*UPDATE, 6/24*: President Obama took Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Ray's Hell-Burger in Arlington, VA this afternoon for cheddar-cheeseburgers -- Medvedev's spicy, Obama's traditional. See photos and read about it here.
Previous story below:
ARLINGTON, Va. — It's like this: When you want a burger, you have to have a burger. In this state of mind, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took a short _ but wholly noticeable _ motorcade ride from the White House to Virginia and pulled into a small, independent burger joint called Ray's Hell Burger.
The two leaders went right up to the counter where the meat was being grilled and ordered.
Each fetched cash from his pocket and paid, and then the pair stood like the rest and waited for their number to be called before going to a table.
The restaurant, which prides itself on premium aged 10-ounce burgers, sits in a small strip plaza. The burgers sell for $6.95.
A slideshow of Obama and Biden raising "Hell":
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Here's the full pool report, by Linda Feldmann of the Christian Science Monitor:
Pool Report No. 1
May 5, 2009
Barack and Joe dine out
Forget about "12:30 lunch in Oval Office, closed press" per daily guidance. POTUS and VPOTUS hit the road -- to Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, VA (Wilson Blvd).
Pool was called last minute for an OTR, extra-large motorcade departed White House at 12:26 p.m. Arrived at Ray's at 12:31. POTUS and VPOTUS entered thru the front door, pool entered thru the back. Obama and Biden waited their turn in line. After a few moments, Obama looked toward pool and said, "Who's taking orders here? My treat to the pool."
"Who wants a burger?" Obama said.
Then, to Caren Bohan of Reuters: "You're in charge of taking everybody's orders."
Some declined, but others of us (your pooler included) didn't want to seem ungracious, so we ordered burgers. Note: The five of us who did order are making a donation to charity, in lieu of attempting to reimburse POTUS. Caren noted that Obama has fed the press before, such as during campaign, when he bought ice cream.
While Obama and Biden waited in line, the lunch crowd stood and gawked, some took pix with cell phones. The two guys in line ahead of them studied their menus, oblivious to who was behind them.
When Obama and Biden reached the front, Obama greeted the two order-takers. The guy who took Obama's order and money was Tim Murray. There's still some debate among press on exactly what Obama ordered, since it was hard to hear. He definitely had a burger. I heard him say "basic cheeseburger, medium well." But someone else heard him say "Swiss mushroom burger." He definitely asked Mr. Murray for "spicy mustard, if you have it." There may have also been talk of tater tots.
Then Obama took an order for Reggie Love, and relayed the press's order as well. "These are to go, cuz you guys aren't gonna have tables."
Then: "We're paying, or these people [the pool] are gonna write about how we're free-loading."
Obama pulled out some bills and paid, putting a $5 bill in the tip jar.
Biden ordered a swiss cheese burger with jalapeno peppers.
Biden paid for his order separately, with cash. He also got some food to go.
Then Obama said to the pool: "You guys are cheap dates. I can't believe I couldn't get more of you to order a burger."
Obama and Biden sat at a table and had their lunch, while the pool waited outside. At 1:05, they emerged. Crowds cheered as Obama stood on the running board of his limo and waved.
Both men wore dark suits and white shirts. Obama's tie was maroon with black stripes, Biden wore blue tie.
Motorcade back at White House at 1:14 pm. Obama and BIden emerged from the same limo.
I'm still waiting for my burger.