Answers from Our Experts (2)
How many ways do I love the cheeseburger at Palena? First, I love the housemade brioche bun, seedless, puffy and standing tall but squishing down to a thin airy disc that fits perfectly into a bite for a human, not for a creature with an expandable jaw. Second, I love the truffle cheese, not overwhelming but just enough hint of earthiness to add a musky layer to my burger experience. Third, a thin, almost translucent smear of housemade mayonnaise raises the meat's richness to a new level. And the meat — a hand-ground blend of cuts shaped into a modest patty (this is no gut-busting burger) cooked to temperature (but please don't get it above medium!). Served with just a few housemade pickles (carrot, cauliflower, cucumber), this $13 piece of heaven has made every DC top burger list for years but I think it deserves its own category. I had one recently, split with three others as an appetizer before my roast chicken entree. Fries are $8 extra but worth it, served with a kind of sriracha mayonnaise.
From fast food to fine dining, the hamburger is everywhere these days. Washingtonians certainly have their choice when it comes to the barbeque classic. Nearly every restaurant in the city has some sort of “burger” on the menu, but not all are created equal. Here are a few of our favorites:
Ray’s Hell Burger
Cross the river to Arlington and you’ll find a burger joint that President Obama has returned to time and again. Here, you’ll enjoy giant burgers served with tater tots — no fries, and make-to-order milkshakes from the same team that brought you Rays the Steaks.
Tucked away in a Cleveland Park strip mall, the café at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Palena restaurant doesn’t look like much. But their burger, juicy and full of flavor and served on a buttery brioche bun, is a true menu standout.
The bar at BOURBON Steak by Michael Mina in the Four Seasons is where the city’s elite go to drink — and often, to dine. The juicy burgers here are some of the city’s best. We personally prefer the standard Prime Steak variety, but you can also sample a turkey, salmon, lamb or veggie variety. For a true splurge, pair with duck fat fries or truffled popcorn.
Good Stuff Eatery
Owned by former Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn, Capitol Hill’s Good Stuff stays true to its name, dishing out good, nearly great burgers, fries, shakes and sodas. The most similar to fast food on the list, order at the counter and wait in line for your purchase (and yes, you will wait) for a greasy yet glorious patty dripping with your choice of cheese and toppings.