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They've Got Weird Buns And They Cannot Lie

Beyond brioche.

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At its core, a traditional burger is but a ground meat patty encased between two halves of a sliced bun. But what kind of bun is best?

Chefs aplenty go with brioche, known for its buttery texture. Kaiser, ciabatta, and soft hamburger-specific rolls, either with or without seeds, are popular burger-bearers as well. Many restaurants, though, venture from these standard buns in favor of a carb that's, in some cases, drastically different (or in other cases, a subtle departure). Here are ten eateries around the D.C. area with an atypical bun sandwiching their burgers.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Ambar Balkan Cuisine

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523 8th St SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 813-3039
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Featuring Balkan cuisine, it’s no surprise that this Capitol Hill spot’s burger skews Balkan as well. The meat itself is a combination of pork and beef, and Chef Ivan Zivkovic uses a secret recipe from his grandmother to incorporate spicy Urnebes spread and red bell peppers marinated in fresh yogurt to the patty. But the bread is especially unique — a fluffy, soft Mediterranean flatbread called Somun bread made in-house and whose recipe goes back centuries.

2. Big Buns

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4401 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22203
(703) 276-3032
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Spoiler alert: the buns here are large. Though not different in ingredients persee, it’s hard not to call out a burger joint whose name and main differentiator is the size of its buns. Whether the bun is whole wheat, gluten-free or original, Sir Mix-A-Lot himself would be satisfied.

3. Bistro Bohem

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600 Florida Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 506-0019
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In the U Street area of the city, this bistro’s burger has a Czech flair courtesy of the Pilsner beer in which the beef is marinated, and it comes served on a pretzel roll, making for a beer haus experience on one plate.

4. Degrees Bistro

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3100 South St NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
(202) 912-4100
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Within Georgetown’s Ritz-Carlton, the Degrees lounge is using bound and lightly seared ramen noodles as the basis for the buns on sliders for diners. The menu item debuted a year and a half ago when there was a bit of a ramen-as-bun craze throughout the nation.

5. Georgetown Bagelry

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5227 River Rd
Bethesda, MD 20816
(301) 657-4442
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A burger on a bagel? Georgetown Bagelry is on it.

6. Grand Trunk

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641 Indiana Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

In this fast-casual Indian fusion joint, along with tikka masala and dal, there’s a naan burger on — what else — naan to contain the beef patty that’s been marinated with ginger, cumin, chilies, onions and cilantro.

7. Lindy's Red Lion

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2040 I St NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
(202) 452-0055
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The iconic D.C. pub near George Washington University serves up its double burgers, not on standard hamburger buns but on six-inch sub rolls. No one seems to be complaining. [Photo: Russ P./Foursquare]

8. Panda Gourmet

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2700 New York Ave NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 636-3588
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One of D.C.’s hidden gems for Sichuan spiced Chinese dishes also has a burger on the menu, which is advertised as a “cumin beef Chinese burger” and comes on a house-made bun that has a consistency more like a pita or English muffin than standard burger roll.

9. Ted's Bulletin

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1818 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 265-8337
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Ted’s has a whole menu of burger varieties, with guests able to select between beef, chicken breast or veggie. Two of the selections also come with special bun offerings: the Ted’s ‘Burgh (fried egg, coleslaw and American cheese) on toasted white bread and the Tzatziki Greek (feta, tzatziki sauce, pepperoncini) on grilled naan. Multiple locations.

10. Thunder Burger & Bar

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3056 M St NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
(202) 333-2888
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All of the many 8 oz. burgers -- which have meats from elk to boar to kobe beef -- come piled high on, of all things, a toasted challah bun. L’chaim.

1. Ambar Balkan Cuisine

523 8th St SE, Washington, D.C. 20003

Featuring Balkan cuisine, it’s no surprise that this Capitol Hill spot’s burger skews Balkan as well. The meat itself is a combination of pork and beef, and Chef Ivan Zivkovic uses a secret recipe from his grandmother to incorporate spicy Urnebes spread and red bell peppers marinated in fresh yogurt to the patty. But the bread is especially unique — a fluffy, soft Mediterranean flatbread called Somun bread made in-house and whose recipe goes back centuries.

523 8th St SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

2. Big Buns

4401 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203

Spoiler alert: the buns here are large. Though not different in ingredients persee, it’s hard not to call out a burger joint whose name and main differentiator is the size of its buns. Whether the bun is whole wheat, gluten-free or original, Sir Mix-A-Lot himself would be satisfied.

4401 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22203

3. Bistro Bohem

600 Florida Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

In the U Street area of the city, this bistro’s burger has a Czech flair courtesy of the Pilsner beer in which the beef is marinated, and it comes served on a pretzel roll, making for a beer haus experience on one plate.

600 Florida Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

4. Degrees Bistro

3100 South St NW, Washington, D.C. 20007

Within Georgetown’s Ritz-Carlton, the Degrees lounge is using bound and lightly seared ramen noodles as the basis for the buns on sliders for diners. The menu item debuted a year and a half ago when there was a bit of a ramen-as-bun craze throughout the nation.

3100 South St NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

5. Georgetown Bagelry

5227 River Rd, Bethesda, MD 20816

A burger on a bagel? Georgetown Bagelry is on it.

5227 River Rd
Bethesda, MD 20816

6. Grand Trunk

641 Indiana Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

In this fast-casual Indian fusion joint, along with tikka masala and dal, there’s a naan burger on — what else — naan to contain the beef patty that’s been marinated with ginger, cumin, chilies, onions and cilantro.

641 Indiana Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

7. Lindy's Red Lion

2040 I St NW, Washington, D.C. 20006

The iconic D.C. pub near George Washington University serves up its double burgers, not on standard hamburger buns but on six-inch sub rolls. No one seems to be complaining. [Photo: Russ P./Foursquare]

2040 I St NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

8. Panda Gourmet

2700 New York Ave NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

One of D.C.’s hidden gems for Sichuan spiced Chinese dishes also has a burger on the menu, which is advertised as a “cumin beef Chinese burger” and comes on a house-made bun that has a consistency more like a pita or English muffin than standard burger roll.

2700 New York Ave NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

9. Ted's Bulletin

1818 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

Ted’s has a whole menu of burger varieties, with guests able to select between beef, chicken breast or veggie. Two of the selections also come with special bun offerings: the Ted’s ‘Burgh (fried egg, coleslaw and American cheese) on toasted white bread and the Tzatziki Greek (feta, tzatziki sauce, pepperoncini) on grilled naan. Multiple locations.

1818 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

10. Thunder Burger & Bar

3056 M St NW, Washington, D.C. 20007

All of the many 8 oz. burgers -- which have meats from elk to boar to kobe beef -- come piled high on, of all things, a toasted challah bun. L’chaim.

3056 M St NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

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