If the thought of pink slime turns you off Memorial Day burgers, don't give up the tradition--just head to your local butcher. Several meat shops and markets around Washington grind top-quality hunks of meat daily, if not to order, ensuring pristine patties. More in the mood to grind your own? Check out tips from Ray's Hell-Burger owner Michael Landrum, and then ask the butcher to recommend whole cuts. Call ahead, as several shops are closed on Mondays or will observe holiday hours.
Chef Robert Wiedmaier's gourmet market is a solid stop for grab-and-go burger patties, a mix of dry-aged Angus beef and veal seasoned with caramelized onions, parsley, and spices. You can also call in customized orders.
"Hamburger meat ground fresh four times a day!" is the slogan at this decades-old Laurel market. The all-natural, additive-free USDA ground beef is a mix of chuck, round, and sirloin, giving a solid balance of lean and fat. Not in the mood for patties? New York strip and Delmonico steaks are on special.
You'll have a tough choice between the freshly ground beef--roughly an 80/20 mix of chuck and prime steak trimmings--and Greg Norman Wagyu beef from Australia at this Del Ray shop. Either way, try Aussie butcher Steve Gatward's favorite preparation: a patty topped with cheese, egg, bacon, and pickled beets.
Some of the most creative butcher-shop burgers can be found here, including "stuffed" beef burgers with bacon and cheddar or jalapeño and Swiss, plus wild boar and bacon patties. There's also house-ground beef, grass-fed Wagyu, and a deluxe blend of short ribs and brisket.
While not a butcher shop, this 14th Street market brings in high-quality products from farms in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The 100 percent grass-fed Black Angus ground beef is dry-aged for three weeks--tenderizing what could be tougher meat--and is available in packages or patties.
Chef Cathal Armstrong's new-ish Alexandria commissary includes a butcher counter, where you can pick up ground-to-order meat and patties made with certified Angus beef from Roseda or Pine Ridge farms.
Chef-turned-butcher Jamie Stachowski grinds meat to order at his newly opened shop in Georgetown, utilizing trimmings from prime cuts like tenderloin and local chuck meat from Martin's in Delaplane, Virginia. Request as little--or as much--fat as you want in the ground meat.
Locally raised, hormone-free, kosher-beef burgers arrive in two varieties at this Spring Valley market: lean freshly ground sirloin and a fattier (i.e., juicier) mix with chuck. Looking for something special? Go for "Wagshal's special blend," a grind-to-order mix of sirloin, short rib, and brisket.