A Smash Burger Joint Is Opening Inside Ethiopian-Inspired Doro Soul Food

Mélange Burger serves just three beef burgers on French milk bread buns

Chef Elias Taddesse of Doro Soul Food is bringing back a new version of Mélange. Photograph by Kimberly Kong.

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Mélange Burger. 1819 Seventh St., NW (inside Doro Soul Food).

Chef Elias Taddesse closed Mélange, his fast-casual spot serving doro-wat-style fried chicken and burgers with berbere fries, last spring. Now the concept is being reborn as Mélange Burger, a takeout-only pop-up with a streamlined menu of classic smash burgers on French milk bread buns. It opens inside Doro Soul Food, Taddesse’s Ethiopian-style fried chicken and comfort food restaurant in Shaw, on Tuesday, October 31.

Taddesse’s original vision for the first Mélange, which he opened in Mount Vernon Triangle in 2020, was a hybrid fast-casual, fine-dining restaurant. He’d serve daytime sandwiches and an evening tasting menu drawing from his French training and Ethiopian heritage. Instead, the pandemic led him to double down on takeout, even though the menu wasn’t optimized for that.

Mélange Burger won’t have the Ethiopian touches of the original. “This is straight American,” Taddesse says. “This is my fast-food, hopefully franchise-type of situation. It’s much easier to expand.”

The menu has just three beef burgers (all under $10), including a riff on a McDonald’s Big Mac dubbed “the McDowell” (a reference to the Eddie Murphy film Coming to America) and “the Oklahoma Onion” featuring pickled green tomatoes and fried onions. There’s also a veggie burger with a mushroom duxelles patty and smoked cheddar ($13.50). Customers can customize their burgers with add-ons like jalapeno/bacon jam or a fried egg.

Taddesse grinds his own beef using dry-aged cuts from Maryland’s Sassafras Farm. The ultra-fluffy milk bread buns are also baked in-house.

Meanwhile, Taddesse still has his eye on the upscale restaurant he initially conceptualized at Mélange: “It’s already in the works.”

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.