Fave Bougie Burgers in DC: Duke’s Grocery

the right proper burger // duke's grocery in washington, dc

The first time I heard about this burger, I was guarding Emily’s bike outside of the Safeway on 17th Street, last summer. She had forgotten her lock, and it was one of those unexpectedly warm days of September, after a cold spell. Emily inherited Joanne, a big cruiser bike — and Joanne has some big hips on her frame. Not judging — but we parked her next to a pretty nice 80s-ish road bike… the kind that super attractive hipsters who live in Bloomingdale ride. I was secretly wishing I had Barbie, my own 80s racing bike that was resting in my bedroom just a block away. You know, because when your imagination runs off, it sprints — to having a conversation with a handsome stranger about each other’s bikes, which would obviously lead to a long and happy life together. Or maybe a few weeks. Dating in real life seems so far fetched these days, but stranger things have happened to me.

Sure enough, while Emily was shopping, a super attractive hipster man with a super attractive beard strolled out of Safeway, and struck up a conversation with me about the weather and this wonderful, super attractive day. Somehow, we got on the topic of best burgers in DC — his idea, not mine. I was still starstruck by the fact that he wanted to talk to me.

His plan was to have a leisurely, breezy bike ride to Duke’s Grocery from Bloomingdale (I was right!), but the summer heat had him sweating bullets. Or maybe it was my California cool attitude. Anyway, at the time, I was very loyal to Le Diplomate’s burger… but mystery man stood by the burger at Duke’s Grocery.

So naturally, the next weekend, Shaeda and I had to swing by to see what all the fuss was about. And oh, what a fuss.

I’ll preface this entire story by the fact that we went to Duke’s Grocery on a rainy Saturday morning, and had to go again 24 hours later. No joke. The burger was that good.

the right proper burger // duke's grocery in washington, dc

We started with the Pimm’s Cups, which is my favorite light-hearted cocktail at any hour of the day. Duke’s Grocery is bright and airy inside, with an industrial Edison bulb chandelier. There’s an upstairs, but we managed to snag a couple of arm chairs on the first floor.

The burger is perfect, really. Pictured is the Brunchy burger — the menu changes regularly, but there’s always an epic burger variation on there — a double patty topped with edam cheese, house pickles, charred red onion, mayo, and arugula. We added a fried egg, because… obviously.

the right proper burger // duke's grocery in washington, dc

the right proper burger // duke's grocery in washington, dc

If you make it there on a weekend during brunch hours, be prepared to wait for your table, and to wait for your burger. It’s a tiny kitchen, and they get backed up with orders. But have a few drinks, and know that it’s worth it.

Duke’s Grocery
1513 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20036