REJOICE! BURGER SEASON IS HERE!!! Spring is in the air my friends, and that can only mean one thing, it’s time to break out your grill and eat some juicy burgers. Whether you’re cooking at home (like the all American champ you are), or you plan to order nothing but burgers from every restaurant in town until summer is over (a noble quest indeed), we have just the guide for you. It’s chock full of our personal burger picks and some very helpful grilling advice (and food porn, of course, lots and lots of food porn). Y’know spring really is in the air. It was 70 degrees yesterday, people are starting to drink outdoors again, and Opening Day has come and gone. If anything, we’re a little bit behind. You should probably start eating as many burgers as possible. That sounds like the best plan.
- 303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
- 3291 M St NW
- 2110 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA 22202
Good Stuff Eatery has opted to open storefronts in Capitol Hill, Georgetown, and Saudi Arabia, which are all places that I am equally unlikely to visit on a weekday. Spike Mendelsohn is doing me a favor, I suppose, because my willpower is as low as my laziness is high, and Good Stuff makes the only burgers that I crave. They’re grease bombs made with high end, unusual ingredients, and that is exactly what I want out of my burger dining experience. (I am not going to pickle my own daikon at home.) These burgers don’t bust your belly, either: A double-patty Prez Obama is just enough to gently send you down Food Coma Creek like a swaddled baby Moses. And lest we forget the unlimited, self-serve mayos. Have you ever been to a brgr joint that chargers you for a thimble of extra dipping sauce? Good Stuff is having none of that. Go H.A.M. on the creamy Old Bay, mango, chipotle, and sriracha bliss. Lord knows that I do, usually with both the seasoned Village Fries and fried onion “petals.” When I make the pilgrimage, I don’t mess around. If a Good Stuff ever opens close to my office, I am screwed. – Phil Runco
- 2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
I am… in love with Burger, Tap & Shake… Like really really in love. I shhave no idea how it became my absolute favorite burger place in D.C., but it did. I love everything about it. I love the giant painting of George Washington. I love their shakes (boozy and regular). I love their beer selection (Although, I wish they still had Old Rasputin on tap. There is nothing better than getting a burger, fries, an Old Rasputin, and then finishing off with a shake because you hate yourself). Most importantly, I love their burgers. Especially the Six Buck Chuck. The bread is so light and fluffy. The meat is so so juicy and full of flavor (get it medium rare!!!!) it really doesn’t need any other toppings, but since I am not an animal, I get all the regular suspects. Cheese, Lettuce, onion, tomato, and PICKLES. That’s right. You heard me. The best burgers have pickles. Even if you hate pickles, get pickles. I will fight people over this. The only thing that’s “ehhh” at BTS are the fries. Sometimes they’re great, sometimes they’re whatever. Pro tip, take some of the sriracha they have so kindly put out with the other condiments, mix it with some ketchup and dip your fries in that. Delicious. I would normally end this with something like, “Go there now!!!” but I won’t. Please don’t go there, it’s already hard enough to get space at the bar. -Kaylee Dugan
- 1513 17th St NW
I will say it now: the Proper burger at Duke’s Grocery IS the best burger in DC. First off, the beef quality is outstanding. Duke’s uses Creekstone Farms, the beef purveyor to Michelin star chefs and uses a lot of it (there’s two patties here, and you better learn to deal with it). On top of those two patties you get: a perfectly melted perfectly smoky gouda, house pickles, the juiciest charred onions known to mankind, some arugula to cut the onion sweetness, chilli sauce, some sort of magical aioli and it is sadnwiched in a perfect bun: the kind that is soft but doesn’t get too soggy when faced with all that action in between. It is a total paper towel-at-your-side kind of burger but it is also somehow completely manageable and not overwhelming. And, if you wanna go nuts: yes, you can add an egg or avocado or chicken liver pate on top, and yes, that will be amazing too, but while the Proper Burger welcomes those additions, it DOESN’T NEED THEM. It is perfect, just the way it is. The only flaw in the system: I live across the street and they DON’T DO CARRY OUT. Come on, you guys. COME ON.- Svetlana
- 319 Pennsylvania Ave SE
“This is by far the best burger I’ve had in D.C.” That’s a real quote, from a real D.C. burger connoisseur. Let me paint a word-picture of Stanton & Greene’s “The Greene Burger” for you. First of all, it’s “Greene” as in the name of the restaurant, not “Green” as in lettuce-laden health burger let’s-all-have-a-granola-bar-after-spin-class. This burger is a wonderful, beautiful, monstrous work of meat art. Did you know that you can infuse meat with other meat? Two 6 oz bacon-infused patties of the melt-in-your-mouthiest, most delicious beef I’ve ever tasted. Those patties alone would make a fantastic burger, but there’s more. There’s so much more. Bacon does not just infuse the beef, it also sits in all its thick, crispy glory atop the beef, just below three golden onion rings. And now let me tell you, aioli is a beautiful thing, but bacon aioli? That’s something to make a pilgrimage for, my friends. All that placed lovingly and delicately between a pretzel roll (which holds up very well to the task of containing half a foot’s worth of meat and onion rings), and you’ve got a burger that’ll make a grown man cry. Read our full story by Melissa Groth here.
- 734 7th St NW
- National Airport Arlington VA
One summer, I peer pressured an intern into eating every kind of burger offered by Fuddruckers with me. The task was simple enough: On Fridays, we would go to “Fudds” – as the kids call it – and order a different kind of meat, each presented on a buttered loaf of bread masquerading as a bun. It was not a challenge for the weak of heart, because if an animal can be killed and turned into a patty, Fudds has done it. Cow? Sure, it has those in discs sized up to a pound. Turkey? Yes, of course, a delicious bird, as is another Fudds sacrifice, the emu. What about four-legged creatures that could kill me? Fuck yes; get the drop on some boar, elk, or buffalo. Aren’t land animals over? Enjoy the salmon circle. Aren’t all animals over? There is actually a veggie burger. Are these burgers any good? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the hum of the electronic cheese sauce dispenser. Are they good? Look, I already told you that Fudds serves a pound of cow on a bun. You can cut the thing into quarters and enjoy four regular-sized burgers. What else do you want out of life? – Phil Runco
- 1216 18th St NW
- 800 F St NW
- 1500 S Capitol St SE
Danny Meyer is a bomb-ass restaurateur. The dude just knows how to pump out great product, whether in a dining room with white tablecloths or out of a cart with burgers served to you in wax paper. And man, is that classic ShackBurger something else. It sounds so simple: a Black Angus beef patty topped with American cheese, tomato, lettuce, and “Shack Sauce,” served in a grilled potato bun. But the sum is so, so much greater than its parts. I moved to DC from California, and never in a million years thought that you could best an In-N-Out double double, animal style. I was wrong. This is burger perfection for $5. – Logan Hollers
Oh Shake Shack. What can I say about you that hasn’t already been said a million times before? It’s good, it’s expensive. Whatever whatever. It’s got crinkle cut fries if you’re into that. It also has shakes and booze, but what really sets Shake Shack apart from all the rest, in my opinion, is the Shroom Burger. Now, I would not consider myself a voracious carnivore, but when I’m going to get a burger, I like it to be meaty. Shake Shack’s regular burgers are just whatever to me, but their Shroom Burger is fantastic. Really fantastic. The secret is that they use so much cheese that you forget there is no meat (I also like mushrooms, so you know… consider that). Plus the mushroom is fried. It is probably the least healthy veggie burger you could ever get. It’s wonderful. Plus, their fries are pretty okay too. – Kaylee Dugan
- 331 Pennsylvania Ave SE
I used to love the Tune Inn. In fact, when I worked on the Hill I moved to an apartment directly across the street from the Tune Inn for the sole reason of proximity to the world’s greatest sandwich – the Tune Inn Patty Melt. Maybe my love for The Tune Inn has faded a bit with time. Some of that is due to proximity, and some of that is due to the fact that after the fire (The Tune Inn temporarily closed due to a kitchen fire in 2011) they seem to have rebranded themselves as a sort of Guy Fieri-meets-Ed Hardy mashup that qualifies as my own personal version of hell. But that fucking Patty Melt is still the best burger in DC. First of all, this thing is greasy. But you should know that because it’s the Tune Inn. I’ve tried to make this at home using a fairly simple formula: Rye Bread + Butter + Half Pound Burger Patty + Sautéed Onions + Swiss Cheese + Russian Dressing. Into a skillet + more butter. Sounds simple – but no one does it like the Tune Inn. It’s got the juiciness of a perfectly cooked burger, the exterior crunch and interior melted cheese goodness of a grilled cheese (Super Melty Cheesy, as Guy Fieri would call it), and the zest and flavors reminiscent of a NYC style deli rueben. It’s like three awesome sandwiches that somehow come together perfectly into one at the Tune Inn. Paired with a cheap PBR and a forgiving stomach, this is the best burger in DC, hands down. – Brandon Minow
- 3301 14th St. NW
- 4321 Wisconsin Avenue NW
- 2414 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest
- 1101 4th St SW Unit 170
One time, I went to Z-Burger and got an onion ring I could fit my entire fist through (I have small carnie hands, but still). That pretty much sums up my relationship with Z-Burger. It is delicious when you are drunk, high, or when you don’t feel like being fancy. I love fancy burgers with duck fat fries and foie gras and all that nonsense, but sometimes you just need a basic fast food burger. Sometimes you need a mountain of fries and onion rings so greasy that it turns you into nothing but grease. Sometimes you need more than one milkshake (they have a million milkshake options, get double chocolate). Sometimes you need to become one with fast food, but you have higher standards than McDonalds, Burger King, etc. I get it. I feel you. It makes perfect sense to me. – Kaylee Dugan
- 1300 Second St. NE
- 1335 Wisconsin Ave NW
- 1400 Irving Street NW
- 1825 I St. NW
- 407 L’Enfant Plaza East SW
- 1400 I Street
- 1100 New Jersey Ave. SE
- 13th NW & F Streets NW
- 808 H St. NW
A lot of people feel like there is some sort of Five Guys vs. Shake Shack vs. In N Out fight, but really, who cares. Shake Shack is good at some things, Five Guys is good at some things, and I’m sure In N Out is good at something, but I wouldn’t know because I live on the Beast Coast. Five Guys has a good burger. It’s better than a regular fast food burger, but it’s not as good as a fancy burger. I like that you can get pickles and a million other toppings but I like to keep it simple with LTO(always raw onion none of that grilled nonsense)P and maybe some mushrooms. Their fries are awesome. Make sure to douse them in vinegar and then eat them as fast as possible. Five Guys is the best when you are surrounded by friends so you can make fun of whoever adds too many things to their burger, thus making it almost impossible to eat. Plus, you are going to need someone to share all those fries with. Unless you are me. I could eat all of the fries. Bring me some fries. – Kaylee Dugan
- 1213 U Street NW
- National Airport VA
- 3634 Georgia Ave NW
Sometimes the best burger is the one you can get your ravenous hands on. For more and more people priced out of more southern NW neighborhoods, Looking Glass Lounge is providing the fix – especially on half-price on Wednesdays. If you live in Petworth, you’ll probably concede that the bar food game is strong at LG, and it crosses over to the juicy, half pound patties served medium rare and creating a crime scene on top of your fries. And if you don’t like it, forget it immediately with the ever present $6 Jim Beam and Natty Boh Comnbo. – Josh Phelps
- 641 Indiana Ave NW
I love naan. I love burgers. This works well. (See my thoughts on it here.) – Logan Hollers
- 425 12th St NW
Ollies Trolley is the saddest and most wonderful place. It is the only place where my bougie friend Harsh will eat alone. It’s Ollies Trolley. No one is judging you at Ollies Trolley. You cannot touch ANY of the memorabilia at Ollies Trolley. Just sit at your booth and gorge yourself on burgers. They’re not that great, but who cares. Sometimes you just want to fill yourself with comforting food in a homey, yet terrifying, environment. That’s where Ollies Trolley comes in. They have soft serve, so get some soft serve while you’re at it. Make it a day out of it. Go see a movie at E Street Cinema. Go to the bar at Harry’s and get drunk with strange tourists. Make the most out of life. – Kaylee Dugan
- 1601 14th St NW
This is the classic by which I measure all other DC burgers. Thin patties of beef (easier to char up on a flat-top) from noted purveyor Pat LaFrieda stay so, so juicy, even with the great crust; classic American cheese melts perfectly over the top. The best part? A house-baked brioche bun that stays soft enough to bite through and yet maintains the structural durability necessary to contain all the goodness within. – Logan Hollers
- 8201 Snowden River Parkway
Columbia, MD 21045
This is not in DC, this is in Maryland. Not Bethesda, Rockville, suburb of DC Maryland, but Maryland Maryland. I don’t know if I could, in good conscious, recommend you drive all the way up to Columbia just to get a burger, but if you’re in the area, you should definitely stop by. Not only does Victoria’s have and excellent burger, but it also has amazing duck fat fries, and an incredible beer list. The first time I came here I had the “Mushroom & Swiss” Snake River Farms Wagyu Burger (I really do love mushrooms), The Bruery’s Tart of Darkness, and a bucket of the duck fat fries. It was amazing. If you like mushrooms, sour beers (like REALLY sour), and duck fat, I 100% recommend you recreate the experience. The duck fat fries feel like they are taking years off my life but I cannot bear to order anything else while I’m here. Follow my lead. – Kaylee Dugan
- 1309 5th St NE
- 8298 Glass Alley, Fairfax VA
- 709 D St NW
I’ve kept one New Year’s resolution in my entire life: not to ever again eat at McDonald’s. I still remember my last Big Mac – December 30th, 2004; we were hammered, coming home from Carey’s, and walked through the McDonald’s drive-through. It was awesome. When I’m looking to recreate that taste profile, I head to Red Apron’s shop in Union Market. It’s the only burger on the menu of a butcher shop for good reason. As you might imagine, it uses some the best beef (a blend of brisket, short rib, round, and sirloin) of any burger in DC, and Red Apron’s own “Island Sauce” gives it the feel of an upscale Big Mac. Just without, you know, all the disgusting hormones and mass-scale factory farmed beef and evil multinational conglomerate horseshit. So…win-win. – Logan Hollers
- 601 Pennsylvania Ave NW
I have bougie proclivities. I love truffle fries. The Capital Grille fulfills both of those needs beautifully. Their burger is huuuuuuuge and delicious and comes with the most incredible parmesan truffle fries. I cannot get enough of them. It also comes with smoked bacon. You will not regret getting this burger. Pro tip, sit at the bar, or in the lounge area. The service is impeccable. Pro tip #2 Order the clam chowder (it’s even better than Outback Steakhouse’s clam chowder and I am I go hard for Outback’s clam chowder) Pro tip #3 bring a date (or your mom, I always bring my mom). You will have a great time. – Kaylee Dugan
- 300 Tingey St SE
Want to know something interesting? 90% of people in the U.S. don’t eat any lamb at all. That’s fucked up. Lamb is delicious and you need to eat more of it. (Unless you don’t because of animal welfare concerns or veganism…I’m cool with that.) Sometimes you need a hunk of ground meat that isn’t all cow, you know? Chef Kyle Bailey at Bluejacket mixes lamb into his Bifteki burger, giving it a distinct Middle Eastern flair – it’s got a subtle grassy funk, and is the tiniest bit gamey; pickled cucumber, feta, and a dill mayonnaise slathered on the bottom bun round play nicely with the meat patty. This is a great change of pace burger when you’re tired of just beef. – Logan Hollers
- 421 H St NE
The Great Chicago Fire. This is my standby – close, great people, solid burger. It’s not grass-fed; it’s not organic; it’s not super fancy. It’s a damn good burger made with local beef dusted with chipotle powder and topped with habanero jack cheese and a dollop of sweet and spicy mango-habanero salsa. I’m not usually a fan of jack cheeses on burgers (American just melts too perfectly not to use), but it works here – the chipotle gives the loosely-packed beef a nice smokiness throughout, and the heat of the habanero keeps you going back in for one more bite, just to alleviate the burn. Then you look down and it’s gone. – Logan Hollers
- 801 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Some Fridays, I head to Plan B and post up at the bar for lunch. And by “some Fridays,” I mean every Friday. With a diverse menu, a regularly rotating tap that includes DC Brau rarities, and friendly staff, it leaves me ready to power through the rest of my day and start the weekend. They have over twenty different options of burgers – including veggie, chicken, pork, and tuna – and I can honestly say that I’ve never had a bad one. My standby is the Blue Cheese, but sometimes the weekly special takes the prize. (The duck sausage sliders should be a permanent menu item.) I’ve invited a certain BYT writer, who shall remain nameless, to join my repast, but he consistently finds a reason to decline. It might be for the best: That makes one less person to battle for a seat. – Eamon Redmond
Fellow vegetarians, there are burgers for you too in this guide and damn good ones if I do say so.
- 7015 Wisconsin Ave
- 1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW
- 1800 Tysons Blvd McLean, VA
- 12505 Park Potomac Ave Potomac, MD
- 2021 14th St NW
- 1025 5th St NW
- 625 Monroe St NE
- 3291 M St NW
- 303 Pennsylvania Ave
- 2110 Crystal Dr Arlington, VA
- 1150 Connecticut Ave NW
- 701 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Beers and burgers, they go together like lamb and tuna fish (or spaghetti and meatballs, perhaps you’re more comfortable with that analogy?).
For a basic burger, one served off the grill at a backyard BBQ, I love Victory Prima Pils. It’s a lighter colored beer but packs a ton of crisp malt flavor and earthy hops. Its highly carbonated body helps strip the burgers oils off your tongue, and allows the hops and the bready malts to shine through. Plus it’s a delicious and refreshing beer on a hot summer day.
A long time ago we had an awesome column about some of our favorite burgers in the district. Let’s take a walk down burger memory lane, shall we?
- BOURBON STEAK
- BURGER TAP & SHAKE
- GOOD STUFF EATERY & GOOD STUFF EATERY VA
- MAD FOX BREWING COMPANY
- BLACK AND ORANGE
- SHAKE SHACK
- RAY’S HELL BURGER
- JACKSON 20
Daily Happy Hour Specials
- Policy ($3-6 sliders Tues-Thurs 5-8 PM, Friday 5-7 PM)
- Commissary ($5.25 3-7 PM)
- Brixton ($10 hamburgers/ $7 sliders Monday-Friday 5-7PM)
- Clyde’s ($6 Monday-Friday 3-7 PM) – Yes, it’s a chain. But it’s a local chain and it’s reliable. Reliability is really the most attractive aspect of any good chain restaurant. A burger should also be reliable. Not every burger has to be a life-changing meaty revelation—that’s simply not a realistic expectation—what it needs to be is dependable, and that’s exactly what you get with a Clyde’s burger. It has solid burger integrity. –Zeke Leeds
- Helix (Everyday half-priced burgers)
- Chadwick’s (half-priced)
- Chef Geoff’s/Lia ($5.95 burger) – Chef Geoff is normally on the pricy side, which is probably to be expected from somewhere that spells its name with a superfluous “O.” But the price point is only one reason the Monday-Tuesday burger deal here is such a steal (typically one of these bad boys will run you upwards of $14). Another reason why this deal is the bomb-diggity is the burger itself. Which is so legit, its juicier than Drake’s new album. –Zeke Leeds
- Mr. Henry’s Capitol Hill Restaurant (half-priced on all fourteen burgers)
- Whitlow’s on Wilson (half-priced)
- Dino in Shaw ($10 The Dino Burger w/Bacon)
Nathan Anda, of Red Apron Butchery
- Use a good quality blend. Our Red Apron house-ground 80/20 blend made with brisket, short rib, sirloin and round.
- When forming your patties, pack lightly. (no smashing, squishing or any other words like these)
- Season the patty with salt & pepper liberally (basically, more than you would think)
- Cook on medium heat. When using a coarsely ground blend like ours, you don’t want to scorch the meat or you’ll get an unpleasant burnt taste.
- No pushing the patty down on the grill – you’re just killing it at this point.
- Slice that cheese thin so that it melts evenly through.
- Don’t underestimate the power of a really good bun —I prefer Tiffany MacIsaac’s brioche buns.
- Keep it simple
- Garlic, olive oil & red wine vinegar
Annie Stom, owner of Annie’s Ace Hardware
Gas or charcoal?
If you think about how food is, it’s aroma then taste. With charcoal, you haven’t even put anything on the grill and you’re already hungry. We’re a charcoal family. Plus, with charcoal, you get the nice marks.
What’s your preferred brand?
Weber. Weber has several lines, including the Performer. What’s cool about that is it has a propane light, so you never have to use lighter fluid. It also has something called a chimney. You use Weber cubes, they turn white, and the charcoal heats up. No lighter fluid required. Not that there is anything wrong with lighter fluid, it’s just one more chemical in a world full of them.
Do you have any tips for making the perfect burger?
You’d have to ask my wife… I’m not the cook, but you have to have cheddar cheese.
George Lesznare, owner and butcher at Harvey’s Market
Gas or charcoal?
I prefer charcoal, but I use gas, if that makes sense.
I like the flavor of charcoal, but I prefer the consistency of gas. I can predetermine exactly how each burger is going to come out. With charcoal, it’s hard to determine the exact temperature. You know it’s about 25 degrees a briquette, but it can still be hard to determine. I have a gas grill at home, my wife prefers gas.
What’s your preferred brand?
Weber. It has an even temperature. When you’re cooking a roast and you have 30 inches on each side, it’s going to cook even. There aren’t any hot spots or cold spots. I’ve had my grill for 20 years and it still works. I bought it in 1995.
Do you have any tips for making the perfect burger?
Make sure the meat is room temperature before you put it on the grill. It cooks better that way.
What a lot of people don’t know about Daddy’s Little Party Boi® is that one of my favorite ways to party is my once a year Daddy’s Little Party BBQ®. And when I’m behind the grill I’m like Ted Nugent “If you came to [my BBQ] to get mellow you can turn around and get the fuck out of [my BBQ]!” – I have an apron that says that. (It doesn’t all fit on the front so its continued on the back but still it gets the message across). I try to find my burger muse in unexpected places: The Okie (half dust half beef), The New Wave (equal parts beef, skinny ties, and Reaganomics), and The Taft (100% porkchop fat on a bun). But in true Party Boi® fashion i’ve got some rock star inspired burger recipes to spice up your summer.
100% angus beef
Half a bottle of Jack Daniels
One tiny top-hat per patty
Blues Scale [to taste]
Les Paul Shavings to garnish (preferably fire-burst)
Just like the solo in November Rain, you’re going to want to let these burgers linger and simmer for what seems like forever. Also make sure you alert any of your guests who may have a tiny-top hat allergy
The Wicked Lester
KISS® Beef Tongue
KISS® “Sex Seasoning”
KISS® “Strutter Sauce”
KISS® “Detroit Rock Salsa”
You wanted the best, you got the best (depending on your tastes of course.) This burger inspired by The Demon himself is best when prepared with fingers uncleaned after a bathroom rendez-vous. While the texture of the beef tongue is tough to get used to and all of the seasonings kind of taste the same, you should still be so horned up that it tastes down right sensual
The Barking Pumpkin
4 cans of SPAM
7 mustard seeds
pickled cinnamon sticks
blonde hair [DO NOT SUBSTITUTE BRUNETTE]
lenny bruce’s court hearing transcripts, diced
If i have to explain this to you…IT WASN’T MEANT FOR YOU TO GET.
Aside from being delicious, hamburgers have served as a creative backdrop for musical acts from rap legends and also-rans to punk, to soul and country icons, too. Yes, the obvious choices are here, as Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger In Paradise” is represented. As well, there’s The Queers’ “Bloodbath at Burger King.” But have you ever heard Yung Poppy and Kiesha Red’s trap anthem “If You Want a Burger?” Of course you haven’t. Well, I’ll personally advise you to head to your local grocer, get all of the materials yourself, turn this playlist up to 11 and make your own ultimate burger meal. Enjoy! – Marcus K. Dowling