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Friday Question of the Day – Who has the Best Burger in DC?

by Prince Of Petworth — October 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm 114 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

With word that Kraze Burgers is likely coming to Barracks Row it got me thinking about all the new burger options in town. I think it’s time to crown a new “best burger”. I was pleasantly surprised by an incredibly delicious burger I had last weekend. So I’m voting for The Big Board located at 421 H St, NE. I had the Ciao Bella – Sliced prosciutto, aged mozzarella, roasted San Marzano tomato & roasted red pepper aioli. Freaking delicious.

So for the Friday Question of the Day – where is your favorite burger in town?

  • That’s a tough one, there’s so many good burgers in town. I like Good Stuff and Black and Orange.

    • Lolita gruesome

      +1 exactly the two places I thought of. I have never been to shake shack or rays… But I love the Obama burger at good stuff and every burger at the black n orange.

    • monkeyrotica
    • Anonymous

      I’ve had a really good Turkey Burger at BGR in Ballston, VA, and RagTime in Arlington used to have the best burger I’ve ever had, it came with shrimp on it, forget what it’s called. Both places beat (overpriced) Ray’s Hellburger easily in my opinion.

  • Boundary Stone’s bleu cheese and beet burger has to be tried to be believed.

    • LNNS

      Agree with the testament to Boundary Stone’s Bleu Burger. It’s rad. And the bacon burger is pretty great too. The chef simmers down maple syrup, coffee, bourbon, and bacon to make a “bacon jam” that goes on the bottom bun. Smokey sweet goodness.

      • That Boundary Stone burger blew my mind the first time I had it. Didn’t even use ketchup…and I’m a ketchup freak!

  • Shake Shack. Hands down.

    • SF

      Yeah, I’d love to say a local mom and pop joint, but… Shake Shack is the clear winner here.

      Second place goes to Ray’s Hell Burger, served in the Arlington or East River locales.

      • CJ

        i’d reverse those two, but yeah: hellburger and shake shack for me.

        there are quite a few i haven’t tried though…

        • Ray’s Helllburger – and it’s not even close.

      • Anonymous

        I’ve only had Shake Shack at the stadium, but there was absolutely nothing remarkable about it. Basically like Five Guys except the beef had no crust and was just kind of flat, grey, and flavorless. Five Guys is good, but these two places are both in a different (i.e., lower) class than what BGR, Black and Orange, the Bobby Flay place, and Good Stuff are aiming to be. The latter are aiming for a gourmet burger (some have far better results than others) with more daring toppings. Five Guys and Shake Shack are basically aiming to be McDonald’s except with actual beef and fresher preparation.

    • Shake Shack isn’t even in the same league as Ray’s, Black and Orange, BGR, BTS, Desperados, etc. Shake shack is a slightly better version of Five Guys, but it is still a “fast food” burger (though it takes them forever to cook). The others are gourmet burgers.

  • Los

    I do whenever mom brings me some In-N-Out when she comes to visit

    • Anony

      Yuck, *thinking cold and moldy by the time it finishes the trip east*

      • los

        The patty is cooked, but the burger is not assembled (apparently I’m not the only one who has ordered an In-N-Out for a transcontinental trip) so once the burger gets home I just need to warm it up and then put it together.

        Even after all that, it is far better than Shake Shack, Five Guys, Ray’s, Black and Orange.

    • AnoN

      That could sound really dirty, if read the wrong way.

  • Anonymous

    Annie’s Paramount Steak House on 17th Street

  • jason

    Tough question. Shake shack is…cool. Not a fantastic burger and not a bad burger. Just cool. I think its haunted being haunted by the ghost of Fuddruckers’ past.

    In any event, Black and Orange and Ray’s Hell Burger both have unique burgers, great beef, and great buns (#pause). Those are my picks for best. Its arguable which to put first. Of course there is the Bobby Flay’s place. Its good too. A burger from any of these places is great.

  • monkeyrotica

    Shake Shack. Makes Five Guys look like a pile of dried puke.

    Palena for the gourmet stuff. Those are some good burgers, Walter.

  • hcoppola

    Best burger I’ve had in town recently was at Standard.

  • Michael

    Palena Cafe. A real burger, not a fancy/overhyped/overpriced (ok, Palena’s expensive, but well worth it!) fast-food one like Black+Orange, Shake Shack, etc.

    • Mike

      +1. All hail the Palena burger.

  • Ray’s. No question.

    I am nowhere near as impressed with Shake Shack as most people are, I find their burgers sort of crumbly and dry. I like Black and Orange, but I’ve been given a stale bun there more than once.

    Palena actually has the best burger in DC, but it’s so many worlds better than all of the others that I don’t think it’s fair to put them in the same food category.

  • BR

    I’m very excited to have a new place nearby, though I’ve never tried or even heard of Kraze. I will always be partial to Good Stuff, though their quality has gone downhill over the years. I went to B&O back when it was Rogue States, and their burger was OK, though a little undercooked. Rays is obviously great, but it didn’t agree with my stomach later on…
    Shake Shack is pretty solid too, but one of the best burgers I’ve ever had was from their original location in the park in NYC.
    I’m hoping to try one of the politico burgers at BLT Steak soon. I bet those are amazing.

  • I’d like to weigh in for vegetarians by saying that DC Science Club has the best veggie burger in town. I’m also a fan of the veggie burger at Meridian Pint.

    • SB

      Ahh the veggie burger at Good Stuff is to die for.

      • Seconded. Their veggie burger is amazing.

        Kraze also makes a damn good veggie patty.

      • Anon

        Go to Shake Shack for the same thing – Spike stole the idea for the mushroom burger from Shake Shack.

    • The shroom burger at Shake Shack is my #1 veggie burger!

    • Anonymous

      I LOVE the veggie burger at Granville Moore’s.

  • I can’t beleive no one is mentioning BGR. Ray’s Hellburger and BGR are my fave. I’ve heard great things about Palena, but BGR is better than black and orange in my book. Shake Shack is where it’s at for greasy, hangover food but it’s not a quality burger… but hey, sometimes you just crave McD’s, too…

    • SB

      Agree about BGR! But I have yet to try Rays or Shake Shack outside of the stadium (never had a good burger from that location)

    • BGR’s Beef Wellington burger is to DIE for.

  • poo poo

    ok. i have to go *just* outside of dc for this one. elevation burger. if you haven’t been you need to go. i never knew that organic could taste so good.

    • monkeyrotica

      Deep frying frenchfries in olive oil = big mistake. Welcome to Soggytown! Population: YOUR PANTS.

  • A friend and I have been eating our way through all of DC’s burger joints. BGR wins hands down!

  • Anon

    Little Tavern, back in the day. 🙂

  • I haven’t tried a few of the burgers that have been mentioned here, but I definitely think that the burger at Mintwood Place should be in the discussion. That one is my personal favorites so far.

  • bb

    BGR Burger Joint for sure. Dino has a pretty great burger for the higher end category.

  • Anonymous

    Is the criteria best burger w/special ingredients etc. or best regular meat on a bun? Shake Shack wins the latter. The former would be BGR for me, with Black and Orange close second. BGR’s grilled jalapenos do it for me.

  • bb

    BGR is the best in DC proper, but Ray’s is the best overall. I’ve tried to like Black and Orange, but have been underwhelmed. Good Stuff is all about the delicious shakes, with the burgers being just OK.

  • No love for the lobster burger at Central?

    I’ll pile on the Black and Orange bandwagon and admit to a guilty, nostalgic fondness for Five Guys that dates back to when they had only two locations and the fries were always done right.

  • Mythatisatastyburger

    Shake Shack in Dupont. I am adding the fries and milkshake into that experience though. It’s freaking delicious.

    • Got to BTS and get yourself a better burger with fries and a delicious alcoholic milkshake…

  • Zest

  • Shake Shack burgers are very, very bland — might as well get a Big Mac. Five Guys is better — though my vote would be for BGR and Ray’s.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t eat red meat, but I will indulge in a turkey burger every now and then. Cheesecake Factory has a pretty good turkey burger, as far as chains go.

    • Talkin’ Turkey

      The turkey burger at the Tune Inn is the best in town IMHO…try it!

      • Anonymous

        Will do!

  • Shake Shack burger with the mushroom on top. ::drools:: I might just head there after work…

    • As for Kraze Burger, how is it? I walk by one every single day on my way to/from work but have never been.

      • bb

        Kraze is very good, I highly recommend it.

  • ctk

    Hellburger, hands down. A solid option not yet mentioned is Burger, Tap & Shake. Top of my “must try” list is Palena.

  • hrmmm

    red palace gets my vote – they cook a medium rare perfectly and it’s seasoned well. standard comes a close second for me…it’s similar to shake shack’s but i give ’em the edge since they’re local.

  • anthony

    My votes go to Ray’s and BGR. And for the dark horses I have to say I’m always so pleased when I get burgers at two other places: Stoney’s and the Red Derby. Sometimes a burger should just be a burger.

    • Agree with you on Red Derby, not Stoney’s. I think part of the reason was I heard so much about the latter, and found it to be very ordinary. I had super low expectations for Derby, and it was actually decent. Point being it might have been all due my expectations going into it (although I’ve had numerous derby burgers since the initial one and liked them all).

  • DC Mom

    It’s not a fancy burger, but Tortilla Cafe’s is awesome and cheap.

  • amethystdeceiver

    DC9. Standard. Black & Orange. In that order. Definitely not Shake Shack (makes you feel slightly sick right after eating) or BGR (overpriced and crappy).

  • Anonymous

    Not technically in DC, but Quarry House in Silver Spring has some AMAZING burgers.

    • anon

      +1 QH is great and Ray’s (also in Silver Spring) is great, though I appear to be the 584th person to mention Ray’s.

    • Izzy

      Just moved from Silver Spring to Dupont this year, and the one thing I miss is burgers and tater tots at Quarry House.

    • Anonymous

      I went to QH and got a burger based on this review- and I was not impressed. My medium was very well done (though my BF fared better there), and the flavor just wasn’t there. I wouldn’t go back for a burger. I did appreciate the tater tot swap for fries though!

  • Maybe it’s just because it was super-local, but Tonic in Mt. Pleasant has massive, delicious burgers with fresh toppings and they weren’t hesitant to serve it rare.

    • Are they still “well-seasoned”? Haven’t had one in years, but they used to be disgustingly overseasoned with God knows what. Perhaps worth another try if they’ve seen the error of their ways.

  • Elza

    I have to give my vote to The Pinch on 14th Street! Their burgers, especially the buffalo burger, as by far the best I’ve had in DC. I’m not super into the burger trend, but go out of my way to get them here. Don’t be fooled by the completely awkward and uncool decor and utter lack of curb appeal, the food is amazing and well priced.

    Rays in Arlington and (hate to admit it) Shake Shake get high marks from me as well.

    • anonymous

      Yes to the Pinch! Meat Lovers burger is my favorite in the area. Followed by The Wellington at BGR. DC9 and Big Board’s versions of the southwest burger (or whatever it’s called) rep well too! We are blessed with good burgers!

    • Anonymous

      I went to the Pinch on Friday and was blown away by the meat lovers burger. I wasn’t expecting much, but it was delicious. I’ll be back for sure. As stated above, the decor/exterior is not that great (okay… pretty bad) but the good food and friendliness exuded by the owners make up for it.

  • halfsmoke

    Best burger is off the Weber in my back yard…..also best steak.

  • Admittedly, I’ve never been to some of the burger places in DC (BGR, Black and Orange), but my favorite burger of the moment is the deluxe burger at Shaw’s Tavern. Rays, Shake Shake and the Standard are also good (Ray’s is probably the best of the 3 though).

  • Can’t believe no one has mentioned the burger at Dino’s in Cleveland Park (yes, it’s an Italian place, and the burger used to be bar menu only, but it’s so damn good it’s made it onto the regular menu). It’s overtaken the Palena burger, and I don’t say that lightly.

    Also a fan of Ray’s, and I want to try Mintwood Place’s. The other food there was excellent.

  • Rays Hellburger is leaps and bounds above the rest… but it’s not in DC so I can’t count it!

    KBC on 11th st definitely has the best DC burger- beef mixed with house-made pastrami!! So Good!!

  • Big fan of BGR and Ray’s. I’d vote for Rays. Here’s an excellent option that hasn’t come up yet: Bistro Bis. You need to sit at the bar and order off that menu. And it’s probably not quite worth the money, but it’s really quite excellent. If you hate your heart, order the hot chocolate with it in the winter. Their hot chocolate is the best I’ve ever had. A little pot of what seems to be high quality chocolate melted into heavy cream.

  • Anonymous

    Bourbon Steak, a thousand times.

  • cw

    5 guys. Bacon burger, Mayo, A1, Green Peppers, Grilled Mushrooms, Grilled Onions, lettuce, Jalapenos and Cajun fries stuffed in. The best well done burger in town. The bread is spongy and unsubstantial. Awesome. Bobby’s Burger Palace Blue burger is quite tasty too if you are in the mood for a rare one.

    • Even reading that made me crap my pants

  • Anonymous

    Has nobody mentioned Bobby Flay’s place on K ST because they’re not good or because nobody’s tried them? I’ve never been, so asking to inform my decision about whether to try it out or stick with a known fave.

    • cw

      They are great! One of my favs even over Ray’s. Straightforward burger, consistent too from chain to chain. I think it mainly aims for the work lunch crowd so it doesn’t get too much traffic from the foodsters.

    • Anon

      I’ve been to the one in CoPo (College Park – I just made that up!) and it’s pretty good.

      • Nora


    • I think the Flay burgers are really good, quality meat with some nice toppings, and they have a rotating burger of the month. You can also get the burger on a bed of salad Atkins-style. They will definitely send it out near raw, so don’t order medium-rare unless you’re serious. Their onion rings are also top notch.

  • Anonymous

    The saloon and B&O

  • People be sleepin’ on Saint Ex. That is a damn good burger.

  • Palena

  • JB

    Ollies trollies is one of the best in the city.

    • monkeyrotica

      For old time’s sake, I tried an Ollieburger a month ago. The place has flipped ownership several times in the past few years; I remember when the couple who owned it in the ’80s were selling kabobs with the burgers. But this thing was pathetic: zero flavor, nasty tepid cheese, and zero Ollie Sauce. Nothing like the original Ollie’s Trolly, sad to say.

  • nb

    Z-burger. at least for fast food. the seasoned fries are yummy too.

  • I know it isn’t hip, but I enjoy a good Ollie’s Trolley every now and then…

  • What about Burger Tap & Shake in Foggy Bottom? anyone been there? it’s right near where I work but I’ve never been.

  • Ray’s is my #1 choice. Haven’t been to Black and Orange. Found BGR to be decent. Shake shack? An overpriced in-n-out IMO. Don’t get the hype.

    Heard Bourbon Steak has the best burger in DC, but have yet to make it there.

  • Ray’s Hell Burger is the best in the area, period. I am also fond of Bobby’s Burger Palace’s Napa Valley Burger because the goat cheese plus Meyer lemon honey mustard on top is magic.

    BTS and Shake Shack burgers are bland bland bland.

    Over many visits, I have never had a BGR burger that was not swimming in grease and consequently, on a really soggy bun. Disgusting.

  • Saga king

    Its in Bethesda, but the Hickory Burger at Houston’s / Woodmont Grill with Canadian bacon and hickory sauce is still the best in the area after all these years, IMHO. Been eating them for 24 years, tried many others, but that’s still the top in the area.

  • I think the Big Board has a seriously underrated burger. Perfectly cooked every time, flavorful beef. This is hands down my go-to spot for a burger in town.

    Also, another one I’m shocked not to see mentioned: the burger at Matchbox. Onion straws, mushrooms, bacon, and gorgonzola? Dagger.

  • I’ll have to agree that Ray’s makes the best and most memorable burgers. I also don’t get the love for Shake Shack. Fairly tasty, but not even close to the hype. And if you care about the fries, forget about it. You might as well bake some frozen Ore-Idas. For the fast/relatively cheap spectrum, Five Guys is still the best.

    • monkeyrotica

      The problem with Five Guys fries is that they keep getting steamed potatoes in my grease.

  • Me.

  • Anonymous

    Fast Gourmet has an amazing burger!! Gotta get it with cheddar and mozzarella! AMAAAAAZING!

    • Hmm, I might have to try it. I generally go for the cuban, chivito, or steak and cheese.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Henry’s on the Hill! Not even close.

  • Identified

    Annie’s makes a fine burger. I also like the burger at DC Coast.

    I refuse to ever go to B & O, as they won’t cook my burger the way I want it. “Pink” or “no pink” is a ridiculous restriction for a compamy that markets itself as a “burger grilling company”.

  • ShermanCirlcle

    Central’s burger is pretty tasty, not just their lobster burger.

    An as yet unmentioned dark horse is Little Fountain Cafe, which has a damn fine burger. Even available in Angles upstairs.

  • Leah

    The Post Pub!!!!! and Shake Shack

  • Anonymous

    I’ve found the best burger to be 1905. It’s enormous, topped with brie, served on a soft bun, and accompanied by a ramekin of au jus.

    • Anonymous

      Totally agree with 1905. Plus they’re half price every Wednesday!

  • Anonymous

    The Black Squirrel has a great burger. Mintwood is a close second in the neighborhood.

  • Sam

    THUNDER in georgetown was pretty great! If you’re a dipping sauce fiend like me… my burger came with FOUR sauces: house made ketchup, ancho mayo, and two kinds of aioli: ginger and a scrumptious garlic one. Also, I’m surprised that CHEF GEOFF’S happy hour burger hasnt gotten any mentions. $5.95! And it has BACON

    • Sam

      Also….. if you’re down for a trek: MELT in Leesburg. Indescribably delicious.

  • Anonymous

    Z burger turkey burger, BGR, and bobby flay’s

  • aomare

    Bobby’s Burger Palace, Good Stuff Eatery, Shake Shack, brgr:shack (Ballston)

    I’m really surprised that more people didn’t mention Bobby’s Burger Palace. I also think the location (K st) hurts the place, but I recommend it for a clean/high-quality burger!

  • for the money…

    they may not be on the same gourmet level as many of the places mentioned above, but the Red Derby’s ‘derby burger” is a really good burger and it’s HALF PRICE every monday. can’t beat that with a frickin’ stick!

  • burgerman

    Black and Orange, BGR, Shake Shack, Ray’s…..now I love just about any and every burger just like there is no bad pizza but we are talking about the best…these places are for sustenance not deliscious burgers. Listen to the Prince Big Board has the best burger in town. For a close second you have to leave the burger joint crowd and head to Ris, Central, or Bourban Steak. I truly feel bad for anyone that engages in a debate between the likes of Black and Orange, BGR, Shake Shack, Ray’s, etc. You are truly missing out on life.

  • colheights

    Meridian Pint, hands down. all are awesome with super fresh bun and great meat. personal favorite is the Godzilla.

    second the Palena mention for a fancier outing. awesome burger there too.

  • Darin

    The Sunrise Burger at Granville Moore’s. Arguably the most flavorful burger, Bison or otherwise, in DC. Never disappoints, AND it’s got a runny egg on top. The biggest issue is going there after Brunch, and trying to pry an egg out of the kitchen, if you want the Dinner version.

  • The Heights! For pure juicy tasty meat goodness (they have their own farm of grass-eating happy organic cows!) you can’t beat it. Plus they know how to cook it rare! And reduced price during happy hour.


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