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).