Burger City Guides: Adam Sobel's Favorite Burgers in Washington, D.C.

Top 5

Lists of top 5 burgers.

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Bourbon Steak's burger [Photograph: Brian Oh]


[Photograph: courtesy of Adam Sobel]

As executive chef of Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak in Georgetown, Adam Sobel is responsible for no less than five burgers on the menu. Interestingly, only one of those involves beef, but boy, is it a beef burger (think brisket, short rib, and chuck, blended and cooked over a wood fire, then brushed with red wine butter). It's the burger that Forbes Travel Guide called one of the country's best. Adam likes the importance the city's chefs place on the American standard: "Everyone in D.C. strives to have a great burger," he says. Read on for his five favorite burgers in the capital.

1. Palena's cheeseburger is delicious. What they're doing is really outstanding: amazing freshly ground beef, great buns that they make in-house. I like it because it's kind of unassuming. They do lots of great pasta and fish, so their burger is a really pleasant surprise. It's one of the best in D.C.
3529 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20008 (map); 202-537-9250; palenarestaurant.com


Good Stuff Eatery [Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

2. Spike Mendelssohn's Good Stuff Eatery does five different burgers or so. I usually switch it up when I go. At one point, he was doing a blue cheese and caramelized onion burger, but I don't know if he still is because he likes to shake things up. The Big Stuff Bacon Meltdown kills it: it's a double bacon cheeseburger. I'm a big fan of what he's doing there.
303 Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast, Washington, DC 20003 (map); 202-543-8222; goodstuffeatery.com

3. The lamb burger at Central is really good. It's served with tomato confit and crispy Parmesan. Michel Richard is known for fine dining, but Central is kind of his bistro.
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20004 (map); 202-626-0015; centralmichelrichard.com


Double Shack Burger [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

4. I know it's kinda common, but I really like Shake Shack. It's open late and within walking distance. When I need an In-N-Out-like fix, I can hit them up for a double cheeseburger and a chocolate cement.
Various locations; shakeshack.com

5. Lou's City Bar is across the street from my house, and they do a killer, basic, NYC bar-type burger. It's a really good patty grilled over charcoal, with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. It's a no-brainer for sporting events: go over to Lou's, watch the game, perfect. They've got a great selection of beers on tap that they change up monthly. I like to drink local, so sometimes I'll do a DC Brau or something from Virginia.
1400 Irving Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20010 (map); 202-518-5687; louscitybar.com