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Mar 4, 2009 01:06 PM

Tommy's - an appreciation

It is what it is. You like it or you don't. I've been going to Tommy's - the original location at Beverly & Rampart - since 1967. Over the past 25 years or so it's only been about once a year. Today was the day.

No, it does not have the best burger patty by far. Not the best bun, the best chili, the best tomato, pickle, onion, mustard. That is, it doesn't have the best of all that stuff individually. The whole thing is, however, far greater than the sum of its parts. It is perfection for what it is - a Tommy's Burger.

I prefer the simple old, single cheese burger. I think the balance of flavors is perfect. And today, just for the hell of it, I took a bite of the tomato by itself and it was a surprisingly good, thick, juicy tomato. I ate one of the pickles by itself, it was very tart, an excellent complement to the rest of the burger. The chili, the patty, the cheese - all was as it has ever been - or at least during my 42 years of experience.

And it was $2.40 - a total deal. (If I recall correctly, when I first went it was 40 cents for the same burger.)

Now most of the time, when I want a burger I crave something different; something with high-quality meat you can taste all on its own, with top of the line individual ingredients. I'm willing to pay a premium for that.

But that Tommy's burger, once a year, is as excellent as it has always been. At thisrate, if my body holds up, I figure I've got another 25 to 30 of them in my future, and I'm looking forward to them.

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  1. Agreed. Tommy's is something special. I especially like the fries. Nice and crispy. If you eat the chili fries fast enough, the fries stay crispy down to the last one. The dogs are always nice and crisp, never chewy. I usually go to either the Santa Momica (so-so) and Eagle Rock (really good) locations. I have to admit, though, I like the double cheese burger. If you ask them, they can even construct a monster triple decker. Guilty pleasure.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ohdaylay

      Tommy's are my favorite Fast Food Fries hands down... I love those little greasy extra crispy numbs you sometimes get... Only at Tommys...

      1. re: Dommy

        Tommy's, at least the one on Pico and Lincoln in Santa Monica, is one of the few places that when you ask for your fries extra welldone, they actually come out noticeably crispier and darker. And a big helping; I usually can't finish them.

        I prefer the double-chili-cheeseburger -- the single patty just gets a little lost in all the chili and tomato and other stuff. Agree with the OP -- a Tommy's chili-cheeseburger is much more than the sum of its parts.

      1. Tommy's = WIN

        Stoned and have a bad case of the munchies, Tommy's is the best remedy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: A5 KOBE

          Tomm's has the best CHILI.
          When I lived in Lake Tahoe, my parent used to Fed Ex me Tommy's Chili.

        2. I too have been going there for 40 years and it's still a treat after all these years.

          1. The one individual ingredient you didn't taste on its own was the chili. My daughter gets her burger with the chili on the side. I'll use some for my fries and if there's some left over I'll eat it plain. It's horrible on its own, there's no meat in the chili. It looks like something lumpy like meat, but it isn't.
            Try it next year on your annual pilgrimage.

            Don't get me wrong, I like Tommy's for what it is.
            I always get the chili dog and eat the tomatoes and pickles individually and scoop off some chli with my fries until its somewhat "neat" enough to pick up and eat the hot dog and some chili.

            Here's another good way to eat a Tommy's burger. One day at some event there were extra Tommy's burgers and I took a few home and put them in my refrigerator and ate them cold, they were pretty tasty.

            4 Replies
            1. re: monku

              Cold? You are a braver man than I. All that congealed grease. Hard to imagine. Then again, I will try anything once.

              1. re: estone888

                You got it....congealed grease.
                If you like pizza from the refrigerator, you'll like a Tommy's burger the same way.

              2. re: monku

                From Wikipedia I found, "Original Tommy's chili is a mixture of an all-beef chili con carne base, flour, water, and a "secret" blend of spices, and resembles a condiment more than a conventional bowl of chili." I was hoping you were correct about no meat because several weeks ago i stopped eating meat and the only thing I miss is Tommy's breakfast sandwich.

                1. re: JeetJet

                  Wikipedia? (JJ-I'm surprised at you)
                  They might put one all beef hamburger patty into 5 gallons of chili and that would be as much meat I've seen in it.