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The Eight Best Burgers in DC according to Thrillist. Accurate?

by Prince Of Petworth May 25, 2017 at 12:25 pm 112 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Harry

“Dear PoPville,

Thrillist has a food critic that traveled across the country for the past year in search of the best burger in America.

It turns out, despite his initial pessimism about the DC burger scene, DC has some damn good burger joints! He ranked his top 8 of the city, calling it one of the most underrated cities of his trip. And then at the release of his top 100, 4 of those 8 were selected, with Duke’s Grocery’s Proper Burger coming in at #5 overall! Pretty cool if you ask me.

What does PoPville think of his rankings?”

DC’s top 8 are:

1. Proper Burger
Duke’s Grocery

2. Oak-fired prime steak burger
The Lounge at Bourbon Steak

3. The Mack
Ray’s Hell Burger

4. Burger Americain
Le Diplomate

5. Farmhouse Cheese
Good Stuff Eatery

6. Six Buck Chuck with American and Caramelized Onions
Burger Tap & Shake

7. Double Pimento Cheeseburger

8. The Grill Room Burger
The Grill Room”

  • Anon

    DC9’s western burger would be my top pick for DC. Fries are excellent as well.

    Love Goodstuff, I personally prefer their Obama burger with red onion remoulade.

    • fka Petworth

      DC9 should have made the list, though I prefer the Slawter

    • danger dave

      obama burger +1

    • Crazyquilt

      +1 for DC9, but I prefer the Slawter

    • Rabiznaz

      +1 for DC9, their burgers are phenomenal. I’ve found it takes one visit to make anyone a believer.

  • ASLL

    Morning Glory Burger
    Slash Run

    • samanda_bynes

      a lot of slash run’s are a goddamn city treasure.

      • NH Ave Hiker

        I third Slash Run. Their burgers are top notch

        • Anonymous

          Slash Run is merely okay to me. And I don’t get why they don’t have real French fries.

    • bean

      I wish the service at Slash Run was better bc their food is good. They even do a really good veggie burger, if you’re into that sort of thing.

      • NH Ave Hiker

        I’ve always had their service be wicked fast.

        • samanda_bynes

          same, the initial interaction can sometimes take a minute, but once they notice you, it’s all good.

      • abner_eyewink

        Slash Run is great, but their schnitzel is sorely missed.

    • Carey

      Their burgers are good. I just wish their menu had a little more to choose from when you don’t want a burger or a chicken sandwich for dinner.

  • MadMax

    So, I would say that he included many of the best burgers. Although it should be caveated that he obviously didn’t try everything in the city so there will be omissions. I’m pretty sure he literally tried 8 (based on submissions) and these are those 8 in order. For my money, the Bourbon Steak burger is by far #1. Duke’s is also great, as is The Partisan burger and the burger at Fainting Goat. Good Stuff and BTS have no business in the top 10 if it were a truly exhaustive list, but I can understand wanting to provide a few “cheap” options for readers.

    • MadMax

      (I also thought Palena’s burger, which he mentions briefly, was always extremely overrated.)

      • Carey

        Nearly everything about Palena was overrated.

        • MadMax

          No disagreement here.

    • Bobert

      Eh, I feel like $12 is more than fair for the Duke’s burger – probably can’t expect too much at a far lower price point.

      • MadMax

        Not sure what you mean, I think Duke’s is totally fair as well. I never commented on the price of that burger.

        • Bobert

          Sorry, that wasn’t clear. I was more taking issue with the (presumed) addition of the cheaper options by the critic just so that it’s not all $$$ burgers. Just saying that a $12 burger seems “cheap enough” for a big city market, so the critic shouldn’t have felt forced to add cheaper options just to do so. Wasn’t taking issue with your actual comment.

          • MadMax

            Ah, yeah, I think of Duke’s in a totally different vein than those two, so even though the price is reasonable for DC it’s not quite Chipotle-for-burgers.

        • Tsar of Truxton

          You inferred that Good Stuff and BTS were the only “cheap” options on the list by stating that they were only included to provide “cheap” options to the readers when in fact 4 of the 8 were “cheap” options (Good Stuff, BTS, Ray’s and Duke’s).

          • dcd

            I know I’m not supposed to do this (though technically it is vocabulary, not grammar), but it is a pet peeve. The speaker implies, the listener infers. In other words, Max implied it, you inferred it.
            Sorry for being anal. Carry on.

    • Anon NS

      I agree re Fainting Goat. Simple but well done.

    • Anonymous

      The BTS Six Buck Chuck burger is amazing.

    • dcd

      I agree about Bourbon Steak, but the lamb burger there is my favorite. Absolutely delicious.

      • MadMax

        Yeah I like the lamb burger too, especially that cheese. It would be so unfair to put that up against other beef burgers though!

  • kate

    Duke’s Proper Burger is good, but it’s huge and hard to eat. I really like the burgers at Homestead in Petworth.

  • AS

    Macon’s is really good.

    • dcd

      Yes it is. Also, Chez Billy Sud.

    • Truxton Thomas

      Going to have to try it. Love Macon.

  • Bobert

    I just stuffed my face for lunch, but now I’m really craving a burger. Damnit, there’s no room there for a burger now.

    • skj84

      same. Just had a beef quesadilla, but a burger would’ve been better.

  • JT

    Glad to see Eatbar’s pimento burger. So crave-worthy!

  • CLD

    If I ever left DC, I’d travel back just for a burger at Big Board.

    • Caroline

      No joke, their Rose City PDX is the best veggie burger I’ve ever had.

    • MadMax

      I hated their burgers, but I only went a couple times a few years ago when they first opened. I’ll have to go back and give them another shot.

      • jim_ed

        I like Big Board, but I put their burgers in the same category as Desperados, a solid B/B+ burger with good reliability, but not the kind I’d make a special trip for.

        • MadMax

          Just down the street from BB is Kitty’s Saloon, which does half price burgers on Monday and makes a pretty mean one, and comes with a side of potato wedge “fries”. Really solid deal and usually gets my burger business for the stretch, unless I’m feeling like one of the behemoths at Queen Vic.

    • H Streeter

      They have the best burgers in D.C. in my opinion. My Favorite is the Big Apple.

  • pb1

    How does Partisan not make it high on this list?

    • MadMax

      He didn’t go there.

  • Tom

    I had a burger from Dirty Goose for the first time last night, and it was legit. Excellent fries, too.

  • WashingtonBullets

    How in the H. E. double hockey sticks is Pearl Dives Dive Burger not on that list?!? Easily top 3 in DC and I would add Shake Shack as well (though a NYC burger for sure).

    • Bryan

      Shake shack burgers are disgusting. It’s fine for a chain restaurant but in comparison to these? Hell no.

      • MadMax

        Yeah, just burnt meat. Ironically reminiscent of a hockey puck.

    • MadMax

      Like other mentions, he didn’t go there. This is just a ranking of the 8 places he visited.

  • Dogg

    Always liked Black Squirrel. A little unique taste but they may have switched how they prepared them years ago (not sure)

    • dcgator

      Oh man, I had a burger there late 2016 and it was probably the worst burger I’ve had in DC (aside from Howard Theatre’s overpriced ~$20 disaster).

      • Bobert

        I too have made the mistake of ordering that burger at Howard (though I think it was $16 at the time). It was woeful for a burger half that price.

      • Carey

        I have to wonder if the original chef jumped ship at some point. I can remember hearing people rave about their food, but the two times I’ve eaten there (over the last two years) it was not good by any stretch of the imagination.

        • Bobert

          I think they always used frozen patties for their burgers. My anecdote was from shortly after they opened.

    • anonymous

      Second Black Squirrel. Admittedly, it can be hit or miss sometimes, and occasionally they’ll overcook it, but generally one of our favorite spots. I also really like Rebellion’s 1836 burger.

  • Rich

    Good Stuff is fine, but I wouldn’t go out of my way. Ditto Ray’s. LeDiplomate is the epitome of overpriced & mediocre. The most memorable burger I’ve had recently was in LA (actually, Pasadena) where they have great choices w/o the pretense or faddishness (and LA is filled with pretense and faddishness about other stuff).

    • Kingman Park It

      Solid comment to a thread about DC burgers.

  • Anon

    Agree with most of these but EatBar was the worst dining experience I have had in DC in a very long time. And that burger (which I ate) was ridiculously overpriced—terrible customer service as well!

    • Anonymous

      I adore EatBar. It’s in my neighborhood so have eaten there many times and love everything from the menu to the ambiance to the service. It’s a bummer that you didn’t have the same experience but I suppose one place can’t work for everyone.

      • MadMax

        Yeah I’m a huge fan of EatBar, I wish the neighborhood had more places like it, and I find all the prices to be incredibly reasonable for the quality.

  • They really have Good Stuff on here but not Slash Run? Blasphemy.

    • danger dave

      I had an awful experience there – burger was fine

  • CoHi

    I used to think that the Blue Burger in the Wonderland Ballroom was the best in DC. Taking it off the menu was criminal in my opinion.

    • samanda_bynes

      ohhhh man, yeah that was a banger

    • crayons

      That Blue Burger was delicious. Had many of them due to close proximity. But nowhere best in town KBC used to have a better burger on the same street. Duke’s is my favorite and I am craving one right now.

  • Bobert

    Boundary Stone used to have an awesome burger. :-/

    • Kingman Park It

      Yeaaaa that Bleu burger was so so good. I was bummed when they took that off.

    • MadMax

      St. Ex used to have an amazing burger too, but it disappeared when they changed chefs years back.

      • iwdc

        That burger was amazing! It stopped being good after they got rid of their wood-burning grill.

        • MadMax

          I really miss their fried green tomato BLT too, got me through many a Saturday morning after.

      • dcd

        I don’t remember their burger, but I had a dish there once that, I think, was just roasted pork piled on bread that sopped up the pork drippings. So damn good.

        • MadMax

          Sounds similar to the OMFG Dip that used to be at PS7s, which apparently is available now at Beuchert’s (off-menu). That was my favorite sandwich in the city for a long time.

  • Anon

    Boundary Stones burgers are still awesome. I’d put their blue cheese beet & bacon jam burger head to head with any of these

    • Bobert

      I disagree. The new meat recipe tastes of frozen meat (though it’s better than the frozen patties they used shortly after their reno).

  • Frmer_Silver_Springer

    Quarry House!
    Quarry House!
    Quarry House!

    While they may be temporarily closed, in no way is this list even close to being accurate without adding Quarry House! to the list.

    • Anon

      Ooooh man forgot about Quarry House burgers. Those tots, too…

    • Anonymous

      They’ve been temporarily closed for two years.

      • Frmer_Silver_Springer

        They have been open at the former Pirates Tavern since then. Albeit that too has been closed, but opening soon.

  • SS

    It is impossible to rank burgers like this obviously, but the burger at Silo is consistently awesome.

  • Bort

    Bistro Bohem (minus the aioli)

  • Crazyquilt

    The Post Pub’s Diplomat Burger is pretty tasty (and cheap).

    • KY Ave

      Ooh I haven’t been there for years for a Dip. Now I want one!

  • hmm

    Agree with all of these. Love the Le Diplomate burger! I’d add the burger at Garden District as well as the burger at Pearl Dive/Black Jack (especially for the Sunday HH deal of the Black Jack burger for half price).

    • MadMax

      That half price HH deal is just crazy, I can’t believe they’ve been doing it so long. On HH that burger is easily the best bang for the buck in the city.

  • Commentator

    I am more of a turkey burger person so can’t speak from my own experience, but my husband loves Matchbox’s bistro burger. I can give my own hearty endorsement to Good Stuff’s Michelle Melt, though!

    • DCbyDay

      +1 for turkey burgers & the Michelle Melt… although they usually need to lighten up on the sauce.

  • Stories like this are “fluff” or “click bait.” The “best” burger on a list like this is the one with the stuff on it that an individual happens to like. Bleu cheese – pimento – bacon – carmelized onions etc. They are rating a concoction, not an actual burger. Fair enough, I get it, and people clearly have fun with it. But the “best” burger is simply great meat, perfectly cooked. Then load it up as you wish. So my pick is still The Heights – because they have great meat, will cook it rare for me, and top it with whatever I want. Although I have to admit the best burgers ever were from White Castle, a bag devoured while sitting on the curb outside the store in Georgetown after an accidental 60 mile bike ride along the canal.

    • dcd

      I mean, I know opinions vary, but The Heights doesn’t have the best anything, except apparently the marketing department.

    • MadMax

      So, if you read the whole article, the author set a baseline standard for what his burger comparison is (when given options he always chooses American cheese, onions, etc) so that it’s a more even playing field. He actually did go to 330 different places across the country to compile a list. It’s not exhaustive but it’s well beyond “click bait”.

      • Oh come on people – enjoy these silly articles – they’re fun. But a “baseline standard?” With American cheese and onions????? Glad I was not enjoying a delicious burger when I read that or I would have choked and snorted chunks out through my nose. Which is painful.

        • Anonymous

          Fair point. A few people have mentioned a variation of a Bleu cheese burger as their favorite. That would never make my list because I hate Bleu cheese.

    • Bobert

      I know you live right by there, but to echo dcd, they definitely don’t even come close to being “the best” in any category. Though they might be the best place called The Heights in DC?

      • Sure I live right by there. I also live right by the 25+ other restaurants within a 10 minute walk. I eat at most of them, and enjoy most of them. What is your point?

        • Ross

          Don’t you ever cook?

          • Yes actually – a professional chef for 20+ years all around the world, in the first “American Cuisine” (a’la Chez Panisse etc.) restaurants here in DC in the late 80s, also internationally, on yachts. Also 30+ years in catering. So yes – I “cook”. What else would you like to know?

    • Rich

      Lists like these are not necessarily clickbait but usually not based on anything very exhaustive. The sampling of the 8 places was based on reputation from chefs, Citypaper and “industry people”. probably not a bad place to start, but necessarily where you’d finish and lots of places just as good wouldn’t make the list.

      I looked at the top 100 list and he has an ok choice in Pasadena (there are better), a place in Cleveland that has been around for decades–used to be one of my jogging destinations (new location, though) that’s also ok. There’s a NYC place in SOHO that also is ok. My guess is that there aren’t that many real “finds” here.

    • crayons

      Was really hoping the heights would improve with the new ownership, but it’s just a nice looking place that can appeal to the swarms of shoppers who don’t feel like hitting chipotle or cava and don’t know to venture down park or over to 11th. Amazing location/location/location but nothing else is special, and the service is just okay.

    • Anonymous

      Yes! Bring back White Castles!!!

  • jim_ed

    Good Stuff isn’t even the best casual chain burger in DC – that’s Z-Burger. I think commenters nailed the ones he missed – anything from Slash Run and the burger at Matchbox.

    • crayons

      Agreed on Z-Burger. What a great burger!

    • MadMax

      I’ve gotta say I’m happy and impressed that people aren’t on here ranting (for the most part) about Shake Shake’s omission.

  • Carey

    Some of you were in diapers when they were still around, but The Childe Harold used to have an excellent burger.

  • Lauren

    Completely disagree with Duke’s burger being at the top. In my opinion, a great burger should be able to be cooked medium rare (if requested). Duke’s burger is only cooked one way. So, I cannot say this is my favorite burger is in DC by any means. Now, their Mac & Cheese, however…

    • PretzelThirsty

      Duke’s, at least the Counter, cooks them two ways: med rare or well. I think it’s a darn good burger though. You have to make sure to add an egg. Nomville!

  • Bryan

    My personal favorite will always be Rays Hell Burger. Although I have heard the quality has dipped substantially (from best burger to simply good) so I am not sure how truthful this is anymore. I need to try the burgers on this list I haven’t had yet. I am a huge fan of Le Diplomate’s burger.

  • PettyShabazz

    I love the burgers at Annies :)

  • Effie

    Why isn’t Burger Joint in Arlington on this list??!!

  • Donovan McNabb’s failed comeback

    Finally had the Naan Burger at Grand Trunk, which is totally awesome, although it was enough calories for a week.

  • Anonymous

    I had an unexpectedly fantastic burger at Hank’s Cocktail Bar on Upshur St. a few weeks ago It was their Smokehouse Burger. Chef said he was still working on the recipe for the sauce but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.

    • Mahmoud

      What happened to that place? I went a few times when it opened, took a year off, and now the cocktails are legitimately disgusting. Last time I went there was something with banana liquor that got passed around our table in one of those “can you believe how horrible this cocktail is” moments. Slash Run burger x 1000 in that hood.

  • Admiral Yi

    Probably nobody else will agree with this one but I am kind of partial to the burger at Blue Duck Tavern, better than at least 5 on this list. Bourbon Steak has the best by far in the city.

  • Dan K

    I know this isn’t a traditional burger, but the Lamburger at Belga Café on Baracks Row is amazing. I’ve had burgers at most places on this list. For a traditional burger, I have to agree with Bourbon Steak All-American Burger is tops. I’m hungry just writing this post.

  • LMFB

    My two favorite were not on the list: the burger at Central and the burger at the Royal.


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