For a long time, I had a very quick and confident answer to this query: LUCKY DEVIL'S on Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood. No doubt about it. LD's Kobe Bacon Bleu was the city's finest combination of burger, meat and cheese (as I noted in this here blog two years back). Then sadly (and without notification), they removed the burger from the menu. While their current burger offerings sound mighty attractive, I just don't see them living up to the Kobe Bacon Bleu. Similarly, running a close second for a while was the burger at Culver City's Beacon, a 1/2 lb meat behemoth with Nueske bacon, gruyere and a sweet soy glaze. I loved that burger so much that when the restaurant suddenly closed I wrote a haiku about it. Ah, memories...
So with two of my favorite LA burgers RIGHT THEN now six feet under, I think it's time to update my answer to the oft-asked query. But, also in typical LA fashion, I'm not really going to answer your question. Best burger in LA? Way too subjective. What I am willing to discuss and share are the burgers I crave most RIGHT NOW. Burgers that I enjoy, but due to distance and logistics I simply don't get to enjoy as much as I wish. The burgers that I think, if you try, you will crave as well. These hearty burgers stuck with me. But they didn't just stick to my gut - they stuck to my brain.
((Presented in alphabetical order because Los Angelenos are passive and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings by picking a "winner." These are all winners...))
CALIFORNIA GRASS-FED BURGER at Cooks County (8009 Beverly Blvd, LA) - Cooks County is one of those restaurants with so many appealing and accessible options on their menu, the burger often finds itself overlooked. Hell, the name, 'California Grass-Fed Burger' screams boring and do not order me. Ignore this intuition and order the burger. The Cooks County burger is not a fussy one. Rather, a burger of spare ingredients, each meticulously chosen by the chef. The perfectly, but not over-seasoned patty. The white cheddar cheese just sharp enough. And the secret weapon: an expertly grilled red onion that really puts the burger over the top.
|Photo Courtesy Haven Gastropub.|
LAZY OX BURGER at The Lazy Ox Canteen (241 S. San Pedro St, DTLA) - People had been insisting I check out Lazy Ox's burger for a while. "It's the tits, bro!," I heard on more than one drunken occasion. A few months back I finally made it downtown with a couple friends and I must admit the group was divided on the burger. Half of us really enjoyed it; the others not so much. I, obviously, was amongst the former. That said, I agree with A Hamburger Today, and feel the tri-blend patty and assorted accruements would be greatly heightened by a better bun. Bun aside, the burger had a tremendous char and taste. Not to mention the fact the fries, with a delicious touch of dill, are maybe the city's top frites. They also come with two dipping sauces, which never sucks.
FUEGO at North End Caffe (3421 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach) - North End Caffe is one of my favorite lunch spots in all of Los Angeles. They make great sandwiches and stellar Belgian fries with a beautiful beach backdrop. I'll be honest though: I never considered ordering a burger there until I saw the Fuego featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." I am glad I gave it a shot though. Yep, the bleached blonde, spiky hair dude knows what he was talking about. A hefty beef patty comes with pepper jack and cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, avocado, salsa and house-made chipotle mojo. This all atop a crunchy baguette - which for a San Francisco native like myself, I feel I do not see used as a burger bun hardly enough here in SoCal. For the Fuego, no single ingredient stands out, but like a ragtag group of misfits, together they shine. The view probably kicks it up a few notches as well. A truly halcyon burger eating experience.
RUSTIC CANYON BURGER at Rustic Canyon (1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica) - For a very long time I resisted the urge to try the Rustic Canyon Burger. After all, it costs $18 and I really felt there was no way it could live up to the price tag. Obviously, I was wrong. The 80/20 Niman Ranch blend RC Burger -- topped with an onion fondue, housemade pickles, an herb remoulade, arugula and a sharp cheddar -- lives up to any hype you may have heard. At eighteen buckaroos though, it's not meant to be an everyday burger. It was created to be a special occasion burger. A burger to lust after. A burger to dream about. A craveable burger.
Honorable Mention: Pier Burger, the burger and fries pictured at the top of the post. Due to its proximity to my house, I eat there a lot. Thus, I don't really crave it persay. But it's a high quality burger under $5. [[Five questions with the owner of Pier Burger]]