Some of my favorite burgers are at fine-dining restaurants. But come summer, the best way to enjoy beef between buns is with an arm-dripping, greasy patty at a casual haunt that does little else. These are my favorite places to grab a burger, along with details on precisely what to order.
Order: The Forager Burger, which stays true to its name with mushrooms and pickled ramps. Brie and tomato jam combine to add a funky sweetness. But the 6-ounce flame-grilled patty, supplied by Capital Meat Company, is the star.
With a side of: Truffle-cheese potato crisps, like skinny fries made earthy with truffle oil and Parmesan—they contribute a sophisticated edge. 13047 Worldgate Dr., Herndon
Order: The Champ, for diners who need a little extra beef. It comes in the form of sliced brisket from Holy Cow’s sister restaurant, Pork Barrel BBQ. Fried pickle spears add a crispy élan to the sweet bourbon glaze.
With a side of: Salty waffle-cut sweet potato fries with marshmallow dipping sauce. Do I like it? I can’t decide, but I also can’t stop eating them. 2312 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria
Order: The locavore Red Apron Original, always butcher-fresh because the double patties travel only a few feet from case to kitchen. The lovably fatty flesh is enhanced with American cheese, housemade pickles, and Thousand Island dressing, as well as crunchy vegetables.
With a side of: The included crispy beef-fat fries, some of the best in NoVA. Garlic confit and rosemary only abbreviate their existence on your plate. 8298 Glass Aly., Fairfax
Order: Certified Master Chef Rich Rosendale’s signature Roots 675 Cheeseburger, which starts with two dry-aged patties from Maryland’s Roseda Farm. Cheddar cheese, a fried egg, and plenty of bacon make this the most flavorful brunch burger around.
With a side of: Corn pudding. No, really—the creamy scoop of carbs is even more appealing than crisp fries. 42301 Spinks Ferry Rd., Leesburg
Order: The dry-aged local patties—plain by default, so it’s up to the diner’s own creativity to go beyond basic cheeseburgers, doubles, or meatless options. But choices like bacon jam, pork belly, and avocado handily do the job.
With a side of: Red Thai curry mayo, which is garlicky and breathes a hint of fire onto anything it touches, from burgers to skin-on fries. 350 Maple Ave. W., Vienna