Chef Alex McCoy knows his way around a burger. So his latest burger-centric venture, Lucky Buns, was sure to be no different. I gathered a group of friends on a Saturday by promising them one of the best burgers in D.C. After hearing their protests (“but Duke’s!”) I had to inform them that McCoy comes from Duke’s, then Alfie’s so his pedigree is strong.
As we waited for a table (no reservations here) we grabbed a round of drinks at the bar. The Blood of Merry is a very good Bloody Mary with vodka and amateur miXXX. It had that ideal velvety tomato juice texture without skimping on spice. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the rotating sour beer on tap. I find that sours often pair perfectly with brunch dishes – the tart with the sweet.
Our favorite by far was the San Miguel Bloom Shandy. Made with San Miguel pilsner, hibiscus ginger, lime and fancy straw to boot, I daresay it’s the perfect brunch cocktail. Light, refreshing, and as boozy as you want it.
Lucky Buns is housed in the tiny bar that was the old L’Enfant Cafe space on 18th street. Decor is kitschy (the Eiffel Tower remains!) and comfortable. We had a party of five (I can’t help it if I’m popular) which was tough for them to accommodate quickly. That’s twice that I’ve been there (with smaller parties) and they’ve failed to quote us an accurate wait time. Everyone was very nice and helpful once we sat down, however.
That said, we definitely recommend sitting on the large patio with picnic tables if the weather allows. It’s pup-friendly, and good for people-watching during warmer months.
On to brunch. The brunch menu at Lucky Buns is not unlike it’s dinner menu — heavy on burgers and chicken sandwiches — but adds two special brunch-specific entrees.
The Bacon Sarnie was one of them. It’s a breakfast sandwich filled with bacon rashers, brown sauce, and griddled tomato on sourdough. I’m glad that I ordered a runny egg on it, as the tomato went missing. The sandwich was filling and messy but not particularly memorable. Next time, I’d skip this particular brunch offering in lieu of a classic burger.
The Dirty Bird was my personal favorite. This juicy chicken thigh, perfectly fried, is piled high on a bun with white onion, pickles, lucky sauce, shark sriracha, and iceberg lettuce. As is common with all these entrees, it was messy and delicious.
If you want a chicken sandwich with more of a kick, try the Hot Tiger Bun. This spicy fried chicken thigh has smothered with Sichuan peppercorn spice paste, pickles, onion, mayo, and Chinese yellow mustard. It was crispy and just spicy enough so as to not be overwhelming.
The Alfie’s bun is an ideal brunch burger. The thick Creekstone patty is topped with gouda, a runny egg, pineapple, pickled beet root, arugula, lucky sauce, and grilled red onion. We ordered a double patty and it almost too big to eat. Our one complaint was that we ordered it medium rare and it came out closer to medium.
Finally we tried the vegetarian-friendly Crunchy Bun: a lentil mushroom veggie patty, gouda, grilled onion, lucky sauce, arugula, acar pickles. Buttered, seeded bun was a good canvas for this high-texture sando.
The table shared orders of proper chips and curry chips. In the English-style, they were thick steak fries with a delicious malt vinegar mayo, or smothered in a fragrant brown curry. Curry fries felt a little out of place, but make more sense within context. The malt vinegar mayo was stellar.
The Bitches say: Four Champagne flutes. Lucky Buns offers another casual, affordable burger joint for people to flock to. Definitely hit up the patio if you can and order the San Miguel Bloom Shandy.
Lucky Buns serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m – 3 p.m.