5 D.C.-Area Burgers That Deserve More Love
(This post was originally written for the folks at Eater DC for their Burger Week, but due to some extenuating circumstances, they couldn’t run it this week. We really, really, really like these burgers and we couldn’t let it go to waste, so boom!, we give you the goods personally.)
During our run through the D.C.-area for the best burgers, we’ve come across many, quality creations that rival, and in some cases surpass, the ones served up by the area’s heavy hitters.
We hate to get in the whole “best burger” debate, because we feel it’s unfair to compare the myriad of burger-styles against each other. Simply put, you can’t compare the double patty offering at Five Guys to the truffled cheeseburger from Palena— they’re two different (but both delicious) beasts.
Rather, we’re going to highlight some of the area’s unheralded offerings– the burgers that don’t get the press and are oftentimes overlooked in the whole D.C.-burger-scene conversation. This list is by no means exhaustive and does not mean that other, lesser-known burgers aren’t worthy. These are just a few of the really, really good ones we’ve encountered that we feel deserve some recognition.
Joeâ€™s Amazing Burgers | 6710 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, VA | joesburgersmclean.com
We still can’t figure out why Joe’s doesn’t get more D.C.-burger love. It’s not like they’re newcomers to the scene, having first opened in a small McLean strip mall in the summer of 2007. In their tiny corner space, it was the norm to see them filled to capacity, serving up eager patrons their gourmet take on the beef sandwich. Two years ago, they moved a couple of places down to a larger space but they are still putting out the same ridiculously good burgers. You can go simple here, but what you really want are their specialty creations. Their most popular is the Butcher’s Choice– an all-natural Angus beef patty with aged double cheddar, horseradish mustard (it’s serious stuff), caramelized onions, smoked mayo, lettuce and tomato– it’s damn good. Feeling spendy? For 26 bucks, you can get the Millionaire’s Foie Gras Burger with seared Hudson Valley foie gras, black truffle oil, fontina cheese, baby spinach, house-pickled onions and truffle oil aioli. If you want to switch up from the beef, check out their chorizo, bison or lamb burgers, they’re all great– and local too. The lamb, bison and pork come from the Organic Butcher of McLean, right next-door.
Popular Burgers: Butcher’s Choice, Port Wine Blue Cheese, Chorizo Burger
Stoney’s Lounge | 1433 P St. NW, Washington, DC | stoneysdc.com
We’re burger folk, and while Stoney’s is known throughout D.C. for their excellent grilled-cheese, we love them because of their beef and buns. The Logan Circle joint is a dive-ish sort of bar, but don’t let that dissuade you from tasting the goods: the One Eye is one of the best burgers we’ve eaten in D.C. It’s not fancy– not in the least; you won’t find any “gourmet” topping or aiolis on this one. It’s served up with the most perfect fried egg sitting atop a juicy, Swiss cheese-covered beef patty hugged by a beautiful, shiny, slightly sweet brioche bun. And while it doesn’t come with bacon, believe us when we say, adding it is a must. It’ll cost you $3, but it’s worth every bacon-y penny. Another winning Stoney’s combo is their Texas Burger with bacon, cheddar, BBQ sauce, grilled onions and coleslaw.
Popular Burgers: One Eye, Texas Burger, Chili Cheeseburger
The Palm | 1750 Tysons Blvd, McLean, VA | 1225 19th Street NW, Washington, DC | thepalm.com
Now The Palm gets plenty of love and recognition, not only around D.C. but around the country as well. But that’s for their steaks and other entrees– we almost never hear people talking about their burgers. For a while they had only one boring and uninspired sirloin number. It was mediocre at best. A few years ago, however, they revamped their menu and introduced a new lineup of six “Prime SteakBurgers.” There’s a few solid choices here, but the one we like the best is their signature 837 Club Burger. It’s a mammoth 12 oz. prime beef burger with prosciutto di parma, roasted red peppers, fontina cheese and a pesto aioli, all served on a toasted sesame brioche bun. The pesto is the standout on this one and really brings all the other ingredients together.
Popular Burgers: 837 Club Burger, Texas Burger
Jackson 20 | 480 King Street, Alexandria, VA | jackson20.com
Another spot that’s known for their other grub before their burger is Jackson 20 in Old Town Alexandria. It’s got that fancy-vibe to the place, but they also have a killer selection of canned beer including Schlitz, PBR and Stroh’s, so it’s not too hoity-toity. But the important part is that they know how to hook up a burger. You won’t find a lineup of them on the menu, there’s just one: the J20. But that’s all you need. A hefty, 75/25 lean-to-fat ground chuck patty is served under a beautiful blanket of melted mountaineer cheese, with smokehouse bacon, grilled green onions, barbecue aioli and apple cider coleslaw. It all comes on a sweet potato bun from Firehook Bakery just up the street. It may sound like a lot going on, but each component is essential and they play off each other deliciously.
Popular Burgers: J20 Burger
You’re bound to miss this joint and its outstanding burger if you’re not careful. There’s no streetfront signage save for their address –yes, 1905– on the awning over the entrance to the second floor lounge/bar/bistro mash-up on 9th St. And if you do overlook it, it’s a damn shame. Their burger, introduced in ’09 by Chef Matthew Richardson, starts off with 10 ounces of grass-fed Meyer Angus beef blended together with locally farmed shiitaki and cremini mushrooms. On top comes a healthy slab of their house-smoked brie. Both cheese and patty sit atop a lightly toasted ciabatta roll, but it doesn’t end there. Served along side is an absolutely delectable red wine shallot demi-glace. What you choose to do with it is up to you: pour it on the burger and bun, use it as a dip, straight up chug it– whatever you decide, you can’t go wrong. Bonus: Wednesday is ½-price burger night, so go then and get your 1905 on the cheap.
Popular Burgers: 1905 Burger