Where to Get the Best Burgers in DC

These 10 spots sling all types of patties, from juicy smash burgers to pimento cheese-topped flavor bombs

March 19, 2024 7:35 am
burger with two beef patties, melted cheese, and lettuce
The Popper at Ghostburger
Josh Phillips

A good hamburger functions as a blank canvas. The foundation of every great burger includes some essential parts — the patty, the bun and toppings — but how all those elements come together into a cohesive, scrumptious whole is up to the artist (read: the chef). Here in Washington, D.C., we’ve got a whole host of variations on the almighty American staple, but which ones are worth eating not just once, but again and again? Below, find our list of the 10 best burgers in D.C.

Duke’s Grocery

Navy Yard, Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle, Woodley Park

Here’s how good the burger — specifically the brunch burger — at Duke’s Grocery is: I had a friend from NYC who would make dedicated weekend trips down just to hang out and get a Duke’s burger for Sunday brunch. Two Creekstone Angus beef patties are topped with melted gouda, pickles, red onion, aioli, sprouts and a la carte options, including a runny egg (a must if you ask us), bacon and more. The result is about as close as you can get to an outright hangover cure — and it’s a burger worth trekking down from another city to enjoy.

Various Locations

Lucky Buns

Adams Morgan, Union Market, The Wharf

Offering six different spins on a classic burger, the various Lucky Buns locations in D.C. provide plenty of juicy and tender takes on a tried-and-true classic. Featured standouts include the OG, which is their spin on a traditional cheeseburger; for something more adventurous, try the the Alfies, which has pickled beetroot, or the Bogan, which has bacon XO jam. And, of course, they all pair extremely well with an order of thick-cut fries. 

Various Locations

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burger with double patty, lettuce, cheese, and french fries
Red Apron
SV Images

Red Apron

Navy Yard

Red Apron is now inside the Roost food hall, but I distinctly remember eating their burger when they were in their old Penn Quarter location. Red Apron’s three different burgers — a classic, a smokehouse style and the underappreciated pimento — are all ready and waiting to have either at the Roost or delivered to you at home from your favorite to-go service. Thankfully, they remain just as juicy, tender and flavorful as when I first had one almost a decade ago, and are absolutely worth the trek (either by you or by a well-tipped delivery driver) to taste.

1401 Pennsylvania Ave SE

Unconventional Diner

Shaw

Sesame-seed bun, American cheese, thin yet crispy patties — these are the fundamental building blocks of a classic burger, and Shaw’s Unconventional Diner has nailed them to the nth degree. You wouldn’t necessarily expect a restaurant that’s earned Michelin Bib Gourmand Awards to have one of the best burgers in town — something more refined, maybe? — and yet, that’s what makes Unconventional Diner so, well, unconventional. 

1207 9th St NW

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris eating Ghostburger
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris eating Ghostburger.
Adam Schultz/White House

Ghostburger

Shaw

Ghostburger got some splashy press in January 2023 after President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called in an order for two single-patty burgers. The pandemic smash (no pun intended, as the joint serves smash-style patties) started out of Espita’s kitchen and has moved on to become a massive hit. Ghostburger now offers a handful of standard options and a rotating “Burger of the Month” to keep patrons on their toes — and give you another reason to come back.

1250 9th St NW

The Golden Age

Dupont Circle

Last fall, yours truly had a few Martinis while hanging out late at Dupont’s the Golden Age. As the clock struck midnight, the bartender informed me they had a late-night special on their classic-style burger, so I immediately snagged one. The moment I took a bite, I knew I’d made a great choice: the result is an elevated version of a traditional fast food-style burger, with two dry-aged patties, shallots (!), Dijon mustard, cheese and a side of Zapp’s Chips to top it all off. Martini-induced or not, this is one hell of a tasty treat. 

1726 Connecticut Ave NW

burger with sesame bun and cheese, pickles and french fries on the side
Lutèce – Lunch Burger
Nayab Jade

Lutèce

Georgetown

Another one that’s only served during lunch, Lutèce’s burger is a dry-aged option that’s sandwiched between a classic toasted sesame bun. It’s served with two cornichons on top and aged cheddar, but you can also add an egg if so desired. The only thing better than the burger itself is pairing it with one of the bistro’s lovingly curated wines. 

1522 Wisconsin Ave NW

Parlour Victoria

Chinatown

Parlour Victoria has made a name for itself by being a primo destination for seafood, but their approach to turf is just as strong as its surf. The Victorian Burger is large enough to feed a child for a whole day, including prime Angus beef, white cheddar cheese (opting to remix the traditional approach slightly) and a good dab of sauce. Fries are an option for a side, but you can also snag a salad if you’re in need of some leafy greens.

1011 K St NW

Swizzler

Navy Yard

Be forewarned: Take a look at any photo of Swizzler’s smash burgers and you’ll be making plans for a stop immediately. The secret ingredients include grass-fed beef from Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and bread from Lyon Bakery out of Maryland. With solid fundamentals, Swizzler provides a gateway to inspired burgers, and they’re all well worth trying (though our favorite is the bacon jalapeno, which gives the perfect kick).

1259 First St SE

Bourbon Steak

Georgetown

While you can only get them on the lunch menu, Bourbon Steak’s burger listings are extensive and luxurious, ranging from a prime steak burger to a wagyu double burger to even a lamb burger. Hell, there’s even a turkey burger if that’s your desired option. Either way, the variety options makes it worth heading down to the Four Seasons for a long Friday lunch with the company card in tow to indulge accordingly. 

2800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

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