UPDATED The president's schedule today showed he was to have lunch at 12:30PM with Vice President Biden in the Oval Office. There's pretty much nothing they couldn't order from the staff of White House chefs. Instead, they went out.
They fired up the motorcade and headed across the Potomac to a place called Ray's Hell-Burger in Arlington, Va. It's a casual eatery, no waiter service; you stand on line, order your burger and toppings, get handed a number, and wait for it to be cooked, plated and handed over.
What the ambience lacks appears to be more than made up for by the beef. People who have eaten there say the burgers are among the best they've ever tasted.
"Killer burgers," says CBS News producer Mary Hager.
Like any other customer, the president waited in line with Biden right behind him. They spent the time examining the chalkboards listing the various cheeses and other toppings available for their burgers.
When he made it to the counter, Mr. Obama let loose with a presidential directive.
"I'm gonna have just your basic cheddar cheese burger, medium well," he said. "I just want mustard. No ketchup. Lettuce and tomato."
"Are your fries pretty good?" he asked. "Can you vouch for your fries?"
"No french fries," counterman Tim Murray informed the president. "We've got cheesy tater puffs."
"Is that right?" said the president, sounding a bit surprised by the absence of fries.
"We'll have one order of that," he said of the tater puffs. "We'll check that out." He offered to share the flash-fried pureed potatoes and cheddar cheese with Biden.
The president placed burger orders for a number of his aides, and even offered to buy lunch for the members of the press pool accompanying him. He had only a few takers.
"You guys are cheap dates," he told the media. "I can't believe I couldn't get more people to order a burger."
Some in the press were worried about the appearance of the leader they cover buying them lunch.
The counterman offered to make the order on the house, but the president wouldn't hear of it.
"No, no, no. We gotta pay for it," he said. Referring to reporters, he added: "See all these people, they'll write about how we were free-loading."
The president and vice president dug into their pockets and pulled out the cash to pay the tab. Obama tucked a $5 bill in the tip jar.
He was handed a ticket for his order - #42 - even though he's President #44.
I don't recall President Bush and Vice President Cheney ever going out for burgers – or any other of their predecessors for that matter.
If nothing else, today's lunch outing gave the local economy a boost – and no doubt will bring Ray's Hell-Burger a lot more business.
Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.