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

 

insta-lately

instalately // sweetsonian

instalately // sweetsonian

1. Cappuccino for breakfast. Not pictured: the almond croissant that I inhaled before my friend met up with me. Yes, I confessed — but only because she tried to get me to split a chocolate croissant at Dolcezza on 14th Street.

2. Too cool — I finally made it to another Creative Mornings DC event. This time, it was at an amazing space called the Blind Whino, located near the Waterfront metro stop. Imagine a church, covered in graffiti and filled with artwork and awesome people.

3. Abe Lincoln with a plane! I’ve been working on toting my big girl camera around with me more consciously. One night, my friend Matty and I biked down to the mall with our Nikons and worked on some night photos of the monuments. It was beautiful! Hoping to start selling some here.

4. The Instagram community of DC is pretty cool, and they do meet ups every now and then. I managed to make one of them at the Portrait Gallery, here in DC. Here’s a tilted photo from one of the American art exhibits.

5. I’ve been doing a good amount of freelance work for Cava Grill lately, and luckily for me, the work isn’t just about the food. They announced a new location at DCA opening in 2015, so Liz and I headed down to Gravelly Point to take some photos to show off the drastic improvement in airport cuisine.

6. The commute to work, depending on the bus, sometimes leads me past the striking Hirschhorn Museum. Check out its beauty on a cloudless morning.

7. This weekend, I spent a couple of hours at Crafty Bastards, a huuuuge artists’ market hosted at Union Market. I did a photo shoot recently for the incredibly talented (and incredibly lovely) Carolyn of Matine. After shooting her lookbook, I spent about a month pining over this spotted calf hair clutch… and I managed to snare the last one she had. Next up? This scallop clutch will be making its way to my collection in the next few months.

8. It’s knitting season again! Oh, who am I kidding? I knit all summer, because I’m 27 going on 84. Here’s a grocery bag filled with wool from the Dupont farmer’s market. Planning on making a ridiculously chunky circle scarf. I’ll need something to keep my face from freezing off when the bike rides down 15th street take a turn towards frigid.

Weekend scenes

ted's bulletin on 14th st // sweetsonian

art all night // sweetsonian

{ art all night in shaw // shaw public library }

art all night // sweetsonian

{ art all night in shaw // face art }

art all night // sweetsonian

{ art all night in shaw // creepy fish sculpture }

art all night // sweetsonian

{ art all night in shaw // color }

crafty bastards // sweetsonian

{ crafty bastards // ladies at union market }

deer selfie // sweetsonian

{ crafty bastards // april’s #deerselfie }

crafty bastards // sweetsonian

{ crafty bastards // it took, like, 5 minutes to get someone to agree to take this photo for us }

ted's bulletin on 14th st // sweetsonian

{ ted’s bulletin on 14th // burger brunch }

ted's bulletin on 14th st // sweetsonian

{ ted’s bulletin on 14th // menus are newspapers }

ted's bulletin on 14th st // sweetsonian

{ ted’s bulletin on 14th // you beautiful, beautiful burger, you. }

Summer Snapshots

the view from the paddle boats, tidal basin, washington, dc // sweetsonian

beaver damn swimming club 2014 // sweetsonian

{ diana jumping off a rope swing at beaver dam swimming club in maryland }

terrarium at the national botanic museum // sweetsonian

{ a terrarium at the national botanic museum // washington, dc }

hakata classic @ toki underground // sweetsonian

{ hakata classic, ramen from toki underground // washington, dc }

the view from the paddle boats, tidal basin, washington, dc // sweetsonian

{ the view from the paddle boats — we may or may not have smuggled cans of champagne onto our boat }

pop tarts at ted's bulletin on 14th street, washington, dc // sweetsonian

{ the pop tarts // ted’s bulletin on 14th street, washington, dc }

mac and cheese at ted's bulletin on 14th street, washington, dc // sweetsonianpop tarts at ted's bulletin on 14th street, washington, dc // sweetsonian

{ the mac and cheese // ted’s bulletin on 14th street, washington, dc }

the ted's burgh' at ted's bulletin on 14th street, washington, dc // sweetsonianpop tarts at ted's bulletin on 14th street, washington, dc // sweetsonian

{ the ted’s burgh’ // ted’s bulletin on 14th street, washington, dc }

DC Faves: Hank’s Oyster Bar

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

The first time I ever went to Hank’s Oyster Bar was just a few days after I moved into my apartment, which is about 100 feet from Hank’s, we called in a last minute, late night reservation, and pretty much ordered half of the menu for three people. We did collectively drink a few bottles of champagne that night, so I don’t remember much about that first meal (other than every moment of it being delicious), but it set the stage for my regular stop for drinks and sometimes dinner. I love the marble bar in the front room — it serves as a great starting point for date night, since I could continue elsewhere if the date was good, or retreat to my apartment if the date was bad — and the windows in the main room open up when the weather is nice, so it’s more like an open-air restaurant.

Last week, I was having drinks in the upstairs bar, hidden away, and we ordered the squash blossoms as a snack to accompany our whorishly dirty martinis — they were served stuffed with goat cheese, on top of watermelon cubes, arugula, and radishes.

Over the weekend, Rachel came to visit, so we opted for an easy stroll around the corner for a farewell dinner before she flew off to California again (rude). We lucked out with a table on the coveted patio as dusk hit, so I snapped a few photos while I still had an ounce of light. I saw someone walk by with a plate of squash blossoms from just a few days before, and salivated.

Pictured above is Megan’s punch, a light and refreshing alcoholic citrus punch, served in a tea cup. I’d drink 8 billion of those if I had the time, money, and tolerance. And below is the Hanky Panky cocktail, which is a mix of citrus vodka, housemade Limoncello and a splash of sparkling wine.

Overall, it’s one of my favorite casual date spots, whether you’re deciding if it’s worth a third date or you’re meeting a long-time bestie to vent about work drama over martinis. If you can get a seat on the patio on a crisp summer night, well, that’s my favorite. Have your choice of menus here.

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

Some people think it’s weird to order non-seafood at a seafood restaurant, but after years of working at a seafood restaurant, that’s just silly. I settled in with some spectacular molasses-braised shortribs, chilled beets, and fresh coleslaw. Other dishes below.

Fried oyster po’ boy }

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

Thai coconut mussels with coconut milk, ginger, and lobster stock }

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

Sauteéd softshell crab with local vegetables }

hank's oyster bar, dupont // sweetsonian

DC Faves: Union Market

union market // sweetsonian

union market // sweetsonian

One of my favorite spots in DC is Union Market — a perfectly collection of artisan food vendors, ranging from cheese and charcuterie to knife specialty shops to Salt & Sundry, which happens to be my own personal heaven. The market site itself dates back over a hundred years, but Union Market as we know it today opened in 2012. Back then, I happened to be living just three blocks away from it, so I was able to check it out before vendors really started to occupy it. Even then, we knew that the empty tables wouldn’t be empty for long.

I don’t make it out there as often as I would like to these days, but it’s still a great spot for a photo shoot, with its warm interior and long wall of windows. These photos are actually from a Good Food Awards morning event last weekend, so while I struggled from one too many drinks the night before, I had a spicy bloody Mary from Gina Chersevani to nurse me back to life. And, if you’re there in the summer for Crafty Bastards, well, it’s DC’s once-a-year version of Artists & Fleas, and the source of almost all of my jewelry.

Read a bit about my five favorite Union Market spots below. And if you have some favorites, feel free to leave a note in the comments!

union market // sweetsonian

union market // sweetsonian

Takorean — Korean barbeque style tacos; the brick-and-mortar shop for my favorite DC food truck (and one of the few truck-to-shop success stories in DC). My usual order? Three tacos. One bulgogi beef, one chicken, one tofu, all with the romaine slaw, lime crema, and sriracha. To die for.

Buffalo & Bergen — one hell of a bagel. If I’m there in the evening, you’ll find me at the bar with a beer.

Peregrine Espresso — a favorite DC coffee shop. Open counters, so you can see exactly what they’re doing when they make your caffeine order. Very photogenic.

union market // sweetsonian

DC Mediterranean — I used to come here, purchase za’atar, fresh labneh, and homemade pita bread… and, to practice my broken Arabic. It’s so fresh, it brings me back to my days being the adopted child in UCSB’s Lebanese Club, when all of my Lebanese friends would bring giant bags of mana’eesh for me, straight from their mothers’ kitchens. Swoon.

Salt & Sundry — think Anthropologie-style kitchen collections, but all with a personal, artisan, local touch. When I first moved to DC, one of the first food blogs I found was written by Amanda McClements, so naturally, I was smitten when her shop opened. It’s hard for me to leave that store without a new addition to my kitchen, be it a cook book, Guatemalan table linens, or porcelain salt and pepper bowls shaped like skillets.

union market // sweetsonian

union market // sweetsonian

union market // sweetsonian

Around Town: Taan

Taan DC

Being an H Street girl (by way of Dupont), one of the many reasons I fell in love with my neighborhood had to do with a little Taiwanese ramen shop called Toki Underground. It was hip, had good music, and even more amazing food. And before Toki, I didn’t know ramen got much better than dried in an orange bag at 4 AM during finals week.

But… I was wrong.

Taan DC

I checked out Northwest DC’s newest ramen shop with a couple of close friends, one of whom had heard that it opened on the down-low. So we headed over, and for whatever reason, I was under the impression that it was a creation of Toki’s chef, Eric Bruner Yang (I found out on a second trip to Taan that they’re actually direct competitors, which made more sense).

Anyway, everything was phenomenal. We started off with a few cocktails in the upstairs waiting area — I had a vodka cocktail infused with some sort of lavender syrup. Their cocktail menu changes with the seasons, so I’m not sure if they still have the same one.

Taan DC

Taan DC

They have a number of great ramen dishes — I opted for a duck ramen option, though their vegetarian bowl was great too.

Taan DC

Anyway, this isn’t much of a restaurant review, as the post is belated. All in all, it makes a great date restaurant, and is a relatively undiscovered gem in Adams Morgan. I’d go back (and I have). And it isn’t always super busy, though that may change if they start publicizing more.

Continue reading “Around Town: Taan”