A Smash Burger Shop With Ube Ice Cream Is Opening in Mount Pleasant

Purple Patch owner Patrice Cleary will open Joia Burger on Wednesday, March 6.

Joia Burger chops up lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle to order then mixes it with special sauce. Photograph by 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’s created the same kind of affordable burger spot for Mount Pleasant. On Wednesday, March 6, she opens Joia Burger, serving a very small menu of smash burgers, fries, and ube soft-serve ice cream.

Customers will have two options in between their potato rolls: an American wagyu beef burger or a vegetarian bean patty. The only other choice is whether you want single, double, triple patties ($9, $17, $24). The beef burger is topped with American cheese and lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle that’s diced together to order (a la Chopt) then mixed with special sauce. (Though if you want to leave out, say, onions, no problem.)

“For me, the concept is really the perfect bite from start to finish,” Cleary says. “I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, and everybody’s laughed at me. I hate when the tomato slides off. I hate when the onion slides off. I hate an oversized piece of lettuce. So we chop everything and we mix it.”

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

The vegetarian burger is made in house with three types of beans, wild rice, brown rice, oats, carrots, and onions. It comes topped with Purple Patch’s Filipino-style papaya salad and special sauce. You can also opt to add the papaya salad to the beef burger, or get the default beef burger toppings on the veggie burger.

On the side: fries and soft-serve. The ice cream will come in just the one flavor—purple ube—with the option for toasted coconut or sprinkles. 

Children under 12 can also get a “Liam’s Lunchbox” kid’s meal, named after Cleary’s youngest son. It comes with a plain cheeseburger, small fries, and ube soft-serve for $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. Adults can snag a handful of canned beers and wines.

The space, replacing Taqueria Nacional, has a bright, clean look with some Filipino accents and a quartz countertop with 10 stools. The patio has another 21 seats (but no table service).  

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.’”

The restaurant will be open Wednesday to Sunday to start, from 11 AM to 10 PM.

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.