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Steak 'n Shake equivalent in SoCal?

Now I know people love their In 'n Out burger here in the LA area, but I have to say, growing up on burgers from Steak 'n Shake and GD Ritzy's in the Mid-West, In 'n Out burger pales tremendously in comparison. I don't think I have ever tasted a more bland burger. When I see the line of cars stretched out along the building I have to wonder if I am in The Twilight Zone.

Now I know there are *tons* of topics that have been beaten into the ground about "the best burger in Los Angeles" but what I would like to know is if there is anyone here that knows what a Steak 'n Shake burger tastes like and if there is anything similar to it here?

I consider them to be a step above your McDonald's, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, etc. chains.

Dare I say it..they are greasy.

And man, for those of you that never had a chance to eat at GD Ritzy's -- those were the best burgers and hot dogs I've ever had at a chain restaurant. And the shoestring fries were to die for.

I undoubted will die sooner in fact from the amount of times I ate there. :)

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  1. I've never had a "Steak and Shake" burger, but there is a place in Burbank called The Great Grill that has a pretty good burger. I grew up on Bob's Big Boy and love those.
    Hope this helps!

    1 Reply
    1. re: bosanova99

      Ah....Big Boy! I actually grew up on those burgers as well in Ohio. I had them here at Bob's and they are unfortunately different. The special sauced used in Ohio was a variant of Tartar sauce, while out here it seems to be relish. Gotta love those regional differences.

      I saw Bob's Big Boy Tartar Sauce at Ralph's and bought some to put on a home made burger. Blech...not the same stuff at all. :(

      On a side note, I live in Alhambra and there used to be a Bob's Big Boy here. It unfortunately closed and became a Noodle Planet. What an absolute tragedy that was. If I had known it was going to close, I would have eaten there every day that I could. Oh it just saddens me to think of it to this day!!!!!!

    2. I hate to break it to you my man, but out here . . . NOTHING comes close to Steak N Shake. In N out, Ricks, even Yuca's are considerably drier. I would say Yuca's has the best SEASONING . . . Rick's is good for its size and In N Out is a close all around sandwich(and cheaper than Steak N Shake) but they are not the same. Stack burgers are a problem that need to be addressed in SoCal . . . .

      1. If you are looking for something "greasy" in a burger then I suggest you take a taste test of one of the "Kobe" style burgers being offered around town. The original Tops in Pasadena on Colorado Blvd. or The Arsenal on Pico Blvd. in West LA. have burgers which will have the "mouth feel" it sounds like you are searching for. Just don't have them overcooked. Med. rare at the most.

        Tops 3838 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, Ca. 91107 (626) 449-4412

        The Arsenal 12012 W Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90064 Phone: (310) 575-5511

        3 Replies
        1. re: Servorg

          A different kind of "mouth feel," Servorg, believe me. Steak 'n Shake is good, especially with a bowl of their chili, but it's very different from a Kobe burger -- not nearly as rich. To the OP: try Pie 'n Burger -- a bit looser and thinner and a lot more flavorful than most -- and don't forget the pie!

          1. re: sbritchky

            Thanks! I will be sure to try it. You get bonus points for suggesting a place that is not too far away from me as well (Alhambra to Pasadena is *extremely* painless!!!).


            1. re: atrac

              Time your commute and try the burgers at the Apple Pan. I grew up on both P&B & AP and love em

              Apple Pan
              10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

        2. For those who haven't experienced one, a Steak & Shake burger hits the flattop grill as a hockey puck-shaped serving of ground beef about the size of a golf ball -- maybe slightly bigger. It is then pressed down to flatten it and widen it to a thin round patty. After a sear on one side, it is flipped and cooked on the other. For what it is worth, Steak & Shake's burgers were the model for Danny Meyer when he started the Shake Shack in a NYC park. Steak & Shake's fries are the shoe-string variety, about the same thickness as In-N-Out's, but longer and made from frozen potatoes I'm sure. They come out crisp but longer and much softer and more flexible than In-N-Out's. Steak & Shake calls their burgers "steakburgers" and advertises that they are made from ground steak, but then again just about any cut from the cow can be called a steak... There is something about that process of flattening the hockey puck golfball of meat into a flat patty on the grill that is much of the essence of the Steak & Shake steakburger.

          4 Replies
          1. re: nosh

            I haven't been to Steak & Shake, but I have had a LOT of L.A. burgers. From your description (the pressed, thin patty; a bit greasy) there is a place that comes to mind: Doublz, an Inland Empire/Antelope Valley chain. I've been to the one in Santa Fe Springs several times. I'm sure it's different, but it might hit some of the same notes.

            11242 E Washington Blvd
            Santa Fe Springs
            (562) 463-9898

            1. re: BearCity

              It looks like the El Monte location is closest to me..not that far at all. And looking at their online menu, their prices are extremely reasonable (!!).


              I'll be checking this one out too...thanks!

              1. re: atrac

                I had the opportunity to eat at Doublz this evening. Although the burger is not really very close to a Steak & Shake burger, I *will* say that I really enjoyed it quite a bit and will certainly eat there again. It is a greasy burger. :) They also have quite the generous portions too (I could not finish the fries!).

                Thanks for the suggestion! They are now on my radar for future burger cravings!

            2. re: nosh

              Interesting...I'm a big fan of Shake Shack NYC, which has really flavorful burgers. But there are plenty of detractors on the Manhattan Board who pine for the likes of In 'N Out (which I enjoy). I also have been very happy with the burgers at Fatburger here in LA.

            3. "I don't think I have ever tasted a more bland burger. When I see the line of cars stretched out along the building I have to wonder if I am in The Twilight Zone."

              Slightly off topic, but have you ordered your In-N-Out burger animal style? If not, then you haven't really tasted their product at its best.

              3 Replies
              1. re: GuidoTKP

                thats the point. you need the extras to dress up the dry beef. compared to steak n shake, the beef is like sand. and i like In N out.

                1. re: GuidoTKP

                  Well, I'm not a fan of onions my burger (or on anything for that matter). And their variation of Thousand Island sauce is also not really to my liking...again, quite bland...not tangy enough. :(

                  1. re: GuidoTKP

                    These were my thoughts exactly, the animal style(meat patty cooked with a smear of mustard, grilled onions, extra sauce, and pickles, in addition to the regular lettuce and tomato and if ordered, cheese) is quite a bit tangier that the regular. And be sure to order a double double animal style. The double has more ballance than the single.

                  2. Pie N Burger is my absolute favourite of all time. I can't say enough good things. It's my burger. I'm their girl.

                    913 E California Blvd
                    Pasadena, CA 91106
                    (626) 795-1123

                    But if you want a skinny little flat greasy burger, you might want to try "The White Hut," which is literally just a hut, with just a few stools and a grill. I haven't been there in years since I love Pie N Burger so much I feel disloyal anytime I eat another burger. But I recall them being similar to Steak N Shake. Or rather, when I had SNS for the first time a few years ago, I remember thinking it was a lot like The White Hut.

                    I have to admit, when I watch Cardinals games the ads for Steak N Shake kill me. Those shakes were beautiful.

                    The White Hut
                    26 S Madison Ave
                    Pasadena, CA 91101
                    (626) 795-2575
                    Hours: Mon-Fri 7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: khh1138

                      Oh oh! Two places in Pasadena! I'm loving you guys! I'm going to try them both for sure now!


                      1. re: atrac

                        Please report back after you've tried them APAC! Coming from Chi-town, I definitely have not had anything close to Steak N' Shake out here, and agree its an amazing burger. Pasadena is far for El Jefe, but for a Steak N' Shake burger, he is willing to get in his coche and drive back to the midwest.

                      2. re: khh1138

                        That White Hut location, to explain further, is at the SE corner of Madison and Colorado, in the parking lot of Zinke's Shoe Repair. No, they don't sell Sole Food...

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          I just noticed their hours -- Mon - Fri 7am - 3:30pm. That's going to be a little difficult. I'll have to go on a day off. ;)

                            1. re: blackbookali

                              I saw your post at about 2:30pm today and realized I should use my day off to go give it a try. I arrived at 3:06pm to find that they closed at 3:00pm. I was extremely po'ed because there is a menu posted online that lists them closing at 3:30pm.


                              As I walked up the heavyset elderly lady made sure to check that the doors were locked. Heaven forbid they get one more paying customer! The horror!!!!

                              Honestly, with hours of Mon-Fri 7:00am - 3:00pm, they are not going to get my business any time soon unless I end up getting a job in downtown Pasadena. Those hours are just way too inconvenient. And apparently they aren't interested in working any longer than they have to. Not the "Mom & Pop" shop attitude that I am familiar with.

                              1. re: atrac

                                Did you ever get over to Tops? At least their hours of operation should be more "user friendly" for you:

                                Tops 3838 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, Ca. 91107 (626) 449-4412 Sun-Thu 6:30 am-11 pm; Fri-Sat 6:30 am-midnight

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  It's funny because I did a google map for "Tops" and I realize that I *have* eaten there before about a year and half ago. I remember it being pretty good too. Unfortunately, Steak n Shake did not come to my mind when I ate it, but it was a good burger never-the-less. I'm going to have to check them out again sometime. ;)

                                  1. re: atrac

                                    Don't forget, it's their Kobe burger you need to ask for. They have other burgers, but this is the one.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      That is a good point. I remember the day I was there I was low on cash so I got the cheapest burger on the menu. I'll definitely need to go back and try the Kobe burger.

                              2. re: blackbookali

                                SO, I had the day off today and decided to give White Hut another attempt. Definitely the burger is closer to Steak N Shake than any other one I have tried thus far. The size and thickness was right. Just not as greasy. Of course, I don't ever expect to find an exact replica here in SoCal, but I have to say it was quite a nice burger and fries. The price was nice too ($5 for a double-cheeseburger and fries!).

                                I felt a little sorry for them though. I was in there at 1:30pm today and I was the only customer in sight. That's a shame because the burgers are definitely terrific and it's a nice bargain. Hopefully I just missed the lunch rush....I would hate to see them leave us so quickly after just discovering them. :(

                                Thanks for the tip!

                                1. re: atrac

                                  This place is kind of in the same predicament as Rick's. See this article from the Pasadena Weekly from a couple of months ago:


                                  1. re: ozzygee

                                    Oh no! Good lord I hope they do try to declare it a landmark. The place has lots and LOTS of character. Something very difficult to find in this day and age.

                                    Bulldozing that place would be a serious crime. :(

                                    1. re: ozzygee

                                      Ugh. I just went to read about White Hut and apparently they've closed their doors.

                                      This economy really blows. :(

                                      1. re: atrac

                                        The property on which it sat is being redeveloped. I don't think it was a matter of the place going out of business, but rather being forced out. Zinke's, the venerable shoe repair that was there for decades, had to relocate to somewhere on north Lake.

                                    2. re: atrac

                                      Yay! I'm so glad you had a chance to make it there. I'll have to try to get there again some day soon -- I'll have to play hooky from school, though, to get there before they close!

                            2. Now, I may get laughed off the board, but...

                              I seem to recall enjoying a surprisingly good burger at The Pantry at lunchtime. I seem to recall a large globe of meat hitting the grill and being flattened by spatula. Now, I've only had the burger at the now-defunct Pantry annex (which is now Riordan's Tavern), and I just don't remember if they serve the burger at the Original Pantry Cafe. They do have a hamburger steak on the menu; I don't see why they couldn't put it on a bun, assuming they have one.

                              1. If you're looking for a so cal different burger experience.....Try these:

                                If you're a big eater, try the "Cardiac Burger" or


                                1. Forgot to mention I DID notice that your post is 3 years old, but it's fresh to me, ha, ha!

                                  1. I lived in Missouri for 2.5 years in the seventies and Steak and Shake was one of my staple lunch stops around the state. About three years ago, while on vacation SWMBO and I ate at a Steak and Shake near the Cleveland, OH airport. To me, they were not the same as I had experienced in Missouri. One problem, in my opinion, is that different restaurants of a chain are not as diligent in their preparation of the product so as to maintain the quality of the product that made the chain viable. Most notably, locally, Philly's Best, Tommy Pastrami and Farmer Boys. The Philly's Best on Brookhurst in OC (the home store) provides a very credible cheese steak. One that opened in Whittier, was so poor in their preparation that they did not survive. Another has opened at MacArthur and Fairview in OC, but I have yet to sample their wares. although, for a time, they were offering an attractive coupon. I have been to a number of Tommy Pastrami's and most have been faithful to the concept and the original store. I know that Tommy is diligent about checking on the stores and in the training of the new staffs. The Brea store was good, at first, but on subsequent visits "slippage" became apparent. On one visit they (a New York-style deli) were out of rye bread! They had also switched to a commercially supplied cole slaw. On my next visit, the rye bread was supermarket thin-sliced and not what I was expecting. I reported my findings to Tommy which precipitated a visit the next day (reportedly for them to straighten up and fly right). Needless to say, Tommy was forced to yank their franchise.

                                    Now, as to tasty hamburgers, Farmer Boys (some, not all I have found) is offering what they call their Homestyle hamburger. It is a hand-formed 1/3 lb. patty and has the appropriate juiciness and flavor, very close to what i remember a Steak and Shake to be in a bigger patty.

                                    It, the 1/3 lb. at Counters, and the sliders at Islands remain my favorite burgers (Tommy Patrami had a half-pounder that was very good, but didn't sell enough to stay on the menu.) For fast food, I prefer In-n-Out. Five Guys has yet to thrill me, except for their fries which i think are addictive. The Habit (based out of Santa Barbara but now in Santa Fe Springs) is a decent burger and I like their grilled tuna. They'll give you a half and half order of rings and fries that is good. I see that Burger King is offering mini-burgers but I haven't checked them out yet.

                                    Santa Fe Cafe
                                    353 N Pass Ave Ste B, Burbank, CA 91505

                                    1. I've been to Steak 'n Shake having spent considerable time in Evanston, IL. Can't hold a candle to In 'n Out, Fatburger, Clearman's Galley, Apple Pan, Cassell's Hamburgers, Mo's, Russell's, or Jake's of Pasadena.

                                      Apple Pan
                                      10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                      Cassell's Hamburgers
                                      3266 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

                                      Clearman's Restaurants
                                      540 N Azusa Ave, Covina, CA 91722

                                      4 Replies
                                        1. re: blackbookali

                                          Burbank, Toluca Lake... not sure of the actual city.

                                          1. re: scottca075

                                            Ok. Ive been there. I have to say except for In n Out which is on the dry side compared to Steak n Shake, the other burger places you mention all are a different style of burger. I like Apple Pan, but have not been to Russell's or Jake's. Are they on the same level as Apple Pan?

                                            Apple Pan
                                            10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                            1. re: blackbookali

                                              No, but when you live in Burbank, it is just a lot easier than the Westside :)

                                      1. Had a burger at steak n' shake in FL. It was good but not as good as In N' Out.

                                        Only my modest opinion.

                                        1. To imply that Steak n Shake is only a step above McDees, Wendys, Jack in Box sure doesn't say much for Steak n Shake because they all have terrible burgers. In n Out double double animal style is so much better than McDees , etc.

                                          1. Sadly, Steak 'n' Shake today is not even close to what it was in its golden age. It began some years back when they "modernized" the menu and did away with those charming slogans: "In sight, it must be right," and my favorite, "It's a Meal!" A modest claim like that is at least easy to live up to. Today, though, S'n'S is just another greasy burger joint, no longer worth a stop on the drive through the flyover zone.

                                            1. I grew up w/ Steak n Shake in St. Louis but my mom hated them, so I only went there after I was driving. I liked their thin fries -- longer and more delicate somehow than McD's, more tender but still some crisp. Their burgers were placed on the grill then smashed, so today's Smashburger follows a similar technique. Their shakes were real.

                                              I think the closest approximation may be at Pier Burger, on the Santa Monica Pier, for the burgers. Pier Burger serves a frozen custard "concrete" (no milk, mix-ins and/or syrups) that is more akin to a Ted Drewe's. Their fries are nothing like the thin, long, delicat shoestrings that were Steak'n'Shake's.