Cheap Eats 2014 - Best Burgers

Cheap Eats 2014 - Best Burgers

Photo of Washingtonian Magazine

For some, summer is known as bikini season. We prefer to think of it as barbecue season—and burger season, too.

25 Places
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    The peanut butter, on both sides of the puffy bun, is subtle—it’s really all about the sugary tomato jam, applewood bacon, and ultra-juicy medium-rare patty. Salty, smoky, sweet—what’s not to like?
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    This local, miniaturized knockoff ($12) boasts a similar bun fashioned from ramen noodles and browned on top for texture, but we wouldn't queue up for it.
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    Would we eat it every week, arteries be damned? No—the Tune Inn Burger, with its crisp onion straws, delivers more satisfying crunch. But as far as novelty burgers go, it’s tasty.
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    We’re partial to this smart Southwestern spin, which cloaks the beef in an unexpectedly sophisticated queso and adds heat and crunch with green chilies and pickled red onions.
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    The dry-aged patty is grilled, then laden with sautéed mushrooms and onions, plus loads of blue cheese. It’s probably the most elegant thing you’ll ever eat while surrounded by Journey album covers.
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    The common curse of sliders—dryness—is banished by the nutty fat, while garlicky aïoli and piquillo peppers enrich each bite. ($7)
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    Two Creekstone Farms beef patties—thick enough for medium-rare—make for a mouthful, smothered in a sweet-tangy mix of melted Gouda, chili sauce, aïoli, house pickles, and arugula. ($12)
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    The luxe patty is made of house-ground duck—leg, skin, and breast—then topped not with cheese but with a melting slab of pepper-cured foie gras and set on an olive-oil brioche bun.
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    Few burgers do high/low as well as Nathan Anda’s ($10). Shredded lettuce, Thousand Island–like sauce, and a blanket of cheddar recall our favorite short-order creations, but there’s nothing budget about the ingredients.
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    The black-bean-and-rice patty gets its hue—and flavor—from beets and chopped prunes, and the slight sweetness is an excellent foil for the toppings: lettuce, pickles, jack cheese, yellow mustard, and mayo.
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    Union Market’s lone full-service restaurant has endured an uneven opening, but one thing it has nailed is this retro classic. Wisely, chef John Mooney has elected not to gussy the sandwich up beyond recognition.
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    You’ll taste flavors of both between the deep-fried shrimp patty and the brioche bun swiped with spicy sambal mayo and layered with bright veggies and cilantro.
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