Faced with limited capacity due to Covid restrictions, DC restaurants are getting creative and maximizing space by creating ghost kitchens (takeout-only concepts). Espita Mezcaleria is the latest player to throw their spatula into the ghost game, with former chef Rob Aikens returning to the Shaw kitchen. Ghostburger starts slinging smashed patties on Tuesday, August 25 with a to-go menu of burgers, cheesesteaks, fries, and boozy milkshakes.
Espita is known for its Oaxcan fare, and traces of Mexican cooking can be found at Ghostburger. The opening menu features three smashburgers: A cheffy riff on a Big Mac with the house “spooky sauce,” a tomatillo relish and Oaxacan cheese combination, and an herbaceous burger topped with a verdant garden of sprouts and avocado. Each burger can be double-sized with an extra patty, and layered with carnitas or bacon for an additional cost. In the era of the $20 burger, each all-American beef patty clocks in at a more affordable $9 to $10.
Offerings go beyond burgers. Bemoaning the lack of cheesesteak options in DC, Espita’s team of Philadelphia expats took matters into their own hands.
“We originally were toying with the idea of doing whiz because we’re kind of purists, and then at the same point, that conflicted with the fact that we make everything from scratch at Espita,” says co-owner Josh Phillips. “So we’re like well, can we make a better Cheez Whiz? Turns out yes, we can.”
The result is a house-made sauce combining American and cheddar cheese with a jalapeño kick. Whiz is layered over shaved ribeye and caramelized onion. You can also get all the cheesesteak ingredients loaded over crinkle-cut fries.
Creative burgers and fries are accompanied by diner-style drinks with an adult twist — think boozy strawberry milkshakes and rum-spiked milk punch. The burger joint also created Ghost Claw, a bubbly gin-based remix of White Claw.
Although the concept is strictly to-go for now, Ghostburger has dine-in ambitions. Eventually the kitchen may add a streetery in the parking spots next to Espita.
Ghostburger will be open Monday to Thursday, 4 PM to 9:30 PM; Friday, 4 PM to 10:30 PM; Saturday, 11 AM to 10:30 PM; Sunday, 11 AM to 9:30 PM. Available for takeout and delivery on Caviar, DoorDash, and UberEats.
Check out the menu: