That was fast! Just one month after L’Enfant Cafe & Bar ladled its last onion soup a fresh-faced restaurateur claimed the coveted corner space in Adams Morgan. And it’s good news for burger fans. Chef Alex McCoy will open Lucky Buns by the middle of October at 2000 18th St. NW.
“Burgers are my top ten favorite food group of all time,” McCoy says, adding that he’s wanted to do a full-on burger restaurant for a long time. But don’t expect something all-American from the globe-trotting chef who travels the world more than Carmen Sandiego.
“Whether I’m in Bangkok, South America, or London, I have to find the best burger shops,” he says. “Americans have this idea that we are the center of the burger universe, that we created it, but the reality is there are so many cultures that have a thriving, exceptional burger culture all their own.”
The Lucky Buns menu will consist of burgers with global inspiration. The Bogan Burger, for example is a take on a bacon cheeseburger and incorporates a bacon XO jam boosted by Cantonese five spice. (XO is a traditional Chinese sauce.) “It’s a really deep, rich umami bomb with a ton of flavor from fried onions, fried garlic, and a little bit of soy sauce,” McCoy says. It’s a hat tip to his favorite patty at Burger Bear in East London. He’ll also serve an Aussie Burger with egg, beetroot, and pineapple.
Fried chicken will be on the menu in various forms, including a Japanese-style “katsu sando” and Nashville hot chicken with a twist in the form of a Szechuan peppercorn sauce, Chinese mustard, and house-made pickles. McCoy earned his fried chicken chops as a consulting chef at CRISP Kitchen + Bar in Bloomingdale and BRD in Baltimore. Sandwiches will come with thick-cut, British-style chips.
McCoy’s longtime beverage partner Fabian Malone will handle the drinks, which will be punch-heavy. “I want to keep it affordable,” McCoy says. “I hate pretentious restaurants, uppity experiences. Just come in have a burger and a punch or a beer and relax.”
Live music will also be a regular feature at the restaurant hoping to open between late September and early October.
Lucky Buns was one of the pop-ups that rotated through McCoy’s testing ground in Park View over the past couple of years. What started out as a Thai ex-pat concept called Alfie’s evolved into New Orleans sandwich shop Tchoup’s Market, a crab shack, and more. “The whole goal of doing the pop-ups was testing all the ideas to find out what we needed to do down the road,” he says. “Now we’re executing our plan of opening brick and mortars for the concepts we really liked.”
McCoy’s long run at 3301 Georgia Ave. NW is up and he expects another restaurateur to move into the space. But Lucky Buns isn’t his only project. He’s preparing to open a British-style sandwich shop on Upshur Street in Petworth that should take 10 to 12 more months to build out. And he’s still looking for the perfect space for the restaurant that’s closest to his heart—Alfie’s. The kitchen space at the former L’Enfant Cafe & Bar wasn’t adequate enough to crank out Thai curries and house-made noodles.
Lucky Buns will be open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. In a few weeks they’ll open at 11 a.m. on weekends, and they plan to serve lunch eventually.
Lucky Buns, 2000 18th St. NW, luckybunsdc.com