Adventures in Gustatory Bucket Listing: Palena's Cheeseburger

One that can't be missed

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.

Adventures In Gustatory Bucket Listing: Palena’s Cheeseburger was originally published by Washington City Paper on April 25, 2012.

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