Authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks, burgers, sandwiches and salads await at Shaw’s Ghostburger (1250 9th St NW). Originally created as a pop-up restaurant “ghost kitchen” during the pandemic, owner Josh Phillips said the restaurant is rooted in Philadelphia’s food culture, with a Mexican flare.
Ghostburger replaced Espita, the Mexican restaurant owned by Phillips and his wife, Kelly. The couple still owns two other Mexican restaurants in the La Cocheza Latin food hall in the Union Market District: Taqueria Las Gemelas and Destino (1280 4th St NE).
“A lot of the ingredients on the menu actually were harvested from Espita,” Phillips said. “A lot of the prep that we used for the old restaurant found its way into Ghostburger’s menu, like the cheese sauce on our cheesesteak; that was originally a cheese sauce that we designed for our nachos.”
The whole Ghostburger team is from Philadelphia, and authenticity, Phillips said, is at the heart of their concept. They import their rolls from a bakery in South Philadelphia and source all of their meat from their favorite butcher in southern New Jersey. One of their chefs worked in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market.
“All those little touches are authentic,” Phillips said. “I think that’s what separates getting a cheesesteak at Ghostburger versus anywhere else in the District.”
Phillips said despite having run a restaurant in Shaw, the opening of Ghostburger introduced him to many of his neighbors.
“It’s really fun,” Phillips said. “The brand is fun, the food’s fantastic and people really connect with it. I also think that it connects to the neighborhood better. After opening Ghostburger, I’ve met a lot more of my neighbors I just hadn’t met before. Shaw is a very, very diverse part of DC, which I just think is cool,” Phillips said. “You’ve just got this really good mix of people. I think Shaw just has this good culinary community.”
But recently, a VIP phone order for pickup came from a destination outside the neighborhood: the White House. President Joe Biden personally called in an order for lunch for Vice President Kamala Harris and himself.
In addition to a number of burger varieties and other sandwiches on the menu, like La Hamburguesas, The Frenchie, Shroomsteak and Sausage and Peppers, Ghostburger is introducing Build Your Own Burger, with a wide range of ingredients. “I ran the spreadsheet, and there are six billion different possible combinations,” Phillips said.
Ghostburger is open Monday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with happy hour daily, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Their full menu is also available for pickup or delivery. Visit www.ghostburgerdc.com for details.
Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.