Palena - burger time

At our first visit in the summer we had three goals: eat the burger, eat the fries, and eat the chicken. We got the second two but unfortunately they were OUT of the burger! Out of it! Obviously this added to its intrigue.

The bun on the Palena burger was a brioche monstrosity. The thing dwarfed the meat--the real show, it should have been--and honestly it was difficult to take a bite! I love thick bread that has a crunch to the outside as much as the next person, but not necessarily surrounding a burger or sandwich. Otherwise it's more like a bread sandwich with a little meat inside.

So if you want to experience the best of Palena, then head to the cafe, order the half a roasted chicken (and all it's lemony garlicky fall-apart-tender goodness) and the fry plate (soft and creamy dauphines, regulars, onion rings, and of course the lemon slices), and call it a day. Then curl up on the couch and take a nap.

Maybe I was there on an off night. Maybe I have unreasonable burger standards! Or maybe I've been spoiled rotten by Ray's Hell-Burger and their enormous, meat-heavy skinny-breaded, perfectly-cooked masterpieces.

3529 Connecticut Avenue
Metro: Red Line to Cleveland Park
Palena on Urbanspoon


  1. No, Palena and the burger are overrated. I ate there 4 times because people kept telling me they heard it had great food, but it pales in comparison to other top DC places, like Central, Citronelle, Cityzen, etc. The burger was definitely not great -- mine was dry, bland, and the bread was too much. Personally, for a better gourmet burger, I'd stick to the rosemary heavy Central burger.

  2. I disagree, maybe not completely...certain aspects are overrated. But in the case of the burger, I find it the perfect bun to meat ratio...just enough to sop up the juices, (ours were perfectly medium rare juicieness). Ray's was disappointing...too much dry meat, dried out crumbly bun. Cityzen is ethereal..but $55 dollar versus, say, $25 or so at the bar of each...what would you expect?

  3. Maybe Palena is inconsistent then, but that's a crime in itself. The buns were so big we could barely take a normal bite or taste the burger.

    I always order my burger at Ray's "recommended," which is probably between medium-rare and medium, and it's never been dry.

  4. If I may say, the one thing Palena is not is inconsistent. It may not be to your liking, inconsistent it is not. I can not speak to the burger specifically, as I think sandwiches are not a proper dinner meal. My selections are commendably the same time and time again. No rare feat for a diner that has gone numerous times and revels in the comfort of familiar tastes.

  5. I think the chicken is divine, so I'll stick to that.

    Sandwiches are dinner. Most of them have enough calories to be two dinners, actually.