The 18 Best Burger Joints in DC
Get your fix.
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.
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 Gee Washington Carver challenge you to try a burger smothered with peanut butter, bacon, and fried shallots.
At this pandemic-born ghost kitchen by the folks behind Espita Mezcaleria, the burgers range from a classic option, to a “Reuben-esque” version with pickled red cabbage and mushrooms, to the La Hamburguesa with Queso Oaxaca and smoked tomatillo relish. In addition to the to-go option, the Ghostburger menu is also available at Espita, so sip a mezcal cocktail on the side for maximum enjoyment.
At this playful all-day cafe, Erik Bruner Yang and chef Armani Johnson offer up a small but mighty menu of burgers and sides. The AJ (Johnson’s namesake) tops a beef patty with crab dip, Old Bay onions, and lettuce, whereas the EBY (named after Bruner-Yang) comes with char-siu bacon and smoked aioli. Customers can also build their own burgers with toppings ranging from the basic like lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and pickles, to handcrafted, creative toppings like bleu cheese aioli and chili crisp ranch.
Chef Geoff’s popular and reliable CG Burger—topped with crispy bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, and chipotle aioli—has been a happy hour favorite in the city for years. And now that there are two locations, in Cathedral Heights and the West End, you can get this DC staple whether you’re downtown or a bit further from the Mall.
At Shaw’s Convivial, you’ll find French bistro classics like trout almondine, cassoulet, and beef bourguignon. But it’s hard to go wrong with the burger. The double patty burger comes topped with American cheese, bacon, and a side of fries. It’s a classic that’s served 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, Duke’s signature, 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. We are fans of the standard burger, a classic topped with cheese, pickles, onions, tomatoes, and burger sauce, served with our hand-cut fries. And, of course, pairing it with a tall stein of beer is the recipe for a perfect summer afternoon.
Good Stuff Eatery
President Obama loved burgers so much that Spike Mendelsohn named one for him. So needless to say, it’s worth trying. The Prez Obama burger is covered in horseradish mayo and adorned with applewood bacon, onion marmalade, and Roquefort cheese, but you can’t go wrong with anything on this extensive burger, fries, and milkshake menu.
This tri-level corner spot from the Jack Rose team is known for rare spirits and killer cocktails, but the burger is a sleeper hit. The Double Decker comes topped with gruyere, caramelized onion, mushrooms, and “horsey sauce,” and packs a flavorful punch. The spot also does a brunch event called Itty Bitty Sandwich City every weekend until 5 pm, where you can get three tiny burgers or other sandwiches for about $10.
Le Diplomate’s Burger Americain is a fancy-ish 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 burger comes with gouda and bacon jam, and the El Jefe has hatch green chili relish and queso fresco. A vegetarian mushroom and lentil burger is also available, and most of this spot’s burgers can be made with an Impossible patty as well. With the mainstay location, and pop-ups at Union Market and Capital One Arena, a mouthwatering burger from Lucky Buns is never too 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. The Classic burger 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 Italian option 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 burger takes a wood-grilled, dry-aged patty and tops it with applewood smoked bacon and cheddar 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, 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 customizable burgers that come on a potato bun along with a side of tater tots. Toppings choices run the gamut from basic lettuce, tomato, and onion, to a super spicy option with jalapenos and “4-alarm sauce,” to sweet fig jam.
The Salt Line
The Salt Line’s to go menu includes the down-to-earth smash burger which consists of two ground chuck patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayo, on a sesame potato bun. Side choices include fries, kale slaw, or street corn salad. So simple, yet so satisfying.
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 Swizz Stack, a double cheeseburger with grass-fed beef, arugula, shallots, dill pickles, and dijonnaise along with a side of parmesan truffle fries makes for a great meal. Plus, this spot doesn’t skimp on the vegetarian options. It has two veggie burger options on the menu, one made from sweet potato-tahini with classic burger toppings plus avocado, and the other made from beets that comes topped with goat cheese, candied jalapenos, shallot, and arugula.