Nearly two years ago I stumbled across a small, animal loving burger joint in Leesburg, Virginia called MELT Gourmet Cheeseburgers after hearing a few positive reviews from friends.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t expecting too much. Northern Virginia, somewhat surprisingly, is a kind of a Mecca for a good burger. Five Guys started here and other fancy burger chains like BurgerFi, BGR, Smashburger, Elevation Burger, Kraze Burger and more (yes, I could go on) keep popping up all over the place.

I found all these burgers to be good, but not really exceptional and that is exactly what I was expecting from MELT. But oh, was I in for a delicious surprise.

My first surprise came right away when I initially entered the restaurant. The first thing I noticed was that even as a new restaurant the place was PACKED. I waited in line to place my order with the sweetest woman, who I later learned was Debbie Hancotte – one of the two owners of the restaurant.

I ordered an ice tea and was handed a red cup with ice to be filled with fresh brewed ice tea behind me. That’s right no drink fountains! I am a sucker for fresh brewed ice tea at restaurants, so without even tasting the food I was already a big fan.

No drink fountains at MELT Gourmet Cheeseburgers! Just fresh brewed ice tea!

The grill is manned by the other owner, Steve Hancotte, and is right in view of everyone in the restaurant. While waiting in line to order, you get a front row seat to watch the cooks prepare burgers, fries, and more.

MELT Gourmet Cheeseburgers grill

After placing my order, I looked around and was thrilled to see poster sized photos of dogs, cats, and more all over MELT’s walls. All of those pets were adoptable and MELT was helping them find their forever homes. While the photos on MELT’s walls keep changing, they are always full of pets who need a home.

Adoptable pets at MELT Gourmet Cheeseburgers

But MELT doesn’t stop there. In fact, since opening in April 2012 they have raised over $20,000 for Loudoun County Animal Shelter.

How do they raise this money?
They don’t take tips. They take donations for the animal shelter!

MELT Gourmet Cheeseburgers asks for donations for homeless animals, not tips.

They even have a small pet friendly seating area complete with a cold water bowl out front of the restaurant because unfortunately the Health Department frowns on bring pets inside. Luna made her first visit out this past weekend and wishes she could have gotten a burger for herself.

Luna waits for a taste of a MELT Gourmet Cheeseburger.

I know… I haven’t even started talking about the food. All I can say is DELICIOUS. I haven’t yet found a match to a MELT Cheeseburger. A big part of why MELT Cheeseburgers are so delicious is that they bake their buns in house, so they are always fresh!

MELT Gourmet Cheeseburger

MELT Gourmet Cheeseburgers

You really do have to experience it for yourself, so I highly recommend that you make a trip out to Leesburg, Virginia to enjoy a MELT Gourmet Cheeseburger the next time you find yourself in the Northern Virginia area.

If you do find yourself in the Northern Virginia area, here is some more pet friendly fun

For more photos of MELT Gourmet Cheeseburgers, visit Flickr.

Jessica Shipman
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