Best Bar Food: Burgers, Sandwiches, and More

Best Bar Food: Burgers, Sandwiches, and More
Brine's burger with "secret sauce" and farmhouse cheese. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

To see the rest of our Bar Snacks package, including where to get lobster quesadillas, ham croquetas, and beer cheese, click here.

Ham-and-Cheese Sliders

Tiki drinks can get complicated, but the sliders at island-inflected Archipelago (1201 U St., NW; 202-627-0794) are as simple as it gets: ham, Gruyère, and cheddar melted on toasted King’s Hawaiian rolls slathered with mustard butter.

Burger

Rappahannock Oyster Co. bivalves are a big draw at Brine (2985 District Ave., Fairfax; 703-280-1000)—especially for $1.25 at happy hour—but we can’t pass up the patty. The house blend of chuck gets a turn on a plancha griddle, then is decked out with onion jam, creamy “secret sauce,” farmhouse cheese, and brightly dressed shredded lettuce—all on sesame-studded brioche.

Wing Dog

Can’t decide whether to get Buffalo wings or a hot dog? Good news: You don’t have to at Ivy & Coney (1537 Seventh St., NW; 202-670-9489). The divey Shaw bar deep-fries a chicken-chili sausage, slathers it in Buffalo sauce and ranch, crumbles blue cheese and celery on top, and tucks it into a bun.

Arepas

You can’t go wrong with the beef-and-avocado-filled version of this South American street food. But at the Royal (501 Florida Ave., NW; 202-332-7777) in LeDroit Park, try the rendition stuffed with hearts of palm, cabbage, and carrot. The pink salsa rosada—which is typically just mayo and ketchup—is elevated with smoked paprika and pickled onion.

Grilled Cheese

There’s nothing particularly fancy about the grilled cheeses at Spacebar (709 W. Broad St., Falls Church; 703-992-0777), and that’s precisely why they’re so great. Of the 20 sandwiches—in addition to build-your-own options—we most love the creation stuffed with pulled barbecue pork, fried shallots, and sharp cheddar on rye.

Waffles

You’ll never want to eat a normal waffle again after inhaling these delicacies at the José Andrés–run cocktail lounge Barmini (501 Ninth St., NW; 202-393-4451). You can choose from three savory versions, including one enriched with foie gras, but the winner is the cheesesteak-inspired Philly waffle filled with aged-cheddar espuma and topped with carpaccio-thin Wagyu beef and caramelized onions.

Fried-Chicken Sandwich

Far fancier dining rooms have been trying their hands at this trendy sandwich, but the one we return to is at Solly’s Tavern (1942 11th St., NW; 202-232-6590). Created by the folks behind the excellent Sloppy Mama’s BBQ, it combines a smoked-and-fried chicken thigh with copious sweet pickles.

Half-Smoke

The District’s hometown sausage gets plenty of love at Shaw’s the Passenger (1539 Seventh St., NW; 202-853-3588), where spicy Stachowski-brand pork-and-beef franks pop up twice on the menu. Pick between a corn dog glazed in zesty ancho-honey sauce or a version nestled in a bun and smothered in pork-cheek chili, cheese, and plenty of chopped onion. Or just order both.

This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Washingtonian.

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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 Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.