Eat This Now: Happy Hour Burger at G by Mike Isabella

We found the post-work snack of our dreams—and snagged the recipe.

Buffalo wings, meet burger. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

At Mike Isabella’s 14th Street sandwich shop, I’m so hooked on the goat sub that it’s rare that I branch out and try something new. That, I realized on a visit last week, is a shame—Isabella’s rotation of sandwiches designed by guest chefs contains a few knockouts of its own. There’s Jonah Kim’s Kim-fil-A, anchored by a fried chicken patty that tastes eerily (and wonderfully) similar to what you’ll get at a Chick-fil-A drive-thru—but also loaded with tangy fermented-chili slaw, bacon, and that long-forgotten cheese, Muenster. Even better is a new addition to the lineup from Carla Hall, the sunny cohost of The Chew who just announced plans to bring a Nashville hot chicken restaurant to New York, and eventually, DC.

Her Buffalo-wing-inspired Happy Hour Burger is made up of a thick chicken patty that, unlike pretty much every other chicken patty I’ve had, is far more juicy than rubbery. It’s set on a soft Lyon Bakery potato roll, slathered with spicy mayo (Frank’s hot sauce gives it the kick), and piled with crunchy celery-and-blue-cheese slaw. Basically, it’s exactly what you’d hope for as a happy hour snack. Or for lunch. Or dinner.

It’s currently on the menu at G through the end of October. If you can’t make it there in time, though, we’ve got Hall’s recipe.

Carla Hall’s Happy Hour Burger

Serves 4

Make the spicy mayonnaise:

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon hot sauce (preferably Frank’s)

2 teaspoons honey

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, hot sauce, honey, and cayenne until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.

Make the celery/blue-cheese slaw:

4 celery ribs, thinly sliced at an angle

½ cup very thinly sliced red onion

½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon lemon zest

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup crumbled blue cheese

In a large bowl, combine the celery, onions, and parsley. Add the vinegar, oil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and toss well. Gently toss in the blue cheese.

Make the burgers:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for frying

cup minced yellow onion

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons hot sauce (preferably Frank’s)

½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1¼ pounds coarsely ground chicken or turkey breast meat

4 brioche or potato buns, toasted if desired

In a small skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the butter and oil. When the butter is almost melted, add the onion and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, then stir in the garlic. When the onion is golden and tender, stir in the hot sauce, thyme, chili flakes, and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.

Combine the chicken with the cooled onions using slightly damp hands. You want it well mixed, but you don’t want to squeeze it and make it tough. Form the mixture into four burgers ½-inch larger in diameter than the buns. Use your thumb to dimple the center of each patty.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook until browned, about 3 minutes, then carefully flip them. Cook until the other side is browned and the meat cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. The burger will feel firm and the juices will run clear.

Slather the spicy mayo on the buns. Divide the burgers among the bun bottoms and top with the slaw. Sandwich with the bun tops and serve immediately.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.