A Smash Burger Shop With Ube Ice Cream Is Coming to Mount Pleasant

Purple Patch owner Patrice Cleary will open Joia Burger in November.

Purple Patch owner Patrice Cleary is opening the burger shop of her childhood dreams. Photograph courtesy Purple Patch/Albert Ting.

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Joia Burger. 3213 Mt Pleasant St., NW.

A simple burger with fries and ice cream is Patrice Cleary’s nostalgic childhood comfort food. The owner of Mount Pleasant Filipino restaurant Purple Patch grew up in a military family that traveled a lot, but she fondly remembers burger pitstops in her father’s Massachusetts hometown. “My parents were on a military budget, and we didn’t have a lot of money. So, you know, going out sometimes meant just having burgers and fries,” Cleary says.

Now, she wants to create the same kind of affordable burger spot for Mount Pleasant. By late November, she plans to open Joia Burger, which will serve a small menu with smash burgers, fries, and ube soft-serve ice cream.

Cleary says one of her top goals is to provide a quality kid’s meal with all three items for no more than $10. “My big focus on this is making affordable burgers and meals for the neighborhood, and for kids. And really, that’s what’s driving me to do this,” Cleary says.

Cleary is still doing R&D—”dating a burger,” as she calls it—but expect options for single, double, and triple patties. During the earlier days of the pandemic, Purple Patch operated a basement butcher shop, where chef Bill Williamson sourced high-end meats and ground burger patties from dry-aged beef trimmings. Cleary says she’s hoping to create something as delicious even though the butcher shop is now gone. 

Toppings are also TBD, but she is thinking about at least some Filipino toppings such as atchara, a pickled papaya slaw. As for fries, expect the super-thin McDonald’s style. “The one thing about McDonald’s fries is even when you’re in the very bottom of the bag, and the fries are cold, you’re still eating them. You’re not throwing them away,” Cleary says. Soft-serve will come in just the one flavor—purple ube. 

The space, replacing Taqueria Nacional, is currently being renovated to create a bright, clean look. Cleary is installing a quartz countertop with space for 14 to 16 patrons to pull up a stool. The patio has another dozen seats.  

The name Joia also Harkens back to Cleary’s childhood. She lived for a while in the Azores, Portugal, where she raced horses. The name of her first horse was Joia, meaning joy. “If you say the word quickly—Joia—you can almost say, ‘Enjoy a burger.’”

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.