(Where I take all other “best burger in Los Angeles” lists and slaughter them)
If I ever found myself on Death Row when granted my last meal I would say two things: 1) “I regret nothing”
2) “Gimme a burger”
Yes, my all-time Death Row last meal would be a good old-fashioned American hamburger (anything else would just be communist). There’s a pervasive myth in society that burgers are really uncouth junk food but that’s just not true. Burgers get a bad rap cause they’re usually associated with fast food joints like McDonald’s or Carl’s Jr, where the patty is 10% meat, 10% cat, and 80% sawdust. A real burger at a real restaurant is just 100% ground beef; the good healthy animal protein that your growing body needs. The unhealthy part starts to come in when you add all those crazy condiments and bread, which, depending on whatever diet is trending may be a danger zone for you (suck it paleo). So yes, burgers and I have had a long standing monogamous relationship that’s going to be pretty tough for me to cheat on no matter how slutty you try to make your foie gras look.
I’ve seen plenty of Internet lists, blogs, and signs that claim to have the “Best Burger in LA” but I’ve tried them all and for the most part they can suck tofu. So take your Rustic Canyon, your Bowery, your Oaks Gourmet, your Escondite, your In N’ Outs, and shove em up your ass. Here are the definitive top five burger joints in LA:
Father’s Office (Culver City/Santa Monica)
What burger list would be complete without Father’s Office on it? It’s a favorite for a reason, because it’s damn good. I respect when a chef tells me there are no substitutes for his creation because I assume he knows more than I do when it comes to food. It’s akin to someone randomly cropping your photography or deleting a whole paragraph from your master thesis. Hands off the art little girl. While I’m not a fan of the archaic order at the bar and then death match for a seat system the burger and the best sweet potato fries in town make up for it.
The Fix Burger (Silverlake)
Flanked by hair salons and a gym on the Hyperion strip sits the decidedly not vain Fix burger. They call it “the fix” because it’s an addiction. Of all the places mentioned in this article, this burger is the one that has the most “meaty” flavor. They have some classics and a couple specialty burgers, but I usually go with the “Seoul Burger” which has a complement of mushrooms, jack, and kimchi. My only complaints are the droll ambiance and soft serve shakes (real shakes are hand mixed, accept no substitutes) but what do you care, you’re here for the beef.
Larkin’s (Eagle Rock)
Disclaimer: Larkin’s patty is actually a blend of beef, pork, and spicy sausage which, probably makes this the best tasting burger on this list. I’ll let you purists decide if this counts as a burger or not (although my stomach says you should shut up and take the stick out of your ass). The patty is giant and served on a Kaiser roll with spicy mayo. Just to make your abs feel better, they throw a handful of mixed greens on the side but this is a soul food restaurant so don’t come in expecting kombucha. Unfortunately the bad lighting and hollow ambiance here actually has a negative affect on your meal but you can’t go wrong if you’re strictly in the mood for moo, or at least a blend of moo and oink. (EDITORS NOTE: Larkin’s has since closed. See comments below for new burger suggestions.)
Hole In The Wall Burger (West LA / West Hollywood)
Typically I’m not a fan of food that you have to fill out a checklist for, but unlike the Counter Burger, these options are pretty easy to choose from. While beef is the topic at hand, the turkey burger here isn’t too shabby either. So place your order, get your brown paper bag of goodies, and sit outside in the patio cause this place is the trailer park of hamburgers.
Golden State (Mid – City)
The burger on the menu is just named “The Burger” for good reason. Because it is THE burger and it’s made with Harris Ranch beef and applewood bacon. While it may not be the top burger on this list it’s still a damn good cut of cow. Well-designed and cozy you can’t complain much about Golden State, which in my opinion is way better than the “foodie” favorite Animal across the street. California wins every time.
So if you’re hankering for some ground cow to shove in your pie hole this fine evening make sure it’s worth the calories. Eating food is way more intimate when you’re using your hands so grab some napkins and a beer or seven. After all, this is your cheat meal right?
[Photo: The classic Apple Pan burger in West LA]