-dash way this place seems to have been put together. The latter isn't altogether a bad thing, though. Maybe my view is skewed by the knowledge that this is a first venture for a recent college grad, but it has all the appearance of a project that included many of the owner's buddies agreeing to help out with the paint job in exchange for a six pack. This vibe extends to the restaurant's interior which is decorated with dorm room style posters, some laser printed photos of their food, and a flat screen tv playing sports. On to the food.

The menu features lots of non-burger items that I would be interested in trying in the future - some citrus-chile wings, hot dogs with interesting toppings, and cheesesteaks are just a few things that stuck out in my mind. This is as good a time as any to mention that Wiinky's is open until 3:00am. This, together with the eclectic and energetic selection of music being pumped through the speakers, and the aforementioned no-frills college hangout vibe probably makes this a wonderful place to stumble into after the bars.

I ordered the Wiinky burger - cheese, sauteed onions, bacon, and peanut butter (yes, I know...trendy, gimmicky, but delicious), while my wife ordered a simple cheeseburger with lettuce and sauteed onions. We shared a large basket of curly fries and would have ordered a few shakes but they don't offer milkshakes yet (the guy at the counter indicated that they were working on getting milkshakes in the future). I'll start with the negative which was the fries. Maybe it's our fault for ordering curly fries but they seemed very processed, frozen style curly fries with some coating (or was it the oil they were fried in?) that left an odd, unpleasant aftertaste on your tongue. If I went back I'd try their regular fries, but I fear they may follow suit. In a market where many of these burger joints hand cut fresh potatoes and fry them fresh it's nearly impossible for a processed or frozen fry to match up. Unless of course they're McDonald's fries.

The good news is the burgers were delicious. The buns struck just the right balance of starting off hearty enough to hold in all the goodies, but ending up sticky and gooey once they've soaked up the juices. The patty actually tasted like meat! Delicious meat! And not only that, but I could taste the meat through the toppings - something that should be second nature but often isn't in this world of burgers topped with salsa, onion straws, avocado, barebcue sauce, and seared foie gras (says the guy who ordered his burger with peanut butter). The bacon was crisp without being overdone, the cheese was melty and delicious, and the sauteed onions added some sweetness and depth of flavor that I enjoyed. The peanut butter is something that should be tried at least once. I found that it added only a slight peanuty taste to the burger but enhanced the natural taste of the meat, and added an awesome richness and mouthfeel which was quite enjoyable. I'd order the same burger again. The one drawback of the Wiinky burger is that it lacks any other veggies - notably lettuce, which is a personal favorite on burgers. My wife's standard cheeseburger was exactly that, but well executed and delicious - my next order will likely be some version of the Wiinky but which adds lettuce and some ketchup or mustard to balance out the richness. If I had the run of the place I'd maybe play around with some lightly pickled onions, but that's just me.

Unfortunately for ambiance and for the future of this business endeavor, it was totally empty when we were there. It was about 2:30 on a Sunday, so far from prime time, but it is always dismaying to be the only party in an entire restaurant. If you're craving burgers and are sick of the over-marketed trendy spots we've all seen/heard of/tried before, and want to support a local business at the same time, I would certainly suggest giving Wiinky's a try. I will certainly be back for more!

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Had Wiinkys on Friday with friends. Was going to walk there from Clarendon, but the storms had me (and the dogs freaked) so we ordered

take out instead. (GREAT ONLINE ORDERING WEBSITE) - http://www.wiinkys.com

My husband picked everything up and said he did couldnt see any evidence of Beer/Wine being sold there.

The thought of a burger take out usually makes me wince, but they came still very warm and non soggy.

The mushroom swiss burger I had was delish! My friend Mary had the Hawaian Hot Dog with pineapple and loved it.

Curly Fries were good too.

We were all to chicken to try the Peanut Butter burger. Elvis flashbacks I guess!

Website said CASH only, but I hear they have an ATM onsite.

Check them out! I'll be back.

Maybe try and bring in a bottle of wine or beers when you go and actually sit there (just incase).

-Wendy

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My husband picked everything up and said he did couldnt see any evidence of Beer/Wine being sold there.

I don't think they sell beer or wine, but honestly, I kind of forgot to look.

A sign says they're open until 3 AM (!) Thursday through Saturday.

This is Sysco City, serving variations of burgers, hot dogs, and chicken wings, unabashedly storing industrial cans of Hunt's Tomato Paste in the open.

It's basically a flat-top and a fryer.

Despite having a perfectly fine order of Chili ($2.95, worth ordering), which really caught my eye because the menu said it was "cooked six hours," I had Wiinky's too high in the Ballston dining guide.

They're big on WiFi, and I wonder if the pronunciation is like "Wine Keys" - they should think about changing their name.

(I guess I could have asked, or I could call and see how they answer the phone.)

There is a certain charm to their colorful, slapdash menu (think: Little Mexico)

This place is lovable like an ugly dog is lovable.

It was empty at noon, and the change I threw into the aluminum tip jar clanged around at the bottom - the jar was empty.

Okay, the "change" was only a quarter, but I don't want to sound cheap.

This should be a valuable piece of real estate, but for whatever reason, this stretch of Wilson Blvd. is underdeveloped (but only on the south side).

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I've eaten there twice now. The first time, although they said it would take 10 minutes because they cook it fresh, my burger was hot on the outside and lukewarm on the inside. I hate when burger places pre-cook their burgers and then heat them up when someone orders them (I'm looking at you BGR and Five Guys). So I was disappointed. I did like the brioche bun. The 2nd time I went, the burger was hot through and through so my experience was much better. I do plan on giving them a 3rd try sometime soon although it doesn't square with my new "healthy" diet goal.

The place is kind of scuzzy and nothing to write home about, but if the burger is good I don't care.

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Yeah, I have to go by and have one last burger before they close for good. I hope they open a new place soon.

And I hope that they get the liquor license that was mentioned in the article. That's the biggest reason why I hadn't stopped by for dinner...

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