A Breakdown of the 10 Burger Styles You’ll See Around DC

And the best places to find them.

Melange. Photo by Scott Suchman

1. The Big Mac Riff

McDonald’s star offering—double cheeseburger, special sauce—has launched dozens of higher-end homages.

Best in class: The Classic—with iceberg lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, and brown-butter aïoli—at Mélange (Mount Vernon Triangle).

2. The French Bistro Burger

The double cheeseburger that currently reigns in banquetted dining rooms is staunchly rooted in the States.

Best in class: The Burger Américain—a double patty with American cheese, pickles, onions, and special sauce—at Le Diplomate (Logan Circle).

3. The Finer Fast-Food Burger

The contours of a drive-through burger, just with better ingredients and more creative toppings.

Best in class: The grass-fed-beef burgers—done up with add-ons such as candied jalapeños, shallots, and arugula—at Swizzler (Navy Yard).

4. The New-Wave Plant Burger

Many places use Impossible or Beyond Meat patties—or make their own—then add accessories such as vegan cheese and faux bacon.

Best in class: The Monkey Wrench—a beet (or Impossible) patty topped with barbecue sauce, tofu/seitan bacon, cashew American cheese, and gluten-free onion rings—at Bubbie’s Plant Burgers (Dupont Circle).

5. The Smash Burger

A patty smashed to lacy thinness on a griddle, usually served on a grocery-store bun. It’s less about the meat, more about the gestalt.

Best in class: The Ghostburger—with American cheese, onions, and pickles—at Ghostburger (Shaw).

6. The Luxe Burger

Truffles, lobster, foie gras, A5 Wagyu beef—they’ve all been spun into $30-plus burgers.

Best in class: The tomato-topped lobster burger at Central (Penn Quarter).

7. The Hangover Burger

Giant, messy, and almost always topped with an egg.

Best in class: The Breakfast Burger—with bacon, caramelized onions, American cheese, and an oozy fried egg—at Boundary Stone (Bloomingdale).

8. The Steakhouse Burger

A thick burger that’s all about showing off the quality of the ground beef, which is often fortified with trimmings from expensive cuts.

Best in class: Randy’s Cheeseburger—with a Wagyu/prime-beef patty, caramelized onions, Gruyère, and béarnaise aïoli—at Randy’s Prime Seafood & Steaks (Vienna).

9. The Bar Burger

Straightforward in every way—a moderately thick patty that’s often served just with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a cup of Heinz.

Best in class: The Cook’s House—with pickles, spicy mayo, bacon, and cheddar—at Franklins (Hyattsville).

10. The Old-School Veggie Burger

A fat patty with easily identifiable ingredients like beans, rice, and onion.

Best in class: The housemade veggie burger, with a beet tint and sweet soy glaze, at Woodmont Grill (Bethesda).

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.

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.