Young and Hungry

Adventures In Gustatory Bucket Listing: Palena’s Cheeseburger

OK, what hasn't already been written about James Beard Award-winning chef Frank Ruta's elegantly crafted cheeseburger at Palena? Not much.

Post critic Tom Sietsema crowned it "the best in the capital." Food & Wine ranked it among the "Best Burgers in the U.S." Even New York-centric food blogger Ed Levine scored it higher than its Brooklyn equivalent—no small feat indeed.

Not to be outdone, the beef geeks at Burger Days delved into the nitty gritty of Ruta's hallowed seven-ounce Angus patty, offering details on the fat ratio (generally, 60/40), plus specs on the fancy truffled cheese (Sottocenere al Tartufo) and “garlic scented mayonnaise” (made with eggs, egg whites, and grapeseed oil, with touches of olive oil, garlic, mustard, lemon juice and champagne vinegar).

So what's left to say about the juice-dripping, funk-forward hunk of ground chuck and steak trimmings ($13) served so nicely charred atop lightly toasted brioche at Ruta's place in Cleveland Park? Just this: When friends have asked about my gustatory bucket list, now that my days as Y&H grow shorter by the meal, this sucker shoots right to the top.

What local eats would make up your last meals in D.C.? Stick your final requests in the comments.

Photo by Chris Shott

  • Melissa

    1) Your own oyster riot at Old Ebbitt. The crowd is so different at the oyster bar at Grand Central (and the million other places in New York).

    2) Lickety Split at Eve. Build in a post-lunch nap.

    3)After hours at Cashion's on the weekend

    4)An Adam cocktail or the Philly cheese steak from Proof at lunch (is it still on the menu?)

    These are the things I miss most, though there are many more.

  • NovaNicole

    “Writing for Washington City Paper is the best gig in D.C. I know,”

    Talk about damning with faint praise!!

  • Chris Shott


    The punctuation on that quote is unfortunately misleading.

    It should have read more like this:

    "Writing for Washington City Paper is the best gig in D.C.," Shott says. "I know. I've worked here, like, five times now."

    The periods on D.C., I think, skewed things in translation.

  • CookInDineOut

    I love the Palena cheeseburger. It won my recent D.C. Burger Madness contest. If I was leaving D.C., I think it would be a contender for my last days bucket list. Here's some more, in no particularly order (except #1 is definitely #1):

    1) Original Chicago Combo pizza, Armand's
    2) truffle fries, Poste
    3) Bacon-date fritters, Jaleo
    4) Guacamole, Oyamel (uh-oh, two Jose Andres mentions)
    5) Fajitas and margaritas, Guapos
    6) Pattison Avenue, Taylor Gourmet
    7) Kung pao chicken, Meiwah
    8) Cold mezze platter, Levante
    9) Garlic bread, Buca di Beppo
    10) and yeah, the Palena cheeseburger

  • CookInDineOut

    I left what I thought was a thoughtful comment on this story, and I see it's been deleted. Did it somehow violate your policy? What did I do wrong?

  • Chris Shott

    Dear CookInDineOut,

    You did nothing wrong. (Believe it or not, multiple Jose Andres mentions does not violate our decency standards.) Your comment was just awaiting my approval; the system sometimes does that. Apologies for the snafu. Thank you for the recommendations.


  • Las vegas restaurants

    It is the Adventures In Gustatory Bucket restaurants ,here they preparing the amazing foods. this restaurant is providing local food.