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Whats the Deal with Cassells, and who has LA's superlative Burger?

r
ryan Oct 12, 2004 08:02 PM

For a city whose inhabitants are obsessed with burgers, you would think it would be easy to find a realy good one. Maybee as a NYer my tastes for burgers are not as refined as those having grown up in burgerland, but whats with the flat patty? All of LA's "best" seem to feature a burger with meat the girth of a tomato: applepan, in and out, Beanery...

Im not sure i'll ever trust a burger that comes to me before im ever asked how i want it cooked(rare). Any place I should try anyways?

  1. j
    john Oct 14, 2004 02:52 PM

    is Russel's still around in long beach?
    burger, hashbrowns, and strawberry pie...

    2 Replies
    1. re: john
      g
      Grub Hound Sep 23, 2007 08:22 AM

      Not sure if it's still there but how about the Shack Burger in Playa Del Rey? Tasty burger topped with a Hot Dog.

      1. re: john
        maxzook Sep 23, 2007 10:51 AM

        Closed in LB, still alive in Pasadena.

        -----
        Russell's
        30 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

      2. d
        DanaB Oct 13, 2004 05:54 PM

        The thing is, LA really *is* a burger town, you just have to recognize that there are two distinct styles of burgers here, both with their afficionados. There's the flat-pattied fast food burger, served with chili, cheese, special sauce, etc., such as those served at fatburger, tommy's, in 'n out, and most of the little burger stands around town, like jay's jayburgers, where the meat is not the star but almost acts as merely a delivery system for the toppings. Then there's the meaty, thick-pattied burgers, like you find at Cassell's, Father's Office, Houston's and some of the higher-end joints in town. Both have their merits, but I could see being disappointed with the fast-food style if what you were craving was a thick-pattied, meaty burger.

        My favorite in the "burger stand" category is the Apple Pan (although to my taste their meat quality is a step above your typical burger stand burger). IMHO, you must get the hickory burger, with cheese, to fully appreciate the Apple Pan. I know there are differing opinions on this place and don't want to open that can of worms again, just wanted to note my favoite.

        In the meaty burger category, others have already noted how divine the burger is at Father's Office, and I concur. I also think they've got a wonderful, thick-pattied burger cooked to order at Hal's in Venice. Finally, I once had a fantastic burger in the bar at Tam O'Shanter -- great quality beef, thick, juicy patty cooked exactly as I ordered it (I'm a med.-rare girl), with a nice sharp cheddar on toasted sourdough bread. This was a couple of years ago, and it still lives in my mind as one of the best burgers I've had in LA. But, since I only had it that one time, I can't promise your experience will be the same as mine.

        Hal's Bar & Grill
        1349 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice
        310-396-3105

        Tam O'Shanter Inn
        2980 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Feliz
        323-664-0228

        1 Reply
        1. re: DanaB
          m
          Mr Grub Oct 13, 2004 07:30 PM

          Great post, DanaB. The Grubber knows cuz I coulda written it.

          The Grubman has 2 favs among the flat patty killed-to-death-&-then-killed-again-for-good-measure burgers: Tommy's Original & Jack's Ultimate Cheeseburger. (In 'n Out's #1 doesn't count -- retired the trophy long ago).

          The high-end places that grind their own beef are just about the only places that will actually cook them burgers rare. But you also will pay $7-10 for the luxury. Houston's does indeed do a good job as does the Tam.

          Several others of note. Pete's (downtown) can be erratic, but mostly delicious. In Pasadena, skip Pie n Burger & try Burger Continental, a strange & wonderful place that will actually crank out a killer burger if you give them VERY CAREFUL INSTRUCTIONS. Not noted for their attention span. Finally, both Grubs' current favorite beef bomb is at Outlaws in Playa del Rey of all places. The embarrassingly named Jack the Ripper is da bomb of bombs. Pricey in a very bulletproof place but omigod delicious.

        2. w
          Wes Oct 13, 2004 02:05 PM

          I found Billy's Grill to be the best and juicest burger in town. Great flavor and a thick patty. All the trimmings and under $4. Really good fries too.

          Van Nuys at Magnolia in the valley.

          Now I've talked myself in going there for lunch.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Wes
            j
            JimN Oct 14, 2004 11:09 AM

            Billy's does indeed crank out a great burger!

          2. b
            Bob Wollman Oct 13, 2004 01:41 PM

            My Dad -- a big, beefy, rare NY-style-juicy-burger fancier, if ever there was one -- swears the coffee shop at the Beverly Hills Hotel makes the best burger (of this ilk) in town. Any bronx cheers or, perish the thought, agreement on this?

            1. m
              mc michael Oct 13, 2004 01:26 PM

              You should go to The Counter on Ocean Park in Santa Monica and design your own burger. Or, go to 26 Beach Cafe at 3100 Washington Blvd. in Venice and try one of their big burgers. Good stuff.

              1. n
                NAspy Oct 13, 2004 01:05 PM

                Had a great burger at the restaurant next door to Book Soup in West Hollywood. I can't recall the name of the place but the burger was excellent.

                Buy a book at Book Soup, and dribble hamburger stuff all over it at lunch. Perfect lunch.

                1 Reply
                1. re: NAspy
                  2
                  2chez mike Oct 13, 2004 02:50 PM

                  There was a little greek cafe in that location until recently. They made a good gyro there. I wonder if they sold out or moved.

                2. j
                  JeniH Oct 13, 2004 12:41 PM

                  Father's Office...
                  they only have one burger with blue cheese on it, and they won't let you order it without it. but its really really good... my boyfriend hates blue cheese, or any other kinds of cheese, but he still loves F.O.'s burger! that's where we go when we're craving a real burger. good luck finding a table to sit at though... its always so friggin jammed in there, you'll barely even see the floor at times.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: JeniH
                    m
                    Mr. Taster Oct 13, 2004 01:58 PM

                    Does anyone know if Father's Office is open/serves the burger for lunch?

                    Mr. Taster

                    1. re: Mr. Taster
                      b
                      Burger Boy Oct 13, 2004 02:05 PM

                      Yeah, what about lunch, sometimes it is the only time I want a burger.

                      1. re: Mr. Taster
                        j
                        JimN Oct 13, 2004 03:24 PM

                        Unfortunately, no. FO opens at 5pm Monday through Friday. On Saturday & Sunday, they open at 3pm and start serving food at 4pm.

                      2. re: JeniH
                        n
                        Norm Oct 13, 2004 08:03 PM

                        And how much is this great burger at Father's Office? Thanks in advance.

                      3. c
                        Culinary Detective Oct 13, 2004 10:55 AM

                        Yea...B and R Burger in Hawthorne is a must try...if you want meat, get the Royal burger..it must be at least 6 inches thick and most of that meat!

                        Link: http://www.culinarydetective.com

                        1. g
                          gj Oct 13, 2004 10:31 AM

                          It's really simple, go to B & R's Old Fashioned burgers at 3512 W. Rosecrans. These other hamburgers listed down below don't even begin to compare.

                          All the more amazing, you'll excape from B & R without paying these outrageous, faux-gourmet $9-20 prices for your burger. $5 or so gets you an incredibly flavorful, substantial hunk of beef plus lots of fixings.

                          Really, it's what Cassel's and all the rest should be and perhaps could be if they put a lot more thought in the prep. and execution.

                          1. w
                            WLA Oct 13, 2004 09:55 AM

                            I also like my thick style burger cooked rare. We recently tried the Grand Lux Cafe, (owned by the same folks who own the Cheesecake Factory) at the Beverly Center on La Cienega. I had their "Max" burger and it was stupendously good. So juicy and bursting with that savory meat flavor you get with excellently marbled, coarsely ground beef. I will get the same thing the next time for sure. One caveat, the fries were terrible.

                            1. f
                              Foodseeker Oct 13, 2004 09:01 AM

                              Scoff if you will, and maybe it's just because it is what I grew up with, but to me the perfect burger (and it is best ordered rare) is at Hamburger Hamlet. My own favorite is the blue cheese burger (served with a thick slice of tomato, dill pickle chips and raw red onion), but my son will invariably order the chili burger.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Foodseeker
                                j
                                Jen Oct 13, 2004 09:05 AM

                                I've also loved that burger since I was a kid (haven't had it in years, though.)

                                1. re: Foodseeker
                                  m
                                  Midlife Oct 13, 2004 02:17 PM

                                  Don't get me started! I arrived in California in 1959 and became a regular at Hamburger Hamlet almost immediately (my mother took me in those early years). My favorite was the Oak Plank, which was a large hamburger steak actually served on an a piece of oak, smothered in sauteed onions. I took my wife of 36 years to the Hamlet in Brentwood on our first real date in 1964, Her favorite was the Stella Nelson (a tuna sandwich & salad combo, I think). I also remember the rice pudding being a favorite, as well as something called a Tin Roof Sundae (peanuts were involved in that one).

                                  But I digress.......... The Hamlet is a shadow of it's former self these days but the burgers are still among my favorites. From the far South end of OC it's not a frequent event, but we still manage once or twice a year at one or another of the LA locations.

                                  1. re: Midlife
                                    c
                                    ciao ny Oct 14, 2004 02:45 AM

                                    I've lived here for only 7 months, and pass the HH on Hollywood almost everyday. Never been in, but after your tribute will go before the end of the week. But tomorrow....it's 26 Beach Cafe.

                                    1. re: ciao ny
                                      m
                                      Midlife Oct 14, 2004 03:20 PM

                                      Please remember that I said HH is now a shadow of it's former self. We go now as much for nostalgia as for the quality. We still think it's good, but not what it was.

                                      1. re: Midlife
                                        c
                                        ciao ny Oct 15, 2004 03:59 AM

                                        Got to 26 Beach for lunch today. Probably the best burger I've had in the 7 months I live in LA. Ordered medium rare/leaning towards rare. Was perfect; large, juicy, flavorful. Just like the burger memories I have of great NYC diners of 25+ years ago.

                                2. d
                                  Dylan Oct 13, 2004 01:27 AM

                                  Haven't read through the rest of the postings, but a great burger can be had the the Bel Air hotel bar (and it's a beautiful place, too). Very expensive, jacket erequired in the bar.

                                  It's on the thin side, but the burger at Bar Marmont is fantastic and underappreciated. Comes with a most delicious spicy sauce and a unique bun.

                                  1. f
                                    frankieb Oct 12, 2004 11:33 PM

                                    Try Fathers Office in Santa Monica...No choice but really good

                                    Try The Counter in Santa Monica...all the choices you could imagine

                                    Try 26 Beach even though Burger Boy is an owner there.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: frankieb
                                      b
                                      Burger Boy Oct 12, 2004 11:48 PM

                                      Part owner, just 99.3%, i keep the old japanese guy around as a front........lol

                                      I would never want to own a restaurant, a fast food joint maybe, sandwiches like the old place at 5th and Grand (I can not remember the name) and throw in some panini and some salads and wine and some great dessert, hey wait, that is a restaurant..........LOL

                                      1. re: frankieb
                                        b
                                        Burger Boy Oct 12, 2004 11:49 PM

                                        Frankie, looks like your stock in the COUNTER is sky rocketing, do you ever give out free burgers to rival owners?

                                      2. m
                                        misst Oct 12, 2004 08:56 PM

                                        Well, of the ones you mentioned, I believe most of them cook to order, so you CAN order a rare burger.

                                        Personally, I think Cassell's is the best, probably b/c it's meaty and I can customize it myself w/ a huge array of fixings. In 'N Out and Fatburger have more locations and are more convenient for a quick fix when I have my carnivore cravings.

                                        Father's Office is more of a gourmet burger, I think, ground ribeye, w/ caramelized onions, blue cheese, and arugula. I like it, but it may be a little sweet for those who don't like sweetness in their burgers.

                                        1. e
                                          Ernie Oct 12, 2004 08:44 PM

                                          Bake & Broil in Long Beach has an excellent burger

                                          1. l
                                            liu Oct 12, 2004 08:20 PM

                                            Father's Office has a great burger!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: liu
                                              b
                                              Burger Boy Oct 12, 2004 08:53 PM

                                              I forgot Father's Office........sorry about that

                                            2. b
                                              Burger Boy Oct 12, 2004 08:13 PM

                                              26 Beach Restaurant, serious hamburgers you can get rare.
                                              3100 Washington, Venice

                                              Jays Jay Burgers double chili cheese burger Virgil & Santa Monica Blvd

                                              Had a Fat Burger the other day with bacon, egg and cheese, really liked it.

                                              Try the burger at The Bucket in Eagle rock with the garlicky mess they put on top.

                                              11 Replies
                                              1. re: Burger Boy
                                                j
                                                jill Oct 12, 2004 08:20 PM

                                                Try Mo's in Toluca Lake.

                                                1. re: jill
                                                  b
                                                  Burger Boy Oct 12, 2004 09:05 PM

                                                  I was at Mo's a few months ago and the burger was thick like a hockey puck, over cooked and tough. Loved the grilled Artichoke. I wish they could bring back Hampton's.......................

                                                  1. re: Burger Boy
                                                    d
                                                    DavidSL Oct 13, 2004 12:46 AM

                                                    Hamptons was great. I didn't know it was gone until was looking for it about two weeks ago. The Cassells-like salad bar was good but I never liked the german style potato salad.

                                                    BJ's in Burbank has a good burger. Last week they gave it to me medium rare as requested but tonight it was served to me well even though I asked for it med rare. It's a 1/2 pounder or so and thick.

                                                    Cheesecake factory burger is really good. I'm talking about the bigtop burger that replicates a big mac but is much bigger and meatier.

                                                    Gorikee in Woodland hills has a great thick burger and they served it to me rare a few weeks ago. Interestingly sweet and garlicy. I'm going to eat another one of those next week when I have some time to drive out there.

                                                    In and Out is always good. Not thick but if you do a four by four it's a bunch of meat and cheese.

                                                    Mmmm, burgers are my favorite food when not eating sushi. Darn if the doctor didn't say I have to lower my cholesterol last week........

                                                    David 248 total cholesterol and counting....down?

                                                    1. re: DavidSL
                                                      t
                                                      TomSwift Oct 14, 2004 01:09 PM

                                                      Gorikee's burger is a killer. The secret is the combination of condiments, especially the chutney. It's big enough for two (Patrick says to order it split but not to tell anyone). Paired with those garlic fries I'm a happy guy. AND they'll cook it for you rare, with nary a care about PC health concerns.

                                                2. re: Burger Boy
                                                  m
                                                  martyR Oct 12, 2004 08:22 PM

                                                  The problem with the Bucket is it can take an hour to get your order.
                                                  I really like Pie & Burger in Pasadena by Caltech.
                                                  You can actually get a pretty good burger at any of the Houstons.

                                                  1. re: martyR
                                                    s
                                                    Suebee Oct 12, 2004 10:29 PM

                                                    Second the Pie n' Burger..mmm - love that buttery bun!

                                                    1. re: martyR
                                                      b
                                                      Briggs Oct 12, 2004 11:40 PM

                                                      Unless it's changed - super well done only.

                                                    2. re: Burger Boy
                                                      e
                                                      Ed Oct 12, 2004 09:45 PM

                                                      Fatburger will not do rare, or anything less than medium-well, for that matter.

                                                      1. re: Ed
                                                        b
                                                        Burger Boy Oct 12, 2004 11:31 PM

                                                        I am sorry, you are right, but damn it was good.

                                                        Jays Jay Burger also has a chili, cheese, bacon and egg that is guarnteed to take 1 month off your life expectancy.

                                                        1. re: Burger Boy
                                                          b
                                                          Briggs Oct 12, 2004 11:39 PM

                                                          Jay's IIRC, is also a thin, Tommy's like patty. It's the kind of burger that serves as an accoutrement for the chili.

                                                          1. re: Briggs
                                                            b
                                                            Burger Boy Oct 12, 2004 11:41 PM

                                                            i am not talking rare, sorry, justy going on a few recent transedental expereinces of late

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