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Tasty Burgers Can Fit The Intern Budget

In the past two years, D.C. has gone through a burger craze. There was a time when Five Guys, which opened in 1986, was the only game in town, but these days eateries specializing in beef, fries and all the trimmings pepper this city.

While a burger may not be the healthiest dining option, it is certainly one of the most cost-efficient. Thus, it’s an ideal meal for the unpaid intern. Here are some of the best burgers around town.

• Two years ago, after a stint on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” Spike Mendelsohn relocated to Capitol Hill from New York City. He quickly opened Good Stuff Eatery (303 Pennsylvania Ave.) a few short blocks from the Dome. This is the place to go if you are looking for a traditional burger with a little more flair than usual. The restaurant serves a dozen burgers, priced from $5.49 to $7.69 and topped with everything from avocado to chili to pickled daikon. Turkey burgers and portobello mushroom burgers are also on the menu for the health-conscious diner.

Some of the more creative offerings include Spike’s 5 Napkin Burger and Colletti’s Smokehouse Burger, named for general manager Mike Colletti. The 5 Napkin is a greasy, delicious mess to eat, featuring smoked bacon, a fried egg, cheese and Good Stuff sauce. The Smokehouse, while not as messy, is just as tasty. The burger is piled high with cheddar cheese, fried onion rings and barbecue sauce.

• While Good Stuff Eatery may be convenient for House staffers, it can be a bit of a trek for those on the Senate side. But never fear: Billy Goat Tavern (500 New Jersey Ave. NW) is only a stone’s throw away from the West Front. This small restaurant beats the competition when it comes to pricing. A cheeseburger will set you back a mere $3.25.

This eatery also specializes in grilled cheese and breakfast sandwiches, not to mention cheap pitchers of beer. The Billy Goat not only features great grub, but it also provides ample outdoor seating, making it the perfect spot to get some fresh air after a long day at the office.

• Five Guys is a D.C. staple. With locations all over the city — the Chinatown (808 H St. NW) and Navy Yard (1100 New Jersey Ave. SE) locations are convenient to the Hill — this is the original Washington burger joint. Five Guys serves only burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese and fries. In other words, the perfect combination to cure a hangover. A “little burger” — which consists of one patty instead of the usual two — costs $3.40, while a hot dog is $3.29. A major perk of going to Five Guys: The toppings are free.

• The Burger Joint (1514 Connecticut Ave. NW) offers some of the more creative burgers in town. With locations all over the metropolitan area, this restaurant serves nearly a dozen burgers — some less conventional than others — starting at $6.99.

While the standard burger is on the menu, so is the ahi tuna burger, which consists of sushi-grade tuna, pineapple, pickled ginger, teriyaki sauce and special mojo sauce. The Burger Joint also offers three different types of fries, along with shakes, beer and wine.

• If you’re willing to travel a little bit farther and cross the river into Arlington, Va., head to Ray’s Hell Burger (1713 Wilson Blvd.). This offshoot of Michael Landrum’s Ray’s restaurant group offers the best burger in town. Burgers start at $6.95 and are accompanied by watermelon and other fun side dishes.

The specialty burgers have fun names like Let’s Get It On — a beef patty piled high with bacon, Swiss and cheddar cheese, mushrooms, grilled onions, peppers, roasted garlic, lettuce and tomato — and the B.I.G. Poppa, which consists of a pepper-crusted burger smothered in blue cheese, mushrooms and grilled red onions. The burgers here are juicy, and the quality of the meat is head and shoulders above the competition. Come hungry: The burgers are enormous.

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