A Bugatti Veyron is wasted with a set of bald tires. The same goes for a burger, where even the most flavorful beef patty suffers between two halves of dented kaiser. No such concerns exist with Palena‘s house-baked bun. Although the stout, lightly sesamed offering looks like a brioche, James Beard Award-winning chef Frank Ruta says it’s closer to a Parker House roll, exhibiting a crisp, brittle exterior with a mildly sweet, buttery flavor inside. The delicate bark seals in juices that escape Palena’s endlessly lauded cheeseburger ($14), topped with a single slice of truffled cheese, mayonnaise and served with a side of pickled vegetables. Order it at brunch for the optional addition of a duck egg.
Palena, 3529 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-537-9250.