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Best Burgers in Washington, DC

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Ten years ago, metro area residents really only had two options for a burger on the go: McDonald’s or Roy Roger’s. Thankfully, in the intervening years, a small cadre of local entrepreneurs have taken the cheeseburger out of the fast food ghetto. With BBQ weather back in full effect, check out DC’s top contenders for most salivating 8-ounce treat:

The Good Stuff Eatery delivers the goods.
The Good Stuff Eatery delivers the goods.

5. Matchbox
This Chinatown bistro made its name on artful (read: pricey) reinterpretations of old standards: pizza, fried chicken and steak and fries. Their sole choice of cheeseburger, however, is a standout with Gorgonzola, cremini mushrooms, bacon and onion rings stacked high on brioche bun. For a double dose of beef-on-beef gluttony, give their “3.6.9 mini-burgers” a shot before the main course arrives.

Chinatown:713 H St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20001; (202) 289-4441
Capitol Hill: 521 8th St., SE, Washington, DC 20003; (202) 548-0369

4. Z Burger
Consider this spot (now with two locations: Tenelytown and Glover Park) the antithesis of the “gourmet burger chic” in play elsewhere on this list. With options that only go as in-depth as “double” or “with bacon,” Z Burger is a direct descendant of the no frills, greasy griddle tradition. Fifty types of milkshakes round the retro diner atmosphere.

Tenleytown: 4321 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016; (202) 966-1999
Glover Park: 2414 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007; (202) 965-7777

3. Good Stuff Eatery
There’s not one, not two, but eleven types of burgers are on the menu at this Capitol Hill destination. With everything from the standard patty-on-a-bun up to head turning toppers like pickled Japanese radish and Thai basil, you’d be hard pressed to find a wider variety of artery-clogging goodness anywhere else in the DC area. Salads are offered, but scarce – making this a stopover for die-hards only.

303 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20003; (202) 543-8222

2. Ray’s Hell Burger
Here’s the one that brought a gourmet’s eye to the paper plate dining scene. With no advertising and menu that consists of a single item, Ray’s has gone on to become an Arlington institution in the year since its opening. Choice of cheese and marinade falls to the customer, but the beef blend is so high-end that the toppings scarcely matter. Points lost, however, for the lack of French fries – a detail that our next entry tackles with finesse.

1713 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22209; (703) 841-0001

1. The Burger Joint
If one wasn’t prone to dropping fifteen bucks on the average trip to Bethesda’s Burger Joint, it would be a sure bet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. What Excalibur did for swords, the Burger Joint does for beef patties. For all the wider palates out, there’s several alternative options, including a Greek-style lamb burger and even an East Coast approximation of a New England lobster roll. Even the fries can be upgraded with whole cloves of roasted garlic or fresh sprigs of rosemary. You may like your burger rare, but even the harshest of critics must concede that this place is well-done.

4827 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814; (301) 358-6137