The 19 Best Burger Joints in DC Right Now
From neighborhood dive bars to swanky steakhouses, these spots have the best burgers in DC.
DC is a burger town. It’s more obvious than ever after a slew of new ghost kitchens and permanent spots started slinging burgers during the pandemic. Now, we’ve got burger joints that were frequented by a certain former president, brick-and-mortar shops that tap into DC’s extensive Ethiopian options, and ghost kitchens serving up burgers with fine touches from chefs that really know what they’re doing.
DC’s best burgers truly run the gamut, so whether you want a classic, greasy smash burger or something a little fancier, we’ve rounded up a list of all our favorite options in the city and there’s something for everyone.
The Lounge at Bourbon Steak
Bourbon Steak’s lounge has quite the reputation—largely for the swanky atmosphere and decadent trio of Duck Fat Fries, but the burger is also truly delicious. The Prime Steak comes with cheddar and “secret sauce” and the fries are additional. This may not be a burger to add to the weekly rotation, but it’s the special-occasion burger you didn’t know you needed.
At this all-day spot from chef David Deshaies, expect nostalgic comfort foods with a modern twist. In addition to Sriracha-glazed meatloaf and fried chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes, the Double Cheeseburger is also a main attraction. With two grassfed beef patties, cheese, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and pickles, this classic burger is a favorite for a reason.
This neighborhood dive bar boasts not one, not two, but nine different burgers built with Creekstone Farms beef. The “straight up and to the point” classic comes with lettuce, tomato, and onion, while more adventurous options are available as well, like the Otto’s Shrunken Head, which comes with Korean barbecue, pork rinds, and pineapple relish, and the Morning Glory, which has applewood-smoked bacon, a sunny side-up egg, jalapeño cream cheese, and maple syrup aioli.
This hotel cafe boasts charming interiors, a pretty streatery, and, perhaps surprisingly, a killer burger. The Riggs Burger tops a seven-ounce dry-aged beef patty with caramelized onions, dijonnaise, and Appalachian cheese, and it’s all served atop a sweet potato bun alongside fries. After a couple of cocktails at the hotel’s top-notch cocktail bar, Silver Lyan, it’s the perfect nightcap.
How to book. Via website
This collaboration between Kramerbooks and Federalist Pig (one of our favorite BBQ spots in the city) led to a major win for burger lovers right when we needed it the most, opening in April 2020 just after COVID-19 lockdowns went into place. The ghost kitchen operates out of the bookstore’s Afterwords Cafe, where pitmaster Rob Sonderman pulled together a menu of cheesesteaks, fried chicken sandwiches, and an epic smash burger topped with melty American cheese, shredded lettuce, pickles, and a special sauce.
Another delivery-only burger joint opened to serve Northern Virginia and DC in April 2021. This concept from Brendan L’Etoile, the chef behind popular bistros Chez Billy Sud and Café Colline, serves up burgers topped with Swiss cheese and mushrooms, bacon and BBQ sauce, and more. The signature Oh, Gee! is a fast-food style burger with American cheese, bibb lettuce, and herby pickles, while more out-of-the-box options like the Kickin’ Gee challenges you to try a burger smothered with American cheese, spicy kimchi, and pickled jalapeños.
At this pandemic-born ghost kitchen by the folks behind Espita Mezcaleria, the burgers range from a classic option to The Frenchie with mushrooms, caramelized onions, bleu cheese, garlic mayo and the La Hamburguesa with Queso Oaxaca and smoked tomatillo relish. Since the restaurant operates out of Espita’s kitchen, order a burger to go and sip a mezcal cocktail at the bar while you’re waiting for maximum enjoyment.
Cassoulet, and Beef Bourguignon. But it’s hard to go wrong with the burger which, in typical French fashion, is dubbed Cheeseburger: Le Classique. The double-patty burger comes topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion (with the option to add bacon or en egg), and is served with a side of fries. It’s a classic that should appear on every table during dinner and brunch services.
All three locations of this East London style pub-eatery offer the burger that catapulted this spot to local fame. The Proper Burger is a Duke’s signature and comes with Gouda, dill pickles, charred red onions, sweet chile sauce, and garlic aioli on a brioche bun. Add-on options include a runny egg, avocado, bacon, and more, but don’t stop there—pay a little extra for a fried duck egg and chicken liver pâté.
Dining and drinking al fresco at this 14th Street beer garden is a summertime staple. The Standard Burger is a classic topped with cheese, pickles, onions, tomatoes, and burger sauce, served with hand-cut fries, and there’s also an Impossible Burger option. Of course, pairing it with a tall stein of beer is practically a requirement and is a recipe for a perfect summer afternoon.
Good Stuff Eatery
President Obama loved burgers so much that Spike Mendelsohn named one for him. Now even though it's been years since we shared a zip code with the 44th president, The Prez Burger, covered in horseradish mayo and adorned with applewood bacon, onion marmalade, and Roquefort cheese, is still on the menu. Other options include the Good Stuff Melt with cheddar, muenster, caramelized onions, and mushrooms and the vegetarian-friendly ‘Shroom Burger with cheese-stuffed, fried portabella tops with all the traditional burger toppings.
Le Diplomate’s Burger Americain is a fancy take on a Big Mac, complete with two patties, American cheese, pickles, onion, and pommes frites, and smothered in a delicious burger sauce. It’s all piled on a bun made in house, and we all know how good the bread department is at Le Dip. This is easily one of the most popular burgers around town, and once you’ve had it, you’ll know why.
The specialty burgers at this popular eatery are inspired by flavors from around the globe. The popular Bogan Bun comes with gouda and bacon jam, and the El Jefe has hatch green chili relish and queso fresco. A vegetarian mushroom and lentil patty is also available in the Crunchy Bun, and most of this spot’s burgers can be made with an Impossible patty as well. With the mainstay location in Adams Morgan, and pop-ups at Union Market and in Baltimore, a mouthwatering burger from Lucky Buns is never far away.
Chef Elias Taddesse takes his Ethiopian heritage and French culinary training, and mixes the influences together for a killer set of burgers and fried chicken sandwiches at Mélange. The Classic comes on a buttery bun with a triple-blend patty made from Roseda Farms, pickled red onions, and a hefty topping of brown butter aioli. The shop also has an option called The Italian with smoked mozzarella, tomato confit, arugula, and a spicy basil aioli, plus a Butcher’s Burger with pastrami, pickles, roasted garlic-parsley aioli, and sharp white cheddar.
This bistro is a cozy little neighborhood spot with an impressive menu of French-American fare, and while there are many delicious options to choose from—the burger is a must-have. The Mintwood Burger takes a wood-grilled, dry-aged patty and tops it with applewood smoked bacon, cheddar, and pickle roulade for a comforting classic that remains one of the most satisfying options in town.
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
If you are looking for something with a kick, the Dive Burger from Pearl Dive Oyster Palace is the way to go. Sure, seafood is on full display at this beloved oyster bar, but put your sea legs on hold for a burger topped with roasted green chilies, pepper jack cheese, and cayenne aioli that packs some serious flavor.
Quarry House Tavern
This suburban dive bar offers up a menu of bar fare with all the classics represented. The burgers (and other stuff on a bun) section features a seven-ounce angus beef burger along with bison, wild boar, chicken, and Beyond Meat options. Once you select the base, choose from eight signature sets of burger toppings like the Afterburner with 4-alarm sauce, jalapeños, and pepper jack cheese or the Barstool Rodeo with pulled pork, bacon, barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, and cole slaw. You can also put the full menu of toppings (like sweet fig jam and basic lettuce and tomato) to work to craft your own burger.
The Salt Line
The Salt Line may be known for summer seafood must-haves like fried clams and lobster rolls, but don’t speed past the other menu options. In particular, the New England Smash Burger is the platonic ideal of a cheeseburger. Two ground chuck patties are seared to crispy perfection, then topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayo, on a sesame potato bun. Side choices include fries or greens to complete this simple, yet satisfying, meal.
This former food truck now has a storefront at Navy Yard and regularly parks the truck at NoMa’s Wundergarten, so you have options when you want a spiral-cut hot dog or crispy smash burger. The Stack, a double cheeseburger with grass-fed beef patties, arugula, shallots, dill pickles, and dijonnaise along with a side of Golden Spudz makes for a great meal. Plus, this spot offers a sweet potato veggie burger that’s made in house, so vegetarians aren’t left out of all the fun at Swizzler.