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best burger in Los Angeles

  • c

My family is starting a journal (with the reporter being my six year-old) on the search for the best burger in LA. The criteria is wide open, and will probably evolve as the tasting continues. I'd appreciate any chowhounder's advice on where to get started. The pre-journal favorite is the Pie & Burger in Pasadena. Thanks in advance.

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  1. Well, I'll jump right in! In no particular order:

    1) Apple Pan - sentimental favorite
    2) Tommy's - Beverly & Rampart, around 1am if possible
    3) In-N-Out - they're everywhere and consistent. The fries are usually garbage, though...
    4) Mike's Hockey Burger - Soto & Washington

    4 Replies
    1. re: Joe Blowe

      As for In'n'Out's fries, I agree. Try ordering them well done. They're better that way.

      1. re: Cindy

        The 1 a.m. Double Chili Cheese at the Tommy's on Pico and Lincoln (SM) put me right to sleep last nite.
        The smell stays with you all nite. The fries are great (crispy-I ask.)

      2. re: Joe Blowe

        I've been recommending LA Burger on pico near cresent heights. no one else ever mentions them. anyway, it's a tastey burger.

        1. re: Joe Blowe
          r
          Raul Gutierrez

          Nice list. I agree with the choices (but not the order).

          To your list I would add Pig on Beverly. The burger there was nothing short of fantastic.

        2. I have yet to find a great hamburger in LA and I've tried all the above mentioned places. My idea of a good burger is thick patty of freshly ground beef cooked to a juicey medium rare and served on a fresh kaiser roll. This kind of burger needs a minimum, if any, condiments or toppings. Does anyone know where to get one of these, short of buying the premium ingredients and preparing it yourself at home?

          The kind of "burger" served at stands and counters around town is a thin patty or two thin patties cooked until dry and lifeless(for fear of e-coli). The end result may be tasty but that is only because the mountain of toppings (cheese, chili, special sauces, pickles, tomatoes, etc.)that only serve to mask the blandness of the "burger" patty itself. I admit to indulging my craving for this kind of "burger" every now and then, but it's like the "burger" is only an afterthought.

          4 Replies
          1. re: mike

            Try Cassell's, on Sixth near Vermont. USDA Prime beef, ground several times daily--get the 2/3 pound burger cooked rare if you really want to taste the meat. (The Sterns, for example, once called this the best hamburger in the United States.) Good lemonade and homemade potato salad; awful fries.

            1. re: Pepper

              At the advice of Citysearch: Best of LA, I recently tried the 2/3 lb. giant at Cassell's and was not impressed at all. It's a decent burger, but my expectations were much higher, and definately NOT the "Best Burger In L.A.". Don't see what all the fuss is about The Apple Pan on Pico is about either. Again, a decent burger, but not deserving of the "Best of LA" title.

            2. re: mike

              Mike, Check out 26 Beach Cafe in Venice, i think it has great burgers, and they bake there buns fresh everyday.

              1. re: mike

                FINALLY, A WORD OF SANITY IN THE BURGER WARS! I AGREE THAT MOST OF THESE BURGERS BEING TOUTED AS "BEST IN LA" ARE LOW-RENT, DRIED OUT, SPECIAL SAUCE (i.e. RUSSIAN DRESSING) SATURATED GREASE BOMBS THAT ARE NOTHING MORE THAN KISSING COUSINS TO THAT KING OF CHEAP BURGERS: MCDEE! AS A CHOWHOUND WHO APPRECIATES A QUALITY BURGER, I'D FIRST PROPOSE THAT ANY "BEST" BURGER HAS TO BE COOKED OVER OPEN FLAMES, NOT ON THE GREASY GRILL. SECOND, I'D HAVE TO PROPOSE THAT IT STAND ALONE, WITHOUT A MEALY TOMATO AND A WEDGE OF ICEBURG BETWEEN IT AND THE BUN. AND FINALLY---FORGET THE FREAKING SAUCE! A "BEST" IS PURE BURGER, BUN & CRISP PICKLE. THAT BEING SAID, WHERE DOES THIS CHOWHOUND GO FOR HIS BURGERS? THE LOCAL DAILY GRILL. BEST BURGER IN LA. AT ABOUT 8 BUCKS WITH FRIES IT'S NO BARGAIN, BUT THE BEST IN LA...SO FAR....

              2. There is one underrated, if even rated at all, hamburger that deserves notice. The San Francisco Saloon on Pico Boulevard near Sawtelle serves a fantastic burger grilled on an open flame. I have never read a review or seen any notices about this place. The first time I had a burger here I thought that it was an anomoly, but I have never been disappointed. The burgers are thick and charred nicely. I like my burgers with the bare minimum of condiments (Only Ketchup) and you have to ask them to eliminate the inexplicably included mayonnaise. It is worth a journal entry,

                Also try the Pie n' Burger in Pasadena. It is well documented on Chowhound and worth the trip. It is most definetely a greasy spoon burger, but a successful one. The pies are wonderful. They make their Coke from scratch which is pretty nice to see. Enjoy!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Michael S.

                  I wrote up the San Francisco Saloon in the L.A. Reader about ten years ago, but I haven't seen any other reviews of the place... They do indeed make a fine burger. I have a fondness for the burgers at Houston's in Manhattan Beach, which are quite good and served with perfectly cooked but generally over-salted fries. Unfortunately the burgers are served on a very soft bun which falls apart while you're eating it. Alas for the demise of Fat Face Fenner's in Hermosa, which had the best burgers in a wide radius. Since they moved the seafood has been fine, but the burgers aren't up to the old standard.

                  Has anybody tried the burgers at Outlaws on Culver Boulevard? I keep meaning to do so, but I always end up getting a steak or the mixed grill instead. I like the place a lot, both for the good food and the cheerfully seedy atmosphere. It attracts an interesting crowd, a mix of bikers, wannabe cowboys, local blue collar, and interesting riffraff. Last time I was there a Buddhist monk in saffron robes was sitting at the bar having an animated discussion with a woman in a power suit and a scruffy looking guy with hair past his elbows. One of those "only in LA" moments...

                2. I think the key to a truly great hamburger is a very high quality meat patty. They serve a very high quality meat patty at George Petrelli's Steakhouse at 5615 S. Sepulveda Blvd. (at Jefferson) in Culver City (310) 398-9777. Petrelli's burger is 9 to 10 ounces of choice sirloin steak and steak timmings. No cheap cuts of beef in this burger. The owner personally cuts and grounds his own ground beef evry day. They will cook it to your desired doneness. Petrelli's hambuger is served with french fries and the usual add-ons. I think the burger is only served at lunch though. The hamburger is $6.95 and the cheeseburger is $7.35.

                  Burger lovers, check this out and let me know what you think.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Norm

                    Never had the hamburger at Petrelli's, because I've only been there for dinner. Truth be told, the steaks aren't great there, but I love the place -- it's a slice of old L.A., like the Smokehouse in Burbank.

                    Thanks very much for the tip.

                    1. re: Dave Feldman

                      It was a slice of old L.A.--until it moved to fairly sterile quarters across the street. Although I have to admit, Petrelli's has always been one of those oldish Westside restaurants, like Bruno's and the rest of the Culver City Italian places, whose appeal has managed to elude me.

                      Anybody been to the Buggy Whip recently?

                      1. re: Pepper

                        My brother lives within walking distance of the Buggy Whip. Occasionally I suggest going there, and I hear groans from my family, not because the food is horrible, but because the portions are so huge (my family, like goldfish and dogs, will eat themselves to death if given the opportunity).

                        I get the feeling that the quality has stayed level over the past ten years, and little has changed.

                        1. re: Dave Feldman

                          As far as I know, the Buggy Whip is the last place left that serves Green Goddess dressing without irony. And for that alone (as Green Goddess is yet another fine California invention), it deserves a historic preservation act of its own.

                          1. re: Pepper

                            Rest assured, I have it on good authority that Green Goddess still reigns at the Buggy Whip.

                            1. re: Pepper

                              As you know, Green Goddess dressing was invented at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It's still served at the Garden Court restaurant. Seems to be making a bit of a come back elsewhere up here too. Just wish they wouldn't make it with low-fat yogurt - yuck!

                            2. re: Dave Feldman

                              On a recent Friday night, I met a friend who was staying overnight near Los Angeles Int'l. Airport, and decided that I'd satisfy my curiosity about the nearby Buggy Whip restaurant. Not only was my curiosity piqued by the recent posts by Pepper and Dave Feldman, but the Buggy Whip is owned by the ex-husband of a good friend, and I'd heard a fair amount about it through her. We arrived around 8:30 p.m. to a totally empty restaurant--not a good sign on a Friday night. The only folks around (all of whom, like me, were well along in years) were at the bar, where a pianist/singer was holding forth. One look at the totally boring and mediocre wine list and I suspected that I was in trouble. I ordered fresh oysters to start, followed by prime rib with the Green Goddess salad and a baked potato. My wife also had the oysters, with sand dabs as her entree. Our friend had sea bass. The oysters, Olympias from Washington State, were fresh, nicely chilled, and tasted just fine. The salad was a disappointment, due primarily to the lack of flavor in the celebrated Green Goddess dressing. The prime rib was huge, but substandard in both flavor and texture, and well above the "rare" that I had ordered. My wife's sauteed sand dabs were okay, but nothing special. Our friend's sea bass, which had been baked in foil, was perhaps the best of the three entrees, but, again, nothing to get excited about. I found nothing to justify a return visit.

                      2. I think that the hamburger at Bar Marmont is great, as are the fries. It's on the thinner side, which I actually like, the bun is excellents, and they spread on some very tasty spicy sauce.