The Best New Burgers in D.C. Are at a Thai Joint in Park View
Correction: Alfie’s is located just outside Petworth in Park View. Oops.
If you’ve paid any attention to the D.C. burger scene over the past few years, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard of Alex McCoy or, at the very least, one of his burgers. McCoy is the creator of the beloved Proper Burger at Duke’s Grocery and while the chef is no longer at the Dupont joint he co-founded (he sold his stake in the restaurant at the end of 2014), his burger remains and continues to delight greasy faces to this day.
As McCoy has moved on to new projects, much like a wet mogwai, his beef-and-bun creations are slowly multiplying throughout the District. Last November, he opened the diner-inspired Crisp Kitchen + Bar in
Petworth Bloomingdale and though fried chicken might be the headliner, he dropped two new, soon-to-be beefy classics on the menu there, too.
But not content with having just three legendary burgers in D.C., when McCoy debuted Alfie’s, his expat Thai concept, two months ago, he once again brought the good stuff.
“It fits with the concept,” McCoy tells us of his new Aussie burger. “There’s a lot of Australians in Thailand,” he says. “Many of them run dive shops during the day. Then at night, after they close up, they’d open up these little burger shacks.”
McCoy’s Aussie burger is a tribute to those shacks with a six-ounce beef patty piled high with grilled pineapple, pickled beets, grilled red onion, smoked English cheddar, arugula, nam jim mayo and a sunny side up egg. It’s a sticky, sloppy and totally beautiful cacophony of ingredients that makes for one of the messiest and tastiest burgers I’ve eaten.
Unlike a massive meat mound with no rhyme or reason to its makeup, this burger’s collection of components is well thought out. The subtle sweetness of the beets comes together with the chili sauce and caramelized pineapple, making for the perfect yin to the salty yang of the runny egg-topped patty of short rib, brisket and chuck. And then, slicing through it all like Indiana Jones through a rope bridge, there’s the cheese, a smoked Ilchester cheddar from the UK.
Damn, this burger is good.
A little PSA: don’t be put off by the Aussie aftermath. It may look like someone just murdered a unicorn but the way the rainbow leftovers blend harmoniously with the bar’s multi-colored decor, in a way, brings everything full circle. It’s quite beautiful, actually. Sitting there fully sated and perfectly contented, replaying bites I had taken just moments ago in my head, I was at one with my stomach as well as my surroundings. It was sublime.
And while the Aussie burger alone makes Alfie’s the latest and greatest D.C. burger destination, McCoy says it isn’t even his favorite – he prefers the other burger on the menu.
Oh yes, there’s not one, but two burgers here.
“I like the classic,” says McCoy, referring to the OG burger, a much more traditional stack of beef. With cheddar, pickles, red onion, arugula and a slathering of creamy sweet chili sauce mayo, Alfie’s other burger is far simpler yet still thoughtful and precise. So much so, that I agree with McCoy’s assessment: the OG is king and I want to kneel before the throne. The Aussie burger is a delicious, delicious spectacle but the OG’s simplicity is its crowning achievement. In fact, it’s very reminiscent of the original Duke’s burger and that’s no coincidence – McCoy says the Proper Burger was based on a Thai-style burger. Talk about some beefy pedigree.
With such a strong lineup in his portfolio, I asked McCoy the secret to his burger creation process. From Duke’s to Crisp to Alfie’s,”They all have the same roots,” he says. All of them start with the same foundation: Creekstone Farms beef, ground daily, and buns from Lyon Bakery.
But unlike the others, the Aussie and OG have a little something extra. Because he uses so much short rib at Alfie’s, McCoy has a lot of excess short rib fat lying around. Rather than let it go to waste, he renders it down and then uses that to cook his burgers. That’s right, the burgers are cooked in the tallow made from the short rib fat. The result is a savory richness that infiltrates every bite of each burger. Bottom line, it’s some next-level shit.
I can’t call it the best part about Alfie’s burgers, because that – of course – is shoving them into your face. However, one of the greatest properties of the OG and Aussie are the price tags. At 11 and 13 bucks, respectively, they are two of the cheapest, top-notch burgers available in D.C. today. In fact, the most expensive thing on the menu at Alfie’s is just $16 and McCoy is proud of that. “We break down all the animals ourselves…all the chicken, the beef. It’s cheaper that way and we want to pass the savings along to our customers.,” he says. “It’s really important the dishes are affordable.”
With regularly-packed tables at dinner time, getting your burger on at Alfie’s during the week may be a bit of a challenge. However, during its new Sunday brunch that just started this month, it’s far less busy. Both burgers are on the brunch menu and there’s bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys, too. So, it’s pretty much a no brainer: go at brunch.
Alfie’s | 3301 Georgia Avenue NW | DC | alfiesdc.com