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Mar 5, 2009 10:55 AM

a SoCal burger?

On a recent pecan-pie seeking binge, I happened to go to Pie N Burger and Jongewaard's and a few other places, and I noticed a strange similarity in the burger aesthetic. Pie 'n Burger, Jongewaard's, In 'n Out (i know this is an import), and maybe even Apple Pan have a particular aesthetic - spongy crisped bread, thin well-done beef patty, lots of lettuce. It's less a burger of the presentation of a lot of high-quality ground beef, and more a burger-as-balanced-harmonious thing. A zen burger.


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  1. Ever have a hood burger? Im not sure if this is a burger confined to the geography of SoCal.. Ive never had one outside of Los Angeles. A good rendition can be found at B and R Burgers. Thicker type patty hand formed grilled with all the fixings..

    B & R's Old Fashion Burgers
    3512 W Rosecrans Ave, Hawthorne, CA 90250

    1. Master:

      try the Umami. That's zen.

      1 Reply
      1. re: RicRios

        Umami actually has a SoCal burger on the menu, kind of In-N-Outesque, I'd say. They even make their own "processed" cheese (begins with comte) and special sauce. Quite good.

      2. This could make an interesting discussion. The In-n-Out double-double is a fine accomplishment -- there is lots of crunch from the lettuce and the toasted bun and the raw onion thinly sliced and even the welldone thin patty, and then the unctuousness from the melty cheese and sauce and juice and flavor from the burger. Very different from the newer Hole-in-the-Wall Burger, which has a clipboard ordering checkoff process akin to the Counter's where there are a ton of options, but where the thick, grilled-to-order burger dominates the experience despite some strong-flavored condiments and a thick-textured pretzel bun. The Tommy's chili-double-cheeseburger is a completely different dynamic, with the patties resembling those of In-n-Out (while slightly bigger) but the entirety dominated by softness of bun and chili and tomato punctuated by crunchy onion and pickle.

        4 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          Why isn't the Hole-in-the-Wall burger open on Saturday evenings? We placed an order at 7PM and drove up and everything was shut down. Do they do most of their business weekdays?

          1. re: nosh

            Excellent desciprition of the accomplishment of the In-n-Out, nosh! You've got it exactly, I think - or, as my Candian philosopher of law companion-in-tortas would praise, "Bang on!"

            There's something important about both that style of burger, and the Philly cheesesteak, that you're using the cheaper, artificial cheese, that melts into gooey nothingness - a fine, gossamer, snot-like covering on everything. More so in the cheesesteak. "Unctiousness" is right - not the grainier, more substantial melt of higher quality cheddar, say. The ultra-melty american cheese thing makes it *combine* more, into a single nectar - "cheese and sauce and juice" is exactly it. It's the California Burger Mind Meld.

            Yeah - I call it the socal burger, because the thick, beef-oriented burger I've had all over the place, but the thin, balanced style seems mostly confined to the southwest, and most common in SoCal.

            1. re: Thi N.

              Thi, you and I need to get together to share some ridiculously good bad-for-you food! Yesterday I went to Big Mike's for lunch, the cheesesteak joint in El Segundo on Main, and found it packed even before 11:30. Ordered a large, half for then, half wrapped up for later. The secret to the second half was a slice of American cheese, yes the plastic-wrapped individual slice, placed into the heap of meat and both types of peppers while it reheated in the oven to crisp the bread and then a very short turn in the microwave to heat the meat and melt the cheese. Add a few dashes of Tabasco (Frank's would be even better) and it was perfect!

              1. re: nosh

                You guys need to go here for a burger taco!
                Junkfood fusion burger thing at its finest!

          2. Hey Thi, You know my recommend is gonna be 26 Beach, they been doing great burgers on home made buns for 25+ years. Had a chimmichurri burger there the other day for lunch, yummmmmmmmmmmmmmiii. Here is something you might enjoy...

            26 Beach
            3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

            1. I definitely recommend Novel Cafe in Westwood. The way they season the meat just makes me drool thinking about it. I try to recreate it with my own cooking, but I can't quite hang. The burger is around $8.95, and you can get it with various sides. The service isn't always the best, but if you're not in a rush it's worth the wait.

              Novel Cafe
              1101 Gayley Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024

              1 Reply
              1. re: datadreamer

                I don't like Novel Cafe for burgers. Walk another 2 blocks north to O'Hara's.