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Total Carnage! Gourmet Burger Battle – 26 Beach vs. Umami vs. Father’s Office vs. Golden State vs. Morton’s vs. Anisette vs. Lucky Devils vs. 25 Degrees vs. 8 oz vs. Rustic Canyon! [Review] w/ Pics!

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exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 04:32 AM

(Formatted with All Pictures here:
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2010/04/total-carnage-gourmet-burger-battle-26.html

April 11, 2010 - The following is the last written account of a tragic burger expedition across Southern California by its last survivor. What started out as a fun topic over drinks, soon turned into a "Burger Throwdown" involving a bunch of L.A. foodies, which then turned into a giant black hole from which no one could escape from.

I shall attempt to document the carnage and devastation left in the wake of this foolhardy and utterly stupid endeavor, in the hopes that if anyone reads this letter, that they may use this as a warning to never attempt something so ridiculous. It's a sordid tale, of massive rises in cholesterol intake, crying and weeping amidst accusations of one person causing someone else to gain weight, broken relationships, cell phones going straight to voicemail, all to track down a piece of Beef stuck between some Bread. :)

[Some Time Ago...]

It began so simply, so innocuously. Some dear (former :) friends and I were enjoying drinks when someone asked, "OK. Best Burger in L.A.?" And then the restaurant names began to fly: "Father's Office!" "Umami!" "Anisette" and after everyone started to defend their picks, we realized the only way to settle this was to have a "simple" Burger Battle. It was easy enough - or so we thought - we would simply meet up and try the ~3 - 4 places that were thrown out and vote for our favorites.

Ah, if things were only that simple. :)

I threw out one ground rule that we had to visit each place at least 3 times, to make sure of consistency, and to give each restaurant a 2nd chance in case we hit them on an "off day."

But then the list of 3 or 4 places soon grew to 11. One of my Burger Hounds quickly blurted out, "Psh! No problem! This should be fun!" And we all dove in headfirst, with none of us realizing the magnitude of what we signed up for. The first few locations were wonderful: People enjoying a burger or two, some drinks, and then off to the next place, and the next place. But one by one, people began to magically "disappear" and drop out. The next day (or two) for repeat visits yielded even fewer survivors of this absurd culinary exploration, until finally only one person remained.

29 combined visits and hundreds of miles later, I am sorry to say that this culinary battle has ended in failure: My judges have fled and dropped out, and none of us were able to complete the 33 visits. Oh if only we had a Chestnut or Kobayashi in our group! Sigh... So without further ado, I present to you the incomplete list of results:

(Note: While we all know that food is completely personal and subjective, it's even more obvious here. One person may hate Blue Cheese, while another may not like Garlic. Someone may dislike Avocados or a certain Dressing on their Burger, which all influences what your own personal favorite burger might be. So please take this with a grain of Sea Salt. :)

* 10th Place *
25 Degrees (Hollywood)

Located within the gorgeous Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, walking to 25 Degrees feels like you're traveling back in time to another era.

I've always wanted to try 25 Degrees, but hearing Woolsey, rednyellow, and numerous friends of mine warn me about various problems with this place, had caused me to never bother going, until now. (For completeness sake, most of us agreed that 25 Degrees had been talked about enough in burger discussions that it deserved a try.)

The decor in 25 Degrees is certainly unique and standout: They tout themselves as "Bordello meets Burger" and that pretty much sums up what the interior looks like. :)

Looking over the menu, it's clear that 25 Degrees is the antithesis of Father's Office in terms of Burgers: Unlike Father's Office, 25 Degrees encourages patrons to "Build Your Own Burger" with an impressive array of choices (13 different Cheeses (with choices like an Organic Red Hawk Cow's Milk Cheese, or Emmi Gruyere from the Swiss Alps), 13 different Sauces, and 13 different Extras to pile on). That's a big part of its appeal (like a "gourmet The Counter"). They also have 3 Specialty Burgers that are their own creations, which is what we went with.

"Number One" Burger (Caramelized Onion, Prelibato Gorgonzola, Crescenza, Bacon, Arugula, Thousand Island)
Price: $12
Customizable: Yes
Includes: 1 Side Order (Huge)

The first bite immediately leads to disappointment: Their Brioche Bun is extremely dry. The combination of Arugula and Bacon are great additions, but it turns out they cooked my Sirloin patty to well-done (a travesty) when I specifically asked for medium-rare. :( We also perform the mopeyboy / Harry Nile Test :) of trying the Beef itself, without any toppings, and it's surprising to see how tasteless some Burgers turn out to be. Sadly, this is one of those places, as the well-done Sirloin tasted pretty flavorless. Beyond that, there's too much Thousand Island and the combined size of the top and bottom Buns make this really hard to eat without smashing it down or cutting it into pieces. It seems like my experiences echoed that of Woolsey and other friends who warned me about this place.

The one positive is that their Burgers include 1 free Side, and it's positively Claim Jumper-esque: Gigantic! The following picture is of my 1 free Side: Half & Half of Onion Rings and Sweet Potato Fries. It's enough to feed 2-3 people (along with a Burger).

The Onion Rings turn out to be nicely seasoned with Salt & Pepper, and have a great crispy crunch. The Sweet Potato Fries, however, taste completely flat and muted; probably the worst Sweet Potato Fries I've had in the past year. :(

Finally, their infamous Service problems showed up during our visit as well: Apparently we caught our waitress just as her shift was ending (we had no idea). After taking our drink order, when she came back, we told her we were ready to order, only to be brushed off with a curt "I'm not taking your order now" (with an apathetic, slightly perturbed look on her face as she walked off). We then saw an entire group of servers start filing out of the kitchen, leaving the restaurant. Since 25 Degrees is open 24 hours a day(!), it's understandable and expected to have some waitstaff be tired or just not up to par, but her attitude was really off-putting.

Being able to fully customize your Burger with premium toppings is 25 Degrees' greatest strength. Add to that, the fact that it's open 24 Hours A Day, 7 Days A Week, and it's probably one of the best Burger joints in L.A. at 4 a.m. by default. But serving overcooked Burgers (well-done instead of medium-rare) and having huge, dry Buns and too much sauce makes this the least favorite Burger in this battle. (It doesn't help that parking during most of the day is difficult along that part of Hollywood Blvd. But they offer valet parking for $7.)

*** Rating: 6.0 (out of 10.0) ***

25 Degrees (Hollywood)
(inside the Roosevelt Hotel)
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
Tel: (323) 785-7244

Hours: Open 24 Hours A Day, 7 Days A Week

http://www.25degreesrestaurant.com/hollywoodlocation.html

* 9th Place *
Lucky Devils

Just down the street from 25 Degrees, Lucky Devils claims to make everything from scratch.

This is another place a few of us had heard much about, but none of us had ever been. On today's visit, I had the pleasure of having my 'dachi Noah of Man Bites World join me. As we peruse the menu, I'm getting excited as I see them advertise the usage of Snake River Farms American Kobe Beef (which local Yakiniku restaurants have been using to great success), as well as Tallgrass 100% Grass-Fed, Natural Beef.

In keeping with their name, Lucky Devils has a playful devil motif running throughout the restaurant. They also offer one of the oddest menus I've come across for a Burger joint, selling BBQ Ribs, Pizza, Belgium Liege Waffles and Frozen Custards.

We decide to start off with a Ballast Point Yellowtail (California), a Pale Ale that turns out to be surprisingly bitter, although very crisp.

The Affligem Blond (Belgium) turns out to be much more refreshing and slightly sweet, bitter and citrus-y.

With 2 types of Beef patties available, we decide to start with their signature burger:

The LUCKY Burger (with Tallgrass Beef) (White Cheddar, Crisp Lettuce, Red Onion, Super Secret Sauce, 5 Pepper Green Tomato Relish, Toasted Brioche Bun)
Price: $8.50
Customizable: Yes
Includes: No Sides

The first thing we notice is the absolutely monstrous Bun. Lucky Devils' Brioche Bun turned out to be the tallest, thickest Bun out of all the finalists. Undaunted, we continued on (I personally couldn't wait to try a gourmet 100% Grass-Fed Beef Burger (the only other time I had Grass-Fed Beef was a huge disappointment)). Sadly, their LUCKY Burger turned out to be cooked until well-done! (>_<) Ugh. (Note: We were the only table in the restaurant at the time, so it's not like the kitchen was backed up.) Even worse, this Tallgrass Beef turned out to be flavorless by itself, when stripped away of any adornments and secret sauces. Definitely a disappointment. But the final nail turned out to be the enormous Brioche Bun they use: Their Brioche has a really thick outer crust (like a bad, chewy Dinner Roll), and it's dry, so it really detracted from our enjoyment of their Burgers.
However, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, so on a 2nd visit, I asked the waitress about their LUCKY Burger and how they prefer to serve it. She said, "Our kitchen likes to serve it medium-well(!)." Shocked, I asked why, and she said that because their patty is so thin, they can't hit medium-rare and properly cook it. Oh well. I asked this time to make a special exception and try to have them prepare a medium-rare or medium cooked Burger.

Thankfully, they were able to come through, and, now with a ~medium, almost-medium-rare Grass-Fed Burger, I gave it another try: This time, their LUCKY Burger was definitely better, juicier and more enjoyable (instead of eating well-done Beef like the 1st visit). But tasting the Beef by itself, there still wasn't any real depth of beefy flavor.

And their "Super Secret Sauce" (with Thousand Island as a base) still tasted too manufactured and composed. It just overwhelms the palate, hiding the Beef patty instead of supporting it. And their super-thick, dry Brioche Bun was still the same as last time. :(

Of the remaining 3 flavors offered, we decided to skip the stronger-flavored BBQ and Diablo flavors since we wanted to focus on the quality of the Beef, and decided to go with their:

Bacon Bleu Burger (with SRF American Kobe) (Swiss Gruyere, Bleu Cheese, Double-Smoked Bacon, Caramelized Onion, Wild Arugula, Roasted Garlic Aioli & Toasted Brioche Bun
)Price: $14
Customizable: Yes
Includes: No Sides

The Brioche Bun seemed even thicker on this Burger. :) Working through the super thick Bun, we both felt this was so-so. On paper the ingredients sound great, but in execution the Bacon Bleu comes out too saucy and wet. There's too much Roasted Garlic Aioli slathered on, and the dripping Caramelized Onions, melted Gruyere and Bleu Cheese all combine to make this one of the messiest Burgers during this Burger Battle.

Thankfully, their Kobe Burger is medium-rare, and with the Beef-Only taste test, there's a nice subtle, fragrant Beef aroma coming through, but when eaten with the 2 Cheeses, Garlic Aioli and all the other ingredients, the flavor is completely lost.

Service is pretty straightforward: You order at the counter up front, and grab an open table. Service was generally quite friendly and welcoming (the best part of our experience).

Lucky Devils seems to have all the ingredients for a good neighborhood Burger Bar: 14 Beers on Tap, Grass-Fed Beef and American Kobe (as well as Shelton Farms Turkey and Veggie) Burger options, in addition to offering some BBQ, Pizza and Liege Waffles. But their super thick, dry Brioche Bun, inconsistent cooking for their Burgers and overly complicated Sauces / Dressings undermine the overall Burger experience. But if I was hanging out with my friends in the area, I think I'd enjoy their Bacon Bleu Burger with American Kobe, with No Aioli and No Bleu Cheese; that might do the trick.

*** Rating: 6.5 (out of 10.0) ***

Lucky Devils
6613 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
Tel: (323) 465-8259

Hours: Sun - Thurs, 11:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Fri - Sat, 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. Midnight

http://www.luckydevils-la.com/

* 8th Place *
8 oz. Burger Bar

From Executive Chef Govind Armstrong and Chef de Cuisine Jacob Wildman comes 8 oz. Burger Bar, a casual neighborhood eatery along the most popular stretch of Melrose. As we walk in, I fall in love with their weathered, old-looking wooden sign "8 oz." and the relaxed atmosphere inside.

Their philosophy of using only hormone-free, humanely raised meats and local produce are all commendable. Their 8 oz. and Melrose Burgers use a combination of Hormone-Free Black Angus Sirloin, Chuck, Tri-Tip and Short Rib, ground in-house, and aged in their own meat locker. It sounds very promising, so we can't wait to try their version of Aged Beef.

We start with their signature Burger:

The 8 oz. Burger (House Blend, Iceberg, Pickle, Tomato, White Onion, 8 oz. Special Sauce)
Price: $10
Customizable: Yes
Includes: No Sides

I remember when 8 oz. first opened up, there were quite a few complaints about how overly thick their Burger Bun was. I didn't get a chance to try that original Bun, but this current Bun seems to be better than what people were saying (and less cumbersome than Lucky Devils' giant Bun).

The 8 oz. arrives medium-rare (joy! :), with the Bun being a bit dry, but not like 25 Degrees or Lucky Devils. The first few bites are juicy, and the Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato and 8 oz. Special Sauce (a combination of Thousand Island, Ketchup and Mustard) helps give this a "Classic Burger" taste. But sadly, there are a few pieces of gristle that are so chewy I had to spit it out. And despite claims of the House Blend Beef being Aged in their meat locker, the Beef by itself had no taste, tasting more like fresh-ground Beef instead of a true Dry-Aged or Wet-Aged Beef.

They also offer a Grass-Fed Burger on the menu, so we try that next:

Estancia Grass Fed Beef Burger (Tomato, Onion, Pickle, Charred Escarole, Roasted Mushrooms, 8 oz. Special Sauce)
Price: $9
Customizable: Yes
Includes: No Sides

I'm secretly hoping this 3rd time trying a Grass Fed Beef Burger is going to yield something distinct and different from Non-Grass-Fed Beef, and I love Mushrooms, so I eagerly dig in.

As I notice the Sesame Seed Bun quickly disintegrating, I'm suddenly hit with a nauseous wave of char. My friends do a double-take as well, and sure enough, it's the "Charred Escarole." I've had Charred Escarole with some Tasting Menus before, but it was nothing like this. This is more like "Blackened Charcoal," tasting completely, badly burnt *and* with a lighter fluid / gas tinge to it as well. But after scraping off all the Burnt Escarole, the Mushrooms and Grass-Fed Beef combine to make a much more palatable creation.

The Estancia Grass-Fed Beef is cooked to medium, almost-medium-rare, and actually has a light, subtle beefiness (finally). But with the thin, flimsy Sesame Seed Bun that turned to mush before we finished eating the Burger and completely Burnt Escarole, this Grass-Fed Beef Burger falls short.

On another visit, I decide to try their:

Melrose Burger (6 oz. House Blend, Wild Baby Arugula, Garlic Roasted Tomatoes, Red Onion Marmalade) (+ Cave Aged Gruyere)
Price: $9
Customizable: Yes
Includes: No Sides

Unfortunately, on this 2nd visit, their Sesame Seed Bun is even drier than the 1st visit. It also disintegrates faster than we can finish the burger. One of my most discerning Burger Hounds tries it, and immediately notes that the Bun "tastes like something you can buy at Ralph's." The Angus House Blend patty arrives ~medium-rare and by itself, has no taste like before. But there is a nice char on the outside (perfect), which gives it a good, light smoky, open-grill facet.

But the highlight would have to be their Garlic Roasted Tomatoes and Red Onion Marmalade, both of which really give the Burger a natural sweetness and mouth-pleasing delicious quality that stands out from other restaurants' overly complicated toppings. Delicious. :)

Service is a bit slow-moving, but decent, with our servers being generally amiable. 8 oz. also offers up the ability to completely customize your Burger with their "Make It Your Own" option, where you can choose different Sauces, Cheeses and Extras to put onto the Burger.

8 oz. Burger Bar has a nice, lively vibe with some great Burger customization options. However, their actual House Blend Beef patty disappoints, while their Estancia Grass-Fed Beef actually has some subtle beefy flavors coming through. Add their problematic Buns (dry Brioche and flimsy, fall-apart Sesame Seed) and hit-or-miss toppings (completely burnt Escarole, wonderful Garlic Roasted Tomatoes), and it makes 8 oz. a decent Burger Bar if you happen to be in the area only.

*** Rating: 6.8 (out of 10.0) ***

8 oz. Burger Bar
7661 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Tel: (323) 852-0008

Hours: Mon, 12:00 p.m. Noon - 11:00 p.m.
Tues - Fri, 12:00 p.m. Noon - 12:00 a.m. Midnight
Sat, 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. Midnight
Sun, 11:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.

http://www.8ozburgerbar.com/

* 7th Place *
Umami Burger (La Brea) (Original)

Here we have the (in)famous Umami Burger, which debuted with a splash, only to face a growing wave of dissenters over the past year, while still gaining popularity (it has now expanded to 4 locations in less than a year(!)).

Created by Adam Fleischman (BottleRock), they tout themselves as "fine-dining fast food," and since their debut at the original La Brea location, they've always been offering a rotating menu of specially composed Burgers, each with their own distinct flavor combinations, which is probably the biggest appeal of this restaurant. We begin with:

Port & Stilton Burger (Blue Cheese, Pocas Port-Caramelized Onions)
Price: $9
Customizable: Deletions Only. No Additions.
Includes: No Sides

Umami uses a combination of USDA Prime Short Rib, Skirt Steak and Fat, ground in-house, for all their Beef Burgers. From my first visit last year, through the latest visits for this Burger Battle, each Umami Burger has always had a sweet / sugar aspect, due in no small part to their sweet, lightly glazed Brioche Buns.

For the Port & Stilton, the Beef patty is juicy, arriving medium-rare, but sadly, has no real beefy flavor (tasting the Ground Beef by itself). It also lacks any real char, for those looking for that aspect on your Burger. But the Port-Caramelized Onions are delicious, and the Stilton Blue Cheese is thankfully not very pungent in this combination.

Next up:

No. 5 Burger (Fresh Ground Pork Spiced with Chinese 5 Spice, Aged Manchego, Tomato Marmalade)
Price: $9
Customizable: Deletions Only. No Additions.
Includes: No Sides

The No. 5 Burger's Pork is too finely ground, resulting in a disturbingly creamy smooth texture to the patty. The Tomato Marmalade also completely overpowers the rest of the Burger, adding a massive sugary angle to every bite. The Bun itself is consistent with the previous Burger: Soft and sweet.

One of the more controversial aspects of Umami has nothing to do with their Burgers, but with the most popular side dish for a Burger: Their Hand Cut Fries (Triple-Cooked).

For some people, only seeing ~8 - 9 Fries for an order, with a sparse Tablespoon of Ketchup (you have to pay if you want more Ketchup than what's shown in the picture) is cause for uproar. I would agree that it seems a bit paltry, but that's how Umami chooses to sell their portions. Most of my Hounds agree that a few more Fries and just a bit more Ketchup wouldn't hurt.

They also offer up Cake Monkey Desserts, and we decide to try their Red Velvet Cake.

This Red Velvet Cake tastes like it's been sitting a bit too long. It's still creamy and lush at times, but has a strange aftertaste that we couldn't quite pin down.

On my 2nd visit, we start with their signature:

Umami Burger (Umami x 6)
Price: $10
Customizable: Deletions Only. No Additions.
Includes: No Sides

Their cryptic description "Umami x 6" is actually referring to the 6 Umami Flavors within this Burger: Parmesan Crisp, Caramelized Onions, Shiitake Mushroom, Oven-Roasted Tomatoes, Beef, and Special Ketchup.

On paper and in execution, those ingredients are inherently delicious, so it's a smart combination. But like before, the most important aspect - the Beef - is quite mild and flavorless. It's at least cooked medium-rare which is great, but the Burger itself is a bit underwhelming as their famous "signature burger."

Continuing on:

Casablanca Burger (Fresh Ground Leg of Lamb, Merguez Lamb Sausage, Pickled Apricots, Arugula and Pomegranate Aioli)
Price: $11
Customizable: Deletions Only. No Additions.
Includes: No Sides

The initial bite imparts a nice Lamb gaminess which is immediately overwhelmed by the Pickled Apricots and Pomegranate Aioli. I have no idea what the idea was behind the Casablanca Burger, but like too many of their offerings, it's just too sweet, except this one is by far the most sugary-sweet Burger I've ever tried. To make matters worse, the "Pickled Apricots" are applied in a thick Jelly-like form, turning the Casablanca Burger into a goopey, thick, saccharin mess. :( None of us wanted another bite after the initial 1-2 bites.

To add some balance to the amount of meat being consumed, we order a Market Salad, which turns out to be fresh Mixed Greens with a lightly spicy Peanut Dressing.

On another visit we start with one of their new items:

Turkey Miso 2.0 (Fresh Turkey Patty, Roasted Baba Ganoush, Toasted Garlic)
Price: $11
Customizable: Deletions Only. No Additions.
Includes: No Sides

The Turkey Burger is surprisingly aromatic and moist, with the Toasted Garlic being a great choice in this Burger (one of my friends doesn't like Garlic in general, so naturally they didn't turn out to be the biggest fan of this Burger). Unfortunately, the Brioche Bun is dry (unlike previous visits), and as before, they seem to enjoy a Sweet / Sugar angle on many of their creations: This Turkey Miso 2.0 had a thin, sweet glaze, which works in, say, Turkey Maple Sausage, but when you get a repeated sweetness flavor over and over, it becomes boring and overwhelming. Finally, there's no real Miso flavor either.

Perhaps in answer to customers' feedback, Umami recently added Thin Fries to the menu, which features many more individual Fries than the usual Hand-Cut Fries option. They turn out to be nicely crispy, but way too salty.

The next Burger comes highly recommended from our server:

Truffle Burger (Italian Truffle Cheese, Truffle Glaze)
Price: $11
Customizable: Deletions Only. No Additions.
Includes: No Sides

I'm a little wary of this Burger since I'm usually not a fan of Truffle Oil (and at this price, I don't think Umami is actually using any real Truffles in the Burger :). But it turns out to be a very juicy, oozing Burger, with the Truffle Cheese melting quite nicely over the Beef. The Beef itself is medium-rare, but as before, devoid of any deep, beefy flavor. And disappointingly, there's no perceptible Truffle aroma or taste at all.

Finally, one of the newer additions to the menu has proven to be one of the most popular items:

Manly Burger (Beer-Cheddar Cheese, Smoked Salt Onion Strings, Bacon Lardons)
Price: $11
Customizable: Deletions Only. No Additions.
Includes: No Sides

This is probably their most successful Burger (for our group), despite the flat-tasting Beef, mainly due to the smoky, flavorful Bacon Lardons, Smoked Salt Onion Strings (that are crispy, greasy and bursting with flavor), and a juicy center.

While the Burgers are generally average in terms of flavor combinations, the worst part about Umami (La Brea) is their service. Over 4 visits, I've encountered some of the worst service I've had in a restaurant since the late night staff at Denny's years ago (shudder). Every visit has been marked by extremely slow, apathetic service, with 2 of the visits feeling like we were being served by a stereotypical "part-time actor/waiter," with drinks being forgotten, our sides being forgotten, and painfully slow pacing (it took them 10 minutes to get us menus on one visit).

Umami Burger (La Brea) certainly has its legions of fans. With wonderful-sounding creations on the menu, each Burger option being crafted into a distinct flavor profile (a Manly Burger, a Miso Burger, Casablanca Lamb Burger, etc.), it's easy to see its appeal. It's a way to get more than 1 or 2 fixed Burger flavors, while still taking the headache out of customizing your Burger, by offering a rotating menu of ~8-9 specialty Burger Combinations constantly being updated in a clean, stylish environment. But it falls short for most of us in the group because there's no real Beefiness to the patty itself, and an overly sweet facet seemed to permeate most of their Burger offerings.

*** Rating: 7.3 (out of 10.0) ***

Umami Burger (La Brea) (Original)
850 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: (323) 931-3000

Hours: Mon - Sat, 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sun, 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.

http://umamiburger.com/

*** Note: This halfway point marks a distinct jump in the quality and execution of the Burgers. I'd be glad to return to any of the places from 1st - 6th. (^_^) ***

* 6th Place *
26 Beach

I've driven by 26 Beach so many times, but never had the chance to try their menu. But after years of hearing westsidegal and Burger Boy sing its praises, and Burger Boy's enthusiastic recommendations for their Burgers, this one was definitely going on the list. :)

The interior of 26 Beach reflects the whimsical and laid-back vibe of Venice in general. During both of my visits, there's a cheery ambiance permeating the dining room.

Glancing over the menu, I'm worried since it's so expansive, but considering 26 Beach has been around for over 25 years, they've probably had sufficient time to grow their menu to this size. And considering their website shows Chef-Owner Francis Mori about to chow down on a Burger, I'm guessing that Burgers might be their specialty. (^_~) I have to start with their classic, signature dish:

The 26er (The Classic Hamburger with Lettuce, Tomato, Onions, Pickles, Mayo and our Special Dressing)
Price: $12
Customizable: Yes
Includes: French Fries or House Salad

The Burger arrives and looks impressive already. The size of the Bun looks troublesome at first, but when I go to pick it up, all my worries go out the window: Soft, fresh-baked Burger Buns, made on the premises! Wow. :)

I bite into the 26er: Juicy, clean, light, *real* beefy flavors come shining through. This tastes like a great, classic American Hamburger, nothing like the runners-up before this. There's nothing that can rival a Fresh-Baked Bun (made that day, in the same kitchen), and I can see why Burger Boy loves this Burger so much. :) Light, fragrant, soft, but still holds up to the Burger without disintegrating.

It's cooked to a perfect medium-rare, with a satisfying char from the grill. This is just a good, classic Burger. My only quibble is that the hand-formed, 100% Angus Beef's flavor is still only subtle, but that's to be expected with a fresh (non-Aged Beef).

What's even nicer, is that for the price ($12), it includes some of the most shatteringly crispy, delicious, piping hot French Fries I've had so far during this Burger Battle. Delicious. :)

But it's their next Burger that's even more impressive:

King Kobe the IV ("8 ounces of the best Wagyu Beef, married with Applewood Smoked Bacon, Imported Swiss Cheese, Baby Mixed Greens, Heirloom Tomato & Red Onion with Mayo on our Homemade Brioche Bun")
Price: $17
Customizable: Yes
Includes: French Fries or House Salad

Taking the first bite, I could tell Chef Mori knows about Burgers and how to prepare them. Unlike the travesty that is Lucky Devils' Bacon Bleu Kobe Burger, here, Chef Mori lets the subtle, delicate American Kobe Beef shine, unfettered by overpowering Sauces or unnecessary additions.

The Homemade Brioche Bun is as amazing as on their 26er, soft, fresh-tasting Bread that holds up surprisingly well to the 8 ounces of Kobe. Most importantly, the medium-rare American Kobe Beef shines here: A real, good beefiness. For Non-Aged American Kobe Beef, this is about as good as it gets. The Applewood Smoked Bacon is great and still crisp, and the gentle delicate Heirloom Tomato, Mixed Greens and Swiss actually complement the Burger instead of covering it up.

The only minor quibble to note is that the menu simply lists this as "the best Wagyu Beef", which is misleading since Wagyu is the proper, famous term for Japanese Beef from Japan. But given the price, you pretty much know it's not going to be real Wagyu Beef from Japan, but it's still the best "Kobe Burger" I've had in So Cal. :)

On my 2nd visit, I decide to start with their special Burger of the Day:

Wild Mushroom Burger (Angus Beef, Sauteed Shiitake, Crimini & Portobello Mushrooms, Grilled Onions, Swiss Cheese, Baby Mix, Tomato & Mayo)
Price: $17
Customizable: Yes
Includes: French Fries

I'm happy to bite into yet another fresh, in-house-made Brioche Bun, soft, fragrant and a great match for the Burger. I love Mushrooms as well so I can't wait for the flavors of the 3 types of Mushrooms to blend with their 100% Angus Beef. The Mushroom mix is wonderful with Shiitake and Portobellos known for their distinctive, wonderful aromas. Unfortunately the Burger arrives ~medium to medium-well (in some parts), when I asked for medium-rare. It's not well-done, but the slight overcooking detracts from an otherwise good Burger.

For fun, I remember hearing the recommendations for their Veggie Burger, so I had to try this as well:

Namaste "Veggie" Burger (Vegetarian Patty made with Grains, Legumes & Vegetables. Served with Mayo, Heirloom Tomato & Mixed Baby Greens)
Price: $12
Customizable: Yes
Includes: French Fries or House Salad

I order it with their Homemade Wheat Bun (to try the full "healthy" experience :). I appreciate that this is a homemade Veggie Patty, not a manufactured / heavily-processed Veggie Patty found in many places, but it's a little too mushy for my tastes. There are distinct chunks of Peas, Corn and a nice Grain / Wheat flavor coming through, but it's probably not going to be something I'd order again.

They provide a generous serving of their House Salad, included with the Burger. The House French Dressing is a touch too sweet for my tastes, but otherwise it's a good House Salad.

Service has been good on both visits to 26 Beach, no issues.

One of the pleasant surprises during this food crawl, 26 Beach and Chef Mori create some excellent, classic Burgers, with ingredients and toppings that support the Angus and American Kobe Beef, which help bring out some real Beef flavors, all topped with great Homemade Burger Buns made fresh daily in their kitchen. While there are other Burgers that I enjoy more, I'd be more than happy to eat a Burger from 26 Beach if I'm in the area. :)

*** Rating: 8.0 (out of 10.0) ***

26 Beach
3100 Washington Blvd.
Venice, CA 90292
Tel: (310) 823-7526

Hours: Mon - Fri, 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sat, 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sun, 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.

http://www.26beach.com/

* 5th Place *
Anisette Brasserie

By now, I'm sure you're as incredulous as I am, wondering what a French Brasserie is doing in this Gourmet Burger Battle. :) This is one of those examples of the horrific black hole that this failed culinary expedition has become. I remember 2 years ago when hrhboo was gushing over Anisette's Burger. At the time, my guests and I couldn't help but order their more classic French items (Duck Confit, their wonderful Plateaux de Fruits de Mer, Croissants, etc.) and I kept forgetting to try their Burger. But just as we were locking down the finalists for this Burger Battle, Mr. Meatballs of Man Bites World had to chime in, nonchalantly mentioning the great Burger at Anisette. Ack! (~_~) That, coupled with hrhboo's strong recommendation made me add Anisette to the pool of competitors and I'm so glad I did. :)

By now, most people have heard of Anisette Brasserie, opened by Chef Alain Giraud (of Bastide fame). It's a gorgeous location sitting near Santa Monica Beach, relaxing and inviting during the day, rowdy and crowded at night.

Sitting at their beautiful Zinc Bar, I quickly place an order for their:

Brasserie Burger (Angus Beef, Oven Dried Tomatoes, Pickled Onions, Aioli, Pomme Frites)
Price: $16
Customizable: Yes
Includes: French Fries

Ostensibly, it looks like a naked Burger, but it's precisely the simplicity of it that makes it shine. Anisette begins with USDA Prime Angus Beef. I take a bite and break through a wonderful, fresh-baked Bun by Pastry Chef Noubar Yessayan, baked on the premises daily. Like 26 Beach, there's nothing quite like fresh-baked Buns instead of having them brought in. It's not as soft as a great Brioche, but it's a substantive Bread, holding up well against the big Angus patty.

And then I break into the USDA Prime Angus Beef. Cooked perfectly medium-rare, there's a true, clean, pure Beef taste coming through. The Prime Angus is nuanced and seasoned well. Add to that a great sear and char, some fresh Butter Lettuce from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market just next door, fragrant Oven-Dried Tomatoes and just a kiss of Aioli (no ridiculous over-slathering of sauces here), and you have a celebration of Beef. It's subtle, light, beefy and it shines.

Their Pomme Frites (included with the Burger) are rail-thin, crispy with a soft interior and well-seasoned. Nothing amazing, but a good combination with the Burger.

Note: Sadly, I discovered too late that Anisette offers an *Upgraded* Brasserie Burger for Dinner Only, which includes Pancetta (mmm...!). There's also an option to add different Cheeses for $1 extra (Lunch and Dinner).

Service was excellent whenever we went to Anisette (from their Grand Opening and on), but I haven't been back for almost a full year. But during this Burger Battle, the service was spot-on, with a friendly, relaxed waitstaff.

Anisette Brasserie has always delivered some outstanding fresh-baked Pastries, good French Brasserie cuisine for Brunch and Dinner during my previous visits. Now, they have an excellent Burger that I can enjoy as well when I'm hanging out with my friends at the beach. :)

*** Rating: 8.3 (out of 10.0) ***

Anisette Brasserie
225 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel: (310) 395-3200

Hours: [Brunch] Sat - Sun, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
[Lunch] Mon - Fri, 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
[Dinner] 7 Days A Week, 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

http://www.anisettebrasserie.com/

* 4th Place *
Morton's The Steakhouse (Downtown L.A.)

I've always known Morton's is famous for their steaks, but I would've never thought to have tried them for their Burger, if it wasn't for David Kahn and ipsedixit's repeated recommendations about their Burger. :) I used to enjoy Morton's for steaks before I tried better steakhouses, but it was nice walking back into Morton's after a few years. Entering Morton's feels like a throwback to the days of big dinners and celebrations, where business deals were closed with a handshake and a bottle of wine.

It's classy, professional, and after taking down our names, our server addressed us personally throughout the meal, a nice touch. We were here for one thing, and one thing only:

Morton's Prime Burger (Choice of Horseradish Cheddar, American, Swiss, Crumbled Blue or Cheddar; Crisp Bacon, Sauteed Mushrooms and/or Onions)
Price: $15
Customizable: Yes
Includes: French Fries, Cole Slaw, Steamed Asparagus or Broccoli

The Prime Burger arrives and it looks fantastic. I pick it up and take a bite:

Awesome.

Seriously outstanding! (^_^) Made with Wet-Aged, 100% USDA Prime Sirloin Beef, it shows from the first bite: There's a real, honest-to-goodness Beefiness, and taking a bite of the Beef by itself it's just delicious, well-seasoned Beef, and puts to shame Umami and the other contenders above. The Sesame Seed Bun is strong enough to stand up to the Burger, and Morton's lets you add Bacon, Sauteed Mushrooms *and* Sauteed Onions to your Burger, free-of-charge.

And as I was biting into the Burger, I noticed an eye-roll-inducing crispy, crackly crunch: *Freshly Cooked Bacon*(!). This had to be a fluke. I revisited Morton's a 2nd time at the very end of their Lunch Hour (on purpose) to see if it still held true:

Yes. Freshly Cooked, Crisp, Succulent Bacon, cooked *for your order*! Oh yes! :)

As I was leaving, I asked our server and they confirmed that Morton's cooks Fresh Bacon for each Burger's order, not batch made like the majority of restaurants. Wow. That right there elevates the Morton's Prime Burger a few notches. :)

But back to the rest of the Burger: The combination of the fresh Tomatoes, Onions, Sauteed Mushrooms, Melted Cheddar and Crisp Bacon, along with the impeccable 100% USDA Prime Sirloin Beef with great searing creates the best Classic American Burger I've ever had in a restaurant. And it was cooked to a perfect medium-rare during both of my visits.

A word about their Fries as well: Crispy on the outside, fluffy and potatoey on the inside. Not too thick, not too thin, these are *great* Steakhouse French Fries that perfectly complement this great Burger. (And for the health conscious, Morton's offers up complementary Steamed Asparagus or Broccoli instead if you like; which is great.) :)

Service is what you'd expect at a good Steakhouse: Crisp, professional, personable.

Morton's The Steakhouse (Downtown L.A.) provides a stunning Burger experience: It shows what great quality, Wet-Aged 100% USDA Prime Sirloin Beef can do, without any fancy Carrot Foam or 4-Cheese, Faux Truffle Emulsion toppings, cooked by Steak experts. The only negatives about this experience are: (1) Served Lunch Only. (2) It can be a hassle fighting through Downtown traffic to get here (but I'm sure the other Morton's locations may provide a similar experience). But regardless of that, this is the best Classic American Hamburger I've ever had. :) (Thanks ipse & David Kahn! :)

*** Rating: 8.8 (out of 10.0) ***

Morton's The Steakhouse (Downtown L.A.)
735 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Tel: (213) 553-4566

* Morton's Prime Burger Served during LUNCH ONLY *

Hours: Mon - Fri, 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
(They open for dinner, but I'm not listing their hours to avoid confusion.)

* Note: They offer Free 3 Hour Parking (w/ Validation) in the secured Earnst & Young 777 Parking Structure behind their restaurant.

http://www.mortons.com/losangeles/

* 1st Place (TIE) *
Father's Office (Los Angeles)

At this point, it almost feels like a trendy, mainstream, sellout move to vote for the Father's Office Burger, but after visiting all these Burger specialists around L.A., the majority of us came to the same conclusion: It's just *that* good. But there are some caveats (which is why it wasn't the clear-cut winner).

Originally opened in Santa Monica by Chef-Owner Sang Yoon, Father's Office opened up a larger, more spacious 2nd location on Helms Avenue in Los Angeles. Father's Office offers an impressive, rotating array of Craft Beers on Tap, with some excellent seasonal brews from time-to-time.

Father's Office has become infamous for its No Substitutions / Alterations policy regarding its food (as well as kicking people out for smuggling in condiments from time-to-time (since they don't serve Ketchup)). Everyone in our group had already been to Father's Office at least once, but as a follow-up after trying the other burgers...

The Office Burger (Caramelized Onion, Bacon, Gruyere, Maytag Blue, Arugula)
Price: $12 (includes tax
)Customizable: No
Includes: No Sides

First things first: The Father's Office Burger is *not* for everyone. I have some friends who simply can't stand Blue Cheese, but if you want to try the Father's Office Burger, you're stuck with it (or you scrape it off). Besides that, its greatest strength - Dry-Aged, Niman Ranch Beef - is also its greatest weakness for some people. There are plenty of people who have never experienced a great, Dry-Aged Steak, and as a result the funky, pungent, intense beefiness one tastes in a Father's Office Burger can turn some people off.

But back to the Burger: Taking a bite... The Office Burger is a wild, unconventional, unique creation. It's out-of-control, yet at the same time totally in control: It's a brilliant, powerful, alternate interpretation of the "Hamburger" done in Chef Sang Yoon's vision. My favorite part of the Burger is the truly intense, potent beefiness (more than any Burger we tried in this battle) from the Dry-Aged Niman Ranch Beef. No other Burger we tried during the battle came close for this flavor.

Add in the combination of Gruyere and Maytag Blue Cheese to up the funk quotient even more, but mellow it out with the Bacon Onion Compote and plenty of spicy, peppery Arugula on a dryish French Roll, and you have Sang Yoon's Burger.

But there are some issues that should be noted: The French Roll is dry and a disappointment for those looking for a more traditional Burger Bun (or something more moist than the dry Roll it's served on). It's very pungent, which can be a turnoff for some. And the inability to customize / change / adjust the Burger will definitely upset some people (rightfully so). Finally, many in the group agreed that it's not a Burger they can have every day.

Service has been hit-or-miss at Father's Office (Los Angeles): You order at the Bar, and then find an open table if you can. Placing the order has been fine, but getting any help from the busboys / servers that bring out the food can be a crapshoot. One time I simply wanted an extra plate (since my guest and I were sharing food), and the busboy glared back at us for daring to ask for anything. Very weird. Their extreme rules and strict adherence to those rules have turned off many a customer and some great Hounds like bulavinaka.

Father's Office (Los Angeles) can be extremist at times, "Soup Nazi-esque" in its rules, and their Office Burger may not be for everyone, but it shines brightly for its creativity and uniqueness, and for me, it still comes across as the most distinct Burger in L.A.

*** Rating: 9.0 (out of 10.0) ***

Father's Office (Los Angeles)
3229 Helms Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Tel: (310) 736-2224

Hours: Mon -Thurs, 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Fri - Sat, 12:00 p.m. Noon - 12:00 a.m. Midnight
Sun, 12:00 p.m. Noon - 10:00 p.m.

http://www.fathersoffice.com/

* 1st Place (TIE) *
Rustic Canyon

Located along a quiet stretch of Wilshire, Rustic Canyon has always been at the back of my mind; a place I've heard good things about, but just never get around to going to. But after hearing two strong recommendations for their Burger from Noah and Mr. Meatballs, I realized this was yet another place that needed to be added to this Burger Battle. :)

Currently helmed by Chef Evan Funke, Rustic Canyon represents one of those casual, warm, hidden eateries that just puts out excellent, simple cuisine with Farmers' Market fresh ingredients. Hearing the potential that this might be one of the best Burgers in L.A., I purposely wrangle the biggest Father's Office groupie I know, to get their impressions along with my other guests. :)

We begin with a Burrata Panzanella (Roasted Tomatoes, Artichokes, Green Olives, Pickled Ramps, Green Garlic).

After all the Burger eating, I can't tell you how happy I am to see something vegetable-based. :) I was merely looking for some respite from all the meat, but instead Chef Funke delivers a refreshing Spring breeze of goodness: The creamy, light Burrata playfully bathes this Farmers' Market Panzanella and you're treated to an invigorating, revitalizing dish of bright, flavorful vegetables that's delicate, fragrant and without reproach. Excellent! :)

And then our Burger arrives:

Meyer Ranch Burger (Sharp Cheddar, Onion Fondue, Bread and Butter Pickles, Herb Remoulade
)Price: $16
Customizable: Yes
Includes: Hand-Cut French Fries

It looks gorgeous, and then we take a bite: A deep, beefy savoriness comes shining through! Wow. I can't resist the urge to inhale the rest of my Burger. It has such a beautiful bovine essence that isn't as pungent as Dry-Aged Beef (ala Father's Office). It turns out that Rustic Canyon uses USDA Prime All-Natural Angus Beef from Meyer Ranch, with Beef that is Certified Humanely Raised and Handled, which is a big positive for some.

In addition to the amazing Beef, the Bun tastes strangely familiar to another favorite of mine: Rustic Canyon uses a Rockenwagner Brioche Bun (similar to The Golden State), which is soft, seemingly delicate, but still holds up pretty well with the juicy Burger. The Sharp Cheddar, Onion Fondue, Pickles and Herb Remoulade all complement the Meyer Ranch Burger, never taking center stage.

It's cooked to medium-rare and is such a revelation that our Father's Office groupie blurts out, "Oh my gosh! This is the Best Burger in town! I like it more than Father's Office." :) It's close, but I was in as much shock as my dazed friend. :)

But maybe the planets were aligned perfectly or something, so to make sure, I returned for a 2nd visit to see if the Burger was as amazing as the 1st time I had it.

The Meyer Ranch Burger looks even more amazing this second time.

I eagerly pick up the Burger, and take a big bite: It's as juicy and magnificent as before. Again, it's not the piercing funk of the Dry-Aged Father's Office Burger, but it stands out in its own genuine beefiness that's more enveloping on the palate. I am simply shocked by how good this Burger is.

The Hand-Cut Fries that come with the Meyer Ranch Burger are crispy, with a soft center, blanched first and then fried. On both visits, the Fries are seasoned just right. But it's their Garlic Aioli Dipping Sauce that deserves special mention. For Garlic lovers out there, it's the most amazing burst of Garlicky Creaminess in a Dipping Sauce. Wonderful! :)

Service has been outstanding on both visits, with our servers being amiable and helpful.

Rustic Canyon meets and exceeds my expectations with their wonderful Burrata Panzanella and the amazing Meyer Ranch Burger. The only negatives for this Burger is that Rustic Canyon is only open for Dinner, they're usually quite busy and crowded, and the $16 price tag feels a bit steep for some in our group. But otherwise, Chef Funke has delivered a Burger with real beefiness that's less extreme than the Father's Office Burger, but also more enjoyable. Add in a beautiful, relaxed, casual yet stylish vibe, and Rustic Canyon becomes a destination for one of the best Burgers in L.A.

*** Rating: 9.0 (out of 10.0) ***

Rustic Canyon
1119 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel: (310) 393-7050

Hours: Sun - Thurs, 5:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Fri - Sat, 5:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

http://www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com/

* 1st Place (TIE) *
The Golden State

The Golden State is one of those places that many of us have taken for granted. On paper, how can this little, casual eatery sitting across from the amazing Animal belt out one of the best Burgers in L.A.? The answer is still a mystery, but lies somewhere between expert cooks that perfectly nail the temperature for a medium-rare Burger every single time, to a tight, focused menu that allows the kitchen to focus on making those few dishes great, to the dedication and passion for great food by its owners, Jason Bernstein and James Starr, along with Chef Rene Garcia.

On a recent visit, I'm excited to hear that they have the amazing Raspberry Yuzu Gelato from Scoops and Gelato Master Tai Kim. I quickly peruse their latest Beer Menu to see if they also happened to get in The Bruery's Hottenroth Berliner Weisse on Tap, but sadly they don't. Instead, they just got in New Belgium La Folie, which is hands down, *the* sourest Sour Beer I've ever had. :) It's impressively wild and tart, so I decide to start with a Beer Float to see if Scoops can tame this Sour Beer:

Beer Float: Scoops Raspberry Yuzu Gelato + New Belgium La Folie

The Raspberry Yuzu does seem to calm things down quite a bit, but the La Folie still manages to take over the spotlight, but it makes it much more palatable this way, although not as perfect as the winning Beer Float Competition combination of Berliner Weisse + Raspberry Yuzu.

But we're here for the Burger and we quickly order it:

The Burger (Harris Ranch Beef, Fiscalini Farms Cheddar, Glazed Applewood Smoked Bacon, Arugula, Housemade Aioli & Ketchup)
Price: $10
Customizable: Yes
Includes: 1 Side Order (Jalapeno Cabbage Slaw, Potato Salad, French Fries, Persian Cucumber Salad, Fried Sweet Potato Wedges)

Most of us have had The Golden State Burger before, but retrying it for this battle, I pause and take a bite:

A pure, true, juicy, beefy quality comes shining through from their Wet-Aged Beef. Add on a great sear and char, giving the Beef even more flavor, and the smoky, porcine Applewood Bacon and touch of bitterness from the Arugula, all wrapped up in a soft, lightly sweet Brioche Bun from Rockenwagner, and this turns out to be, unassumingly, one of the most satisfying Burgers around town. It's outstanding in its balance. (^_^)

But what's even crazier is that, as good as their regular Burger is, their Lamb Burger is even better:

The Golden State Lamb Burger (Colorado Lamb, Gruyere, Arugula, Applewood Smoked Bacon
)Price: $12
Customizable: Yes
Includes: 1 Side Order (Greek Salad, Jalapeno Cabbage Slaw, Potato Salad, French Fries, Persian Cucumber Salad, Fried Sweet Potato Wedges)

Served only on Thursday nights, the Colorado Lamb is gorgeous in its fresh, light gaminess, while still being juicy and a perfect medium-rare. Like the regular Burger, there's a very good sear, and the spicy, peppery Arugula with Dill and Yogurt and the light touch of sweet from the tender Rockenwagner Bun make this my favorite Lamb Burger in town. :)

Service is pretty straight forward: You order at the counter, take a number and grab a table, and the food is brought out to you.

The Golden State appeals to many of us due to its accessibility - super casual eatery, not as crowded as Rustic Canyon and F.O. - and ability to consistently execute a great, humble Burger that delivers the best balance of good beefy flavor, delicious Bacon, fresh Arugula on a lightly sweet, fresh Brioche Bun. It's not as intensely beefy as a Father's Office Burger, but like Rustic Canyon, The Golden State's Wet-Aged Beef delivers a rounder, lighter, but still healthy beefiness. Factor in the very fair price - $10 including one of their excellent Sides (their Potato Salad is fabulous) - the ability to also try the daily changing flavors of Scoops from Gelato Guru Tai Kim, and an outstanding Draft Beer Selection that changes weekly, and it's easy to see why I can't stop going to The Golden State. :)

*** Rating: 9.0 (out of 10.0) ***

The Golden State
426 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: (323) 782-8331

Hours: Tues - Sun, 12:00 p.m. Noon - 10:00 p.m.
Closed Mondays.

http://thegoldenstatecafe.com/

Final Thoughts: A Great Burger is a personal thing. Everyone has their own benchmark and what may taste great to one person's palate may not be as delightful for someone else. Someone may not eat Pork, so the inclusion of amazing Bacon becomes a non-factor for that person's ideal Burger. Another person may hate Blue Cheese (as is the case with many people I know), so the Father's Office Burger isn't the be all end all for them. And then there are expectations. I know someone from South Orange County who drove up to L.A. for the Father's Office experience. Can you imagine the level of expectations after a 3 Hour Drive (round trip)? Is it worth it? Only each individual can answer that question.

After surveying only a fraction of the many great Gourmet Burgers offered up here in L.A., in the grand scheme of things, we're blessed with many great options. Here are some final individual awards:

* Favorite Classic American Burger: Morton's The Steakhouse Prime Burger
* The Beefiest Burger (for Flavor): Father's Office Office Burger
* Favorite Everyday, Enjoyable Burger: The Golden State & Rustic Canyon

In trying to track down that "Perfect Gourmet Burger," I'm reminded of what Anthony Bourdain said to the East Coast Food Blogger on an episode of No Reservations: "C'mon! It's just a *BLEEP*in' burger!" (^_^) Everyone has their favorite Burger; something that speaks to them personally and that's the most important thing. In hindsight, I should've enlisted more Guy Hounds to help with the eating duties. On second thought, this absurd Burger Battle should have never been started. No human being should ever attempt to consume as many Burgers as our group tried to do. I hope that if anyone reads this, they can save themselves and their loved ones from repeating this tragedy. As I begin to blackout, I vow to never eat a cursed Burger again! Veganism is sounding pretty good... pardon me for a second...

* [Phone Rings] *
* Burger Hound A: "Lamb Burger Night at Golden State! And they just got in Firestone Walker XIII!"
* Me: "Sweet! 9:00? See you there!"

(^_^)

-----
25 Degrees Restaurant
7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Rustic Canyon Wine Bar
1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

26 Beach
3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

Arnie Morton's the Steakhouse
735 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017

Lucky Devils
6613 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Father's Office
3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034

Anisette Brasserie
225 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401

Umami Burger
850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Golden State
426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

 
 
 
 
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  1. e
    exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 04:35 AM

    Attaching more Pics. For all remaining Pictures, please see Link in Original Post above. Thanks!

     
     
     
     
    2 Replies
    1. re: exilekiss
      m
      msmerymac Aug 4, 2010 01:55 PM

      I actually quite like Lucky Devil's. However, that might be because 1) The have the best veggie burger in LA (26 ingredients) and 2) I'm a condiment whore. Anyway, the veggie burger is very flavorful. It definitely has beets (it's bright red), but doesn't taste too beet-y for me. It comes with cheddar, caramelized onion and special sauce, and I usually add avocado.

      I agree about 25 degrees. I was not impressed. Much more impressed by the Counter, frankly.

      -----
      Lucky Devils
      6613 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

      1. re: msmerymac
        e
        exilekiss Aug 4, 2010 03:51 PM

        Hi msmerymac,

        Thanks for the info on their Veggie Burger. If the cheese is left off of it, do you know if their Veggie Burger is also Vegan?

    2. DrBruin Apr 13, 2010 07:16 AM

      Great mega-review! My cholesterol shot up 20 points reading it. I wish I could've gone although I'm sure my wife would NOT have been happy.. How long did it take you to make it through all these different places? (If you do have a second burger review, it'd be more feasible to go to a place twice instead of three times....to avoid burger fatigue.)

      I see you mentioned "The Counter" but didn't review it. Any reason it didn't make the list? Or, if you've been there, where roughly would it pop up?

      4 Replies
      1. re: DrBruin
        e
        exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 09:29 AM

        Hi DrBruin,

        Thanks. :) I don't even want to think of where my cholesterol is at. :( (My friends who survived the longest with me on this challenge won't speak with me any more. :)

        How long? I have mentally blocked out this Burger Battle in the hopes I can heal the emotional scars that it's caused. :) It's all a blur at this point.

        Re: The Counter - I actually went 4 times so far, and while I appreciate their super-customization, I felt their actual Beef patty didn't really pop. They're fine Burgers if I'm in the area and had a choice between them or Fast Food or Mainstream Chains. Also if everyone in our group had the metabolism and eating power of a Kobayashi or Joey Chestnut, then sure, we would've added The Counter (and a few more potential Burger places to this list (^_~)), but in the end we failed... :)

        1. re: exilekiss
          j
          Jack Flash Apr 13, 2010 12:42 PM

          What a wonderful, exhaustive, and thoughtful primer on the L.A. burger scene. I haven't been to most of these places yet, except for Morton's. For my money, it's probably the best burger deal I've had.

          One thing that jumps out at me is that it seems fairly obvious that many of these newfangled burger joints are more about appearances than substance. It's obviously trendy now to offer up grass-fed beef, and I applaud the movement; but it's equally obvious that almost none of these places actually understand grass-fed beef and how to cook it. You can't cook grass-fed beef at the same temperature as grain-fed. The fat melts at a lower temperature. So, you have to cook it for less time, and at a lower temperature, in order to cook it properly. It should never be cooked past medium. I buy grass-fed beef at the Pasadena farmers' market, and the purveyor provides excellent literature on how to cook it. You might actually like it, and enjoy it's unique flavor, if it were cooked by someone who knows what they're doing. The 3 best burgers I've had recently have been the ones I've made at home with grass-fed beef, cooked on a griddle, 2.5 minutes per side (1/3 lb. patty).

          1. re: Jack Flash
            e
            exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 02:26 PM

            Hi Jack Flash,

            Thank you for the kind words. I couldn't have done it without all my fellow Hounds' help and advice! :)

            And thanks for your thoughts on Grass Fed Beef. I was pretty bummed at all the Grass Fed Beef Burgers I tried. I've read and heard so much about how wonderful it is (like your own account), and yet the 3 Grass Fed Burgers I've tried on this list were all pretty underwhelming or, perhaps as you say, overcooked. I'll have to look up the literature and try to stop by the Pasadena Farmer's Market.

            Which vendor at the Farmer's Market do you recommend? Thanks.

            1. re: exilekiss
              j
              Jack Flash Apr 13, 2010 02:57 PM

              There's only one meat vendor at the market. These folks. http://californialowlines.com/OurBeef...

              Their business name is "Dey Dey's Best Beef Ever." They have every cut of beef. Ground beef comes either in approx. 1 lb. packs or as patties. The packs are $7/lb. Not cheap, but to me it's worth the premium over supermarket stuff. It's all single-animal (i.e., your package of ground beef comes from only one cow; most ground beef is comprised of meat scraps from any number of animals). Theirs is about 15% fat content. They stand by their product, and even go so far as to recommend trying it as steak tartar. Tells me they are very confident in both their cattle and their processor.

              If you go there, they're more than happy to talk all about their operation, the breed of cattle they raise, how to cook, and the various benefits of grass-fed beef.

      2. ipsedixit Apr 13, 2010 08:02 AM

        Weak!

        Bone up dude, and pick a winner. None of this 3-way tie for first place. :-)

        Great review as always. Thanks for the legwork.

        11 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit
          b
          Burger Boy Apr 13, 2010 08:48 AM

          Easy, Easy ipsedixit. Can't we all get along in this wonderful burger universe?

          1. re: ipsedixit
            e
            exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 09:31 AM

            Hi ipsedixit,

            Hehehe. :) Thanks. And Thank You again for the great recommendation on Morton's! It was seriously one of the biggest surprises of this Burger Battle, and I'm so glad to know I have a place to get an amazing Burger if I'm in Downtown (or Beverly Hills :).

            BTW, have you had the Morton's Burger at more than 1 location? Just curious if all the So Cal locations are as consistently great as Morton's (Downtown L.A.). Thanks.

            1. re: exilekiss
              ipsedixit Apr 13, 2010 10:08 AM

              Hey exilekiss,

              Glad you enoyed the Morton's find. Sadly, I've only been to the downtown LA Mortion's. Being a chain, however, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a certain level of consistency across all or most Morton's.

              I'm also a big fan of Golden State and now I *have* to try their lamb burger.

              By the way, have you ever tried Pie N Burger? Maybe it's not technically a pure gourmet burger, but then it's not exactly a fast-food, diner burger either. Sort of hews the fine line between gourmet and regular, I guess ...

              -----
              The Golden State
              426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

              1. re: ipsedixit
                e
                exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 02:28 PM

                Hi ipsedixit,

                Thanks. You simply must try the Colorado Lamb Burger at The Golden State on Thursday night. I love it! :)

                Pie N Burger? No I haven't. I've heard it mentioned in various discussions in a battle with Apple Pan, and figured it was more like the flat top grilled "fast food / diner" style Burgers. The next time I'm in the area, I may have to give it a try.

                Do you like it more than Morton's Prime Burger? Thanks.

                1. re: exilekiss
                  ipsedixit Apr 13, 2010 03:35 PM

                  Pie N Burger is definitely not in the Morton's category. That said, it's still a fine burger -- better than a diner creation but not necessarily gourmet.

                  Not worthy of a special trip, but if you're in the area ...

                  FWIW, it used to be a favorite of Matthew Broderick ...

                  1. re: exilekiss
                    m
                    mrhooks Apr 14, 2010 01:15 PM

                    It's flat top grilled, which for my taste is a shortcoming (another reason why I have little interest in Umami Burger). Otherwise, it's really good, although I can't call it the best, especially since I haven't been to many of the places you reviewed.

                    Great review, BTW. I'm especially interested in trying The Golden State now. And I'm not surprised FO came out on top-ish, even if I think it's somewhat overrated (but I'm mostly meh about blue cheese).

                    Where should we donate for the exilekiss quadruple bypass fund?

                    1. re: mrhooks
                      m
                      mc michael Apr 14, 2010 01:26 PM

                      I'm ruminating on what exilekiss' epitaph should be.

                      1. re: mc michael
                        Servorg Apr 14, 2010 01:35 PM

                        "He turned bleu..His buns fell off..Now he's round in the ground - RIP" ;-D>

                        1. re: Servorg
                          b
                          Burger Boy Apr 14, 2010 01:38 PM

                          Oh Servog, stick to food reviews & blogging. I think your future in epitaph's is not so good.

                  2. re: ipsedixit
                    c
                    cls Apr 13, 2010 02:30 PM

                    I used to have the Morton's burger in O.C. (lunch only) and it was great. Also agree that the hatch from Umami is the best that I have tried from them.

                    -----
                    M Restaurant - Hotel Metropole
                    205 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704

                    1. re: cls
                      e
                      exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 06:19 PM

                      Hi cls,

                      Thanks for the report on Morton's O.C. Looks like I have a place for a great Lunch Burger the next time I'm visiting my OC Hounds. :)

              2. JEN10 Apr 13, 2010 08:04 AM

                That is dedication E!!! Thank you for your burger report. May I ask, how much weight did all of you gain?

                1 Reply
                1. re: JEN10
                  e
                  exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 09:33 AM

                  Hi Jen,

                  Thanks. :) You have brought up the sorest point in this tragedy. I don't want to think about this or speak of this, lest my friends who went with me never speak to me again. :)

                2. s
                  samtron608 Apr 13, 2010 08:45 AM

                  damn it..i now have a major craving for a juicy burger and its not even 9am yet!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: samtron608
                    b
                    Burger Boy Apr 13, 2010 08:49 AM

                    Fatburger with an egg? 26 beach has a breakfast burger. Tommys will add an egg to their chili burger or get their breakfast sandwich with chili and all the fixins!

                    1. re: Burger Boy
                      e
                      exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 09:36 AM

                      Hi Burger Boy,

                      Wow, there's a Breakfast Burger at 26 Beach?? How does it compare to the 26er? :) And what comes with that Breakfast Burger? (Oh my gosh?! How can I be asking about more Burgers at this point?? Nevermind. :)

                      -----
                      26 Beach
                      3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                      Burger Boy
                      1650 S State College Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92806

                      1. re: exilekiss
                        b
                        Burger Boy Apr 13, 2010 10:44 AM

                        bacon, egg, cheese

                  2. b
                    Burger Boy Apr 13, 2010 08:46 AM

                    I thought I commented, maybe I forgot to post it. Here we go again. AWESOME job! I am sure you are all beefed out right now, have you been put on Lipitor yet.....LOL I have not been to Rustic Canyon or Golden State yet. Wow, really good thorough job. I think you should be doing reviews for A Hamburger Today http://aht.seriouseats.com/ really. Your understanding of the little things that make up the whole, bravo! I am sure you are all burgered out but next time you are near 26 Beach, this sounds crazy, I had it yesterday, A California Roll Hamburger, yes, a California roll on a hamburger patty. All the flavors are there, crab, ginger, wasabi, seaweed & beef, a surf & turf as it were, it is Crazy good. Anyway, I am sure you are about to puke at the sound of more beef, so again GREAT JOB! I bow to you.

                    -----
                    26 Beach
                    3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                    The Golden State
                    426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Burger Boy
                      e
                      exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 09:39 AM

                      Hi Burger Boy,

                      No, no, Thank *you* for the great suggestion on 26 Beach. That and Morton's are 2 of the biggest surprises for me during the battle. :) I love the fresh-baked Buns, and the King Kobe the IV (and the 26er). :)

                      Per your name, you definitely should give The Golden State and Rustic Canyon's Burgers a try at least once. I'd love to hear your thoughts on those 2.

                      That California Roll Burger sounds so wrong, but at the same time sounds pretty good. :) If I ever manage to look at any Burger again, I'll be sure to stop in and try it. :)

                      -----
                      26 Beach
                      3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                      The Golden State
                      426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                      Burger Boy
                      1650 S State College Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92806

                      1. re: exilekiss
                        b
                        Burger Boy Apr 13, 2010 04:46 PM

                        The California Roll Burger is really good!

                    2. m
                      manku Apr 13, 2010 09:45 AM

                      No Comme Ca? While I haven't tried it, JG thinks the world of it as have other posters here..

                      44 Replies
                      1. re: manku
                        e
                        exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 02:31 PM

                        Hi manku,

                        Comme Ca was on our "2nd List" of possible additional places to try. But after my supposed "foodie friends" started disappearing one-by-one over the course of this expedition :), I realized there was no way we'd ever survive making it out to any more restaurants, sigh. :(

                        Also while I heard many great recommendations for Comme Ca's Burger, I read a large number of dissenters as well, so it wasn't as high on the priority list. I'll definitely consider it for next time. Thanks!

                        1. re: exilekiss
                          Ciao Bob Apr 13, 2010 02:41 PM

                          You made a good choice, I found the Comme Ca burger to be a mayo-y mess!

                          1. re: Ciao Bob
                            Servorg Apr 13, 2010 03:50 PM

                            "I found the Comme Ca burger to be a mayo-y mess!"

                            That's the same sort of complaint (except it's about the bleu cheese and onion compote) that detractors have damned FO with for as long as I have been on CH (and we see how the FO burger finished in the comparo)... ;-D>

                            1. re: Servorg
                              mollyomormon Apr 13, 2010 04:09 PM

                              I sometimes sneak mayo straight from the jar, that's how much I love it, and even I found Comme Ca's burger too mayo-y!

                              Exilekiss is right that burger love is so subjective, but that said, the FO detractors really are crazy ;).

                              1. re: mollyomormon
                                Ciao Bob Apr 13, 2010 04:28 PM

                                Sounds like you and I are looking for love in all the right places, mollyomoron!

                                1. re: mollyomormon
                                  ipsedixit Apr 13, 2010 04:38 PM

                                  It's odd, but I can never get used to the idea of mayo on a burger.

                                  I like mayo, generally speaking, but just not on a burger.

                                2. re: Servorg
                                  e
                                  exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 11:58 AM

                                  Hi Servorg,

                                  BTW, I've been meaning to ask for a while...

                                  * What are the mighty Servorg's favorite Gourmet Burgers in L.A.? :)

                                  1. re: exilekiss
                                    Servorg Apr 14, 2010 12:04 PM

                                    I've always ranked FO number one due to the quality of the beef (and recently the one at Golden State was right up there as a close second). After that I don't really have a top ranked contender . I still need to get to Rustic Canyon for their Monday "Burger Night" - (is that the night you went to RC?)

                                    1. re: Servorg
                                      e
                                      exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 06:21 PM

                                      Hi Servorg,

                                      Nice! :) You have great taste. (^_~)

                                      We actually had their Rustic Canyon Burger on nights other than Monday, sigh. But from what our waitress told us, their Monday Night Burger Night are 2 Monday Only Flavors + their Original Rustic Canyon Meyer Ranch Burger (served every day). Let me know what you think of the original and any other flavors if you go on Monday. :)

                                      I'd go and report back, but I'm on Burger Recovery for the next few months. :P

                                3. re: Ciao Bob
                                  e
                                  exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 06:20 PM

                                  Hi Ciao Bob,

                                  Thanks for the warning. What are some of your favorite Gourmet Burgers in LA? :)

                                  1. re: exilekiss
                                    Ciao Bob Apr 13, 2010 07:08 PM

                                    Truthfully, I am not much of a burger fiend, my friend. My grilled meat of choice would not be ground beef, no way. When I crave grilled meat it is steak, Korean BBQ, carnitas a la plancha, or yakitori/izakaya offerings. Hell, I like most tsukune a lot more than most burgers!
                                    That said, I have loved the Umami Burger (Umami x 6) and a Triple Pork Burger that Umami had when they opened. And I like Father's Office but find the bread to be overwhelming and disappointing. I have sat next to many a friend who loves Rustic Canyon's burger while I (happily) ate other things from the menu. It sure looked good.

                                    -----
                                    Umami Burger
                                    850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                    Father's Office Bar
                                    1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                    M Restaurant - Hotel Metropole
                                    205 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704

                                    1. re: Ciao Bob
                                      e
                                      exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 09:39 PM

                                      Hi Ciao Bob,

                                      I'm with you. :) Yakitori / Yakiniku, mmm... :)

                                4. re: exilekiss
                                  t
                                  troublemaker Jun 21, 2010 04:00 PM

                                  Exile,
                                  A point of suggestion when you embark on the Comme Ca burger. I think I'm in the minority on these boards but I absolutely love their burger. I'm a fervent FO dissenter and have converted many a companion to this burger. But back to my initial point -- order the burger rare. This is a burger whose profile changes completely dependent on temperature of cooking. The few times I ordered it MR I vowed never to falter from eating it rare. I believe that's how it's meant to be eaten. When I took a group of friends here for lunch and our entire table ordered it rare, the server came back and said the chef applauded us and that is how he eats his.

                                  1. re: troublemaker
                                    mollyomormon Jun 22, 2010 12:57 PM

                                    My problem was that when I ordered it rare, that was not how it was cooked. Maybe I need to revisit it.

                                    1. re: mollyomormon
                                      t
                                      troublemaker Jun 22, 2010 04:58 PM

                                      Molly -- I would say that if you order it rare, you definitely know the patty is rare. Essentially there's a distinct beefy/salty char/crust on the outside, while the interior patty is a beautiful juicy red. When you bite into the burger there's this wonderful chew to its texture, almost more substantial than a patty and something closer to a cross between a burger and steak tartare. You completely lose that secondary textural aspect when it hits MR. Oh man, writing this out just made me tummy rumble.

                                      But Molly, it also depends on what your ideal flavors are when it comes to burger. With the Comme Ca variation I think they concentrate on that sense of beefyness along with that rich aioli that apparently some people are not fond of.

                                      1. re: mollyomormon
                                        t
                                        troublemaker Jun 22, 2010 05:01 PM

                                        The only burger patty I've tasted so far to rival the beefy quality to the rare-version of the Comme Ca burger is probably at Golden State, though I'm trying to clear up some of my schedule to hit up Rustic Canyon in the coming weeks.

                                        -----
                                        The Golden State
                                        426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                        1. re: troublemaker
                                          e
                                          exilekiss Jun 23, 2010 12:57 PM

                                          Hi troublemaker,

                                          I love Golden State's Burger. :)

                                          I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on Rustic Canyon's version if you get a chance to try it. Let us know how it turns out; it was a real surprise for me.

                                      2. re: troublemaker
                                        e
                                        exilekiss Jun 23, 2010 12:56 PM

                                        Hi troublemaker,

                                        Thanks for the recommendation and the Rare idea. Comme Ca was one that was on my "2nd list / Backup list" but all my "friends" started dropping like flies and we couldn't finish the entire expedition. :)

                                        I'll have to give it a try when I break my Burger Fast. Thanks!

                                        1. re: exilekiss
                                          b
                                          bulavinaka Jun 23, 2010 01:05 PM

                                          >>but all my "friends" started dropping like flies and we couldn't finish the entire expedition. :)<<

                                          Hi exilekiss,

                                          I give you and your fellow burger hounds a ton of credit. I did an unintentional burger run this past weekend. Friday dinner was 26 Beach with their Calfornia Roll Burger, and Saturday lunch was Bite's first attempt at a good burger. If my family would have chosen to eat another burger for dinner later that day or even that weekend, I probably would have instead hidden in a closet with a green salad.

                                          1. re: exilekiss
                                            b
                                            Burger Boy Jun 23, 2010 01:06 PM

                                            This is the perfect weekend to break your burger fast! No time like the present! DO IT! Get out there and Eeeaaaattttttttttttttttttttttttttttt ! ! !

                                            1. re: Burger Boy
                                              e
                                              exilekiss Jun 23, 2010 09:41 PM

                                              Hi Burger Boy,

                                              Stop tempting me! :) I may break my Burger Fast once I hear from you how 26 Beach's Chocolate Fudge Burger is. (^_~)

                                              -----
                                              26 Beach
                                              3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                                              Burger Boy
                                              1650 S State College Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92806

                                              1. re: exilekiss
                                                b
                                                Burger Boy Jun 23, 2010 09:52 PM

                                                LOL Almost there, almost....LOL The guy having one next to me said it was great and he had it with bacon! I am close. I just had the UFO last time I was there, they are also selling these HUGE, big surprise, root beer floats.

                                                1. re: Burger Boy
                                                  j
                                                  jadekarrde Jun 23, 2010 10:42 PM

                                                  ugh. I'm going tomorrow with family. I can't decide between teh california roll, fudge burger, pb&j, the ufo, or the wild mushroom. and I've already been twice. I'm someone that likes to eat his way through a menu when he finds a place this good, but the california roll burger is so insane and great that I have a feeling I may wind up buckling and ordering it every time I go.

                                                  and now I will HAVE to get a root beer float as well

                                                  nom nom nom.

                                                  1. re: jadekarrde
                                                    b
                                                    Burger Boy Jun 23, 2010 11:18 PM

                                                    Have the huevos that I do not have yet and order the fudge burger, but the UFO and the wild mushroom are so good also. If you had the KCRB (Katsu's CA Roll Burger) try something different! I don't know, Just Do It!

                                                    1. re: Burger Boy
                                                      mollyomormon Jun 24, 2010 12:50 PM

                                                      please, please order the fudge burger and report back! it sounds so vile but i'm incredibly curious as to whether it's actually good.

                                                      1. re: mollyomormon
                                                        k
                                                        kevin Jun 24, 2010 01:05 PM

                                                        i will try it in the interests of research, but i don't do bacon, so can i get it without bacon and mayo, ??? for some reason, their website is not updated, sadly, so their are none of the wacky burgers on there.

                                                        1. re: kevin
                                                          b
                                                          Burger Boy Jun 24, 2010 02:31 PM

                                                          these are new additions and some old ones, the UFO or the PB&J. I am sure no bacon or mayo is an issue with them, unlike the Burger Nazi's at some restaurants!

                                                          1. re: Burger Boy
                                                            j
                                                            jadekarrde Jun 25, 2010 01:16 AM

                                                            the Chocolate Sundae burger has Valhrona fudge, vanilla cream sauce and bacon. I don't believe there is any mayo on the burger. Our companion that ordered it really liked it, only ate half (typical for her) and declared it phenomenal if you're in the mood for savory and sweet, but that it was also intense, and she probably wouldn't order it regularly, though she would definitely order it again when she'd been craving something like that. I think people who like sea salt caramels and/or bacon chocolate combinations will love the burger.

                                                            I got the UFO which was really good. I made the mistake of trying to cut it in half which made it really messy and fall apart. I think there is supposed to be guac/avocado on the burger, mine didn't have it, and I definitely felt it was missing something. But I couldn't remember for sure if it needed it. I am next time going to ask my burger be cut in half before serving if I feel I should save half for later. The question of the meal was, "why is it called the UFO?"

                                                            For the first time ever in a restaurant, we took home the table bread. We went through nearly four baskets altogether (they replenished each basket once) and those of us taking home half a burger split up the bread left in the last basket. Third time at the restaurant and I'm going to declare this the best sourdough bread in los angeles, and one of the best crusts in los angeles, comparable to bay cities superb crackling crusts, but with a wheatier bread.

                                                            I ordered the rootbeer float special. Root Beer is served in a carafe. and accompanied by an enormously absurd mug that holds at least 1.5 british pints of ale. Or maybe it just looked bigger than a british pint because it was more than half full of ice cream? You add the rootbeer at your discretion, but that means it doesn't ever really float. Three scoops of ice cream the menu says, and I would say by volume it looked to be at least 1/3-1/2 a typical breyers carton of ice cream. The vanilla ice cream was good, the rootbeer was typical which made the whole thing disappointing. Even with Virgils (or TJs PHENOMENAL new house root beer they've started selling) this float would have been exceptional, and with a really great root beer it could really take off, the quality of the soda brings down the experience, and I feel like they should be playing with the concept of a float the way they play with the concept of burgers. (For example, how about a cream soda and hazelnut ice cream with a shot of espresso added (an affogato float?). Unfortunately, I discovered I was the only person at the table who likes root beer so I had the whole thing to myself. If anyone had wanted to share I'd have asked for six empty cups, filled them with rootbeer from the caraffe and then scooped the ice cream out to everyone, it could easily serve four, and conservatively could serve six. It's the most enormous drink I've ever been served. I wish I'd just got a beer instead.

                                                            Other burgers all seemed to be consumed with delight and gusto, I didn't sample all (or the sundae burger, sadly) but I did sample the hickory burger and the bombay burger again, the bombay really is a phenomenal burger, I think I may order it myself next time so I can consume the whole thing and rank it on the 26 beach scale. This time I got to appreciate how good the balance of spice, coconut and mango is in their curry, all three come through clearly and accent and improve the burger. The hickory seemed pretty ordinary, but the person who ordered it was raving it, so ymmv. The chicken parmesan sandwich was declared to be "AWESOME" by my younger sister. :)

                                                            1. re: jadekarrde
                                                              e
                                                              exilekiss Jun 25, 2010 03:12 PM

                                                              Hi jadekarrde,

                                                              Wow, nice report back. :) Thanks for some more insight into this Chocolate Sundae Burger. It sounds intense.

                                                              Bummer about the Root Beer Float. If you like Root Beer, and want a float, you might consider The Golden State. They have Virgil's Root Beer *on draft*(!) and it's SO good! It's crazy that they'd sacrifice one tap just for Root Beer of all things but I appreciate them for it. :)

                                                              You can then pair that with any flavors of your choice (rotated daily) of SCOOPS Gelato (awesome), which is a great feature of The Golden State.

                                                              Lastly, while you're there, you might give their Burger a try and see what you think. (Or if you show up Thursday Night, that's when they feature their Lamb Burger (lovely)). :)

                                                              -----
                                                              The Golden State
                                                              426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                          2. re: kevin
                                                            e
                                                            exilekiss Jun 25, 2010 03:07 PM

                                                            Hi kevin,

                                                            Thanks for offering. Burger Boy would know best about this, but I don't think they'd have a problem leaving the Bacon off the Burger. However, I would caution that if you're modifying this Chocolate Fudge Burger and removing components, it may skew what Chef-Owner Francis Mori had in mind in originally creating this dish. Just a note. :)

                                                          3. re: mollyomormon
                                                            e
                                                            exilekiss Jun 25, 2010 03:04 PM

                                                            I second mollyomormon's plea. We need someone to satisfy our morbid curiosity for this Chocolate Fudge Burger. :)

                                                            1. re: exilekiss
                                                              b
                                                              bulavinaka Jul 31, 2010 06:32 AM

                                                              Guinea Pig here - I tried the Chocolate Fudge Burger a couple of weekends ago, and it was surprisingly good. Poster jadekarrde's description of the burger is pretty much it. The vanilla sauce acts more like a sweet mayonnaise (think Miracle Whip made by Willie Wonka); the chocolate fudge is deep, dark and rich (fundamentally a rudimentary molé); and the bacon, well, bacon goes with everything, right? The bacon's smokey saltiness adds another dimension to the burger, countering the vanilla sauce and pairing nicely with the chocolate fudge. I think without the bacon, the burger would be cloyingly sweet. The bacon is optional, but I can't imagine not ordering this burger without it.

                                                              Like the California Roll Burger, it can be quite a challenge to eat with one's hands. Fork and knife works for me, but YMMV. My wife and two kids sampled this burger as well (somewhat reluctantly at first) , and all were in amazed agreement that it worked.

                                                              Would I order it again? Sure, why not. Initially, it's kind of a weird taste sensation to have a couple of sweet components in a burger, but after a couple of bites, I got over this issue and just enjoyed the wonderful flavors. If one is not intimidated by some of the unusual and unique flavor combinations that typically come out of Asia, then trying the Chocolate Fudge Burger isn't much of a leap either.

                                                              1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                Servorg Jul 31, 2010 07:22 AM

                                                                "Would I order it again? Sure, why not."

                                                                The real question is; Would you seek it out? Would you specifically get in your car to go to 26 Beach to have one of these burgers? To me that's the test that sets apart the good from the great.

                                                                1. re: Servorg
                                                                  b
                                                                  bulavinaka Jul 31, 2010 01:35 PM

                                                                  I hear you. But at the same time, it's such an unusual twist on flavor and ingredient combinations. My more conventional burger mind is still in a bit of denial whether this is a proper thing to do with a hamburger, or conversely with Valrhona chocolate fudge and vanilla sauce.

                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                    Servorg Jul 31, 2010 01:57 PM

                                                                    "But at the same time, it's such an unusual twist on flavor and ingredient combinations."

                                                                    That's exactly the way I feel about a lot of the dishes I've had at Animal. And yet I dream about going again and again to devour them...

                                                                2. re: bulavinaka
                                                                  k
                                                                  kevin Aug 1, 2010 10:18 AM

                                                                  is the vanilla sauce made out of vanilla and mayo, together, or is? it just vanilla sauce?

                                                                  also, i forgot but the burger does not also arrive with a scope of vanilla ice cream on there or does it?

                                                                  1. re: kevin
                                                                    b
                                                                    bulavinaka Aug 1, 2010 12:55 PM

                                                                    The vanilla sauce is a true thick vanilla sauce. Its role in the burger is like a (as I mentioned) Willy Wonka-esque mayonnaise. No scoop of ice cream - sorry...

                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                      k
                                                                      kevin Aug 1, 2010 02:12 PM

                                                                      ok, so no mayo thickening the vanilla sauce? whew, ok, good, i was about to ask em to leave off the vnailla sauce, i don't really do mayo anymore except in potato salad.

                                                                  2. re: bulavinaka
                                                                    e
                                                                    exilekiss Aug 1, 2010 12:54 PM

                                                                    Hi bulavinaka,

                                                                    /applause. (^_^) Kanshashimashita!

                                                                    Thanks for trying it out and letting us all know about it. I would've tried it, but I'm still in my burger fast. :P Wow, this sounds unusual and yet delicious, especially the way you describe it. :)

                                                                    As a follow-up to Servorg's questions, out of all the 26 Beach Burgers, which ones are your favorites? (that you crave?) :)

                                                                    -----
                                                                    26 Beach
                                                                    3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                                                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                                                      b
                                                                      Burger Boy Aug 1, 2010 04:22 PM

                                                                      California Roll Burger, The Maytag, The UFO! I also like their new BBQ Chicken sandwich that has coleslaw on top of the chicken, really good and it come with potato chips that they make! I also noticed friday night that they are making a white sangria, it looked good but I had my Sapporo with my California Roll Hamburger.

                                                                      1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                        e
                                                                        exilekiss Aug 2, 2010 01:56 PM

                                                                        Hi Burger Boy,

                                                                        Nice! Sapporo with a California Roll Burger. :) All that's left is for you (and I) to try the Chocolate Fudge Bacon Burger soon. :)

                                                                        Would you say their Homemade Potato Chips are better than their Fries?

                                                                        1. re: exilekiss
                                                                          b
                                                                          Burger Boy Aug 2, 2010 09:12 PM

                                                                          I like the fries and the chips. I wish they offered the chips with some of the other sandwiches or burgers. A little lighter! I love the chips with the BBQ Chicken sandwich with the coleslaw on top, The Memphis Chicken sandwich or something.

                                                                          1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                            j
                                                                            jadekarrde Aug 3, 2010 10:56 PM

                                                                            I honestly don't know how I stay away from 26 Beach for as long as I do, I managed a month in between visits, went last weekend for brunch.

                                                                            Oh. My. God.

                                                                            I got one of their french toasts, mascarpone whipped with fresh ricotta, flavored lightly with fresh lemon served on top of the toast which has also been drizzled with a raspberry sauce and the whole thing topped with fresh blueberries. phenomenal.

                                                                            this place is almost as good at breakfast as it is at burgers.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            26 Beach
                                                                            3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                                                                            1. re: jadekarrde
                                                                              b
                                                                              Burger Boy Aug 3, 2010 11:37 PM

                                                                              Yeah baby!

                                            2. OCAnn Apr 13, 2010 09:53 AM

                                              OMG! Wow! I am indeed impressed, and Mr OCAnn would bow down to you with deep awe and respect. He *loves* burgers and I'm sure he'll want us to eventually try your top 3.

                                              As usual, good job & great review!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: OCAnn
                                                e
                                                exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 02:34 PM

                                                Hi OCAnn,

                                                Doumo! :) Whenever my OC Hounds visit me, great Burgers are one of the most requested destinations for one of our meals together. :) I would love to hear your thoughts on some of these Burger joints, especially The Golden State, Rustic Canyon and Father's Office. Please report back if you go. :)

                                              2. ChinoWayne Apr 13, 2010 09:56 AM

                                                You have died and gone to carnivore nirvana. Outstanding work.

                                                1. a
                                                  annapurna7 Apr 13, 2010 10:06 AM

                                                  WOW! That is some serious eats! My vote goes to the Office Burger as the #1 burger. :)

                                                  1. n
                                                    Nicole Apr 13, 2010 10:10 AM

                                                    WOW. Thanks for this mega-review, exilekiss. I was drooling looking at that Rustic Canyon burger, I've got to try it.

                                                    I have to say, I think 26 Beach should be moved down a couple of notches for its lack of consistency in cooking. You noted that on 1 of your 2 visits your burger came med-med well when you requested it med-rare. I had a similar experience there...husband and I each ordered the $17 Kobe beef burger, I request med-rare and he request med, we both get med-well. It can be the best beef patty in the world, and you just can't really taste it when it isn't cooked properly. Compare this to somewhere like the Counter...the beef patty is not nearly the same quality, but it is consistently cooked properly. It may be heresy, but I would prefer a perfectly cooked $9(?) Counter burger to an over-cooked $17 26 Beach Kobe beach burger.

                                                    -----
                                                    26 Beach
                                                    3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Nicole
                                                      e
                                                      exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 02:38 PM

                                                      Hi Nicole,

                                                      Thank you. (^_^) If you're drooling now, wait till you try the Rustic Canyon Meyer Ranch Burger. I was as shocked as anyone. :)

                                                      Thanks for the report back on 26 Beach. Bummer! :( I was hoping my 2nd visit was just a fluke in terms of overcooking the Burger, but if you ran across a problem as well... they may indeed have consistency problems. I'll let Burger Boy chime in and see how often he's run across overcooked Burgers there.

                                                      I agree: Any place that serves an overcooked, well-done Burger should lose to a place that has lesser quality meat but can nail a perfect medium-rare / rare.

                                                      1. re: exilekiss
                                                        b
                                                        Burger Boy Apr 13, 2010 04:49 PM

                                                        I would be full of you know what if i said it is always perfect. Like any place sometimes I get a medium or a little more. What restaurant is 100% all the time. I am easy going and usually just eat my burger. There was only one time at 26 Beach i had a well-done burger and I sent it back.

                                                        -----
                                                        26 Beach
                                                        3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                                                    2. mollyomormon Apr 13, 2010 10:13 AM

                                                      This could be a contender for top 5 chowhound post EVER! Amazing work.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: mollyomormon
                                                        b
                                                        Burger Boy Apr 13, 2010 10:46 AM

                                                        I agree!

                                                        1. re: Burger Boy
                                                          A5 KOBE Apr 13, 2010 10:50 AM

                                                          By days end, I am guessing over/under of 65 posts. Any takers?

                                                          1. re: A5 KOBE
                                                            b
                                                            Burger Boy Apr 13, 2010 11:22 AM

                                                            do I have to pay juice also?

                                                        2. re: mollyomormon
                                                          e
                                                          exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 02:41 PM

                                                          Hi mollyomormon,

                                                          No no, there are far more wonderful posts on Chowhound (I still can't stop laughing at the Andouillette Post that Servorg linked me to from Burke and Wells. LOLOL. (^_^)

                                                        3. A5 KOBE Apr 13, 2010 10:13 AM

                                                          Did you double up on the Lipitor?

                                                          Nice stuff as usual!!!

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: A5 KOBE
                                                            e
                                                            exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 02:43 PM

                                                            Hi A5 KOBE,

                                                            It's not even funny. :) I've promised to go running with my friends as punishment for dragging them into this maelstrom of a food journey. Have you gotten a chance to try the places on this list? What's your favorite? :)

                                                            1. re: exilekiss
                                                              A5 KOBE Apr 13, 2010 11:29 PM

                                                              Yeah, I have tried mostly all of those on your list besides Rustic Canyon and 25 Degrees. My fave from this list in particular would have to be Morton's Prime burger.

                                                              My favorite in LA right now is the Steakburger at Wolfgang's Steakhouse.

                                                              Just wondering out of curiosity, how long did this take?

                                                              1. re: A5 KOBE
                                                                e
                                                                exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 11:23 AM

                                                                Hi A5 KOBE,

                                                                Nice. :) Do you know what type of beef they use at Wolfgang's?

                                                                Well if you're talking about from the very inception of the Burger hunt - the very first Father's Office Burger, or other Burger that spawned the love and interest in this endeavor... that's years in the making. :) For this specific run, it's a blur... I think over the course of ~4 days or so?

                                                                1. re: exilekiss
                                                                  A5 KOBE Apr 14, 2010 02:26 PM

                                                                  WoowOW, 4 days!!! Your are a burger machine.

                                                                  The beef at Wolfgang's is shipped from NY but the cattle is cornfed from the MidWest. I believe it is dry aged for 28 days the same way as their steaks.

                                                          2. Ciao Bob Apr 13, 2010 10:21 AM

                                                            Impressive EK, and quite fun to read as well! Great job.

                                                            1. BubblyOne Apr 13, 2010 10:26 AM

                                                              Thanks so much for all the effort! I think this is the most enjoyable review I've read so far on CH- I mean, who doesn't love a good burger? And you certainly have me wanting to head up from the beach to try a few of the places I haven't been. Thanks again!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: BubblyOne
                                                                e
                                                                exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 06:24 PM

                                                                Hi BubblyOne,

                                                                Thank you. :) At the very least you should give any of the Top 6 a try and let us know what you think. I think they're all places I'd be happy to return to.

                                                              2. k
                                                                kevin Apr 13, 2010 10:37 AM

                                                                i liked the office burger but after a few visits it was just too sweet to me (kinda like the umami burger but obvisouly not as bad)

                                                                that morton's burger is one of my favorites around town, great stuff.

                                                                i tried the golden state burger but thought it was nothing special, really nothing special.

                                                                of your pics, the best of the bunch would be morton's and office.

                                                                and it's good to know about the burgers at 26 beach which i still have not tried yet.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: kevin
                                                                  A5 KOBE Apr 13, 2010 10:41 AM

                                                                  I agree, love everything about the burger at Golden State beside the meat which made it mediocre at best.

                                                                  Meat was tough and did not have much flavor.

                                                                  1. re: A5 KOBE
                                                                    m
                                                                    mrhooks Apr 22, 2010 12:38 PM

                                                                    Weird, it was very soft, loosely-packed, juicy and very flavorful when I tried it this weekend.

                                                                    I thought the Golden State burger was excellent. However, I'm not a meat purist, so I would have loved more charcoal flavor mixed in with the beef. Also, I must admit to liking Lucky Devils' Diablo Sauce (though I prefer less than how much they usually put on). So my tastes are obviously different from EK's. But there was no doubt, the quality of the meat was very high.

                                                                    Their fries, OTOH, were just okay, though I prefer thinner fries, so maybe I'm not the best judge. If only they could make fries like Lazy Ox Canteen, which were by far the best fries I've ever tasted. I'm thinking of trying the Persian cucumber salad next time.

                                                                    1. re: mrhooks
                                                                      e
                                                                      exilekiss Apr 22, 2010 02:37 PM

                                                                      Hi mrhooks,

                                                                      Thanks for the report back. Glad to hear you liked their Burger. :) One side that has generally been a hit for me (3 out of 4 times I've tried) is their Potato Salad. When it's on, it's so simple, fresh and reminds me of home. The one time it was off, it was dried out (not enough Mayo) and kind of dull. But otherwise it was quite good.

                                                                      I'm going to have to try the Fries at Lazy Ox soon. Thanks for the rec. :)

                                                                      1. re: exilekiss
                                                                        b
                                                                        Burger Boy Apr 22, 2010 09:01 PM

                                                                        So it is inconsistent! Hummmmmmm So you are saying any restaurant can have an off day or moment and still be great? Right? Fair enough!

                                                                        1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                          e
                                                                          exilekiss Apr 23, 2010 04:56 PM

                                                                          Hi Burger Boy,

                                                                          Don't look at me! :) I *like* 26 Beach, and said in my review I'd be happy to return to grab a Burger (and I want to try that CA Roll Burger you're talking about when I recover (^_~)).

                                                                          I think most restaurants can and do have off-days, and you just hope that the restaurants that you go back to or enjoy the most have the least amount of off-days compared to their on-days. :)

                                                                          1. re: exilekiss
                                                                            b
                                                                            Burger Boy Apr 25, 2010 01:33 AM

                                                                            Just bustin your chops. A hard business to be in and be consistent. I worked at a place in Mammoth years ago and NIFDA did not deliver the Chung King eggrolls. The owners son, myself and the manager (who is now a big time restaurant owner in OC) figured how hard is it to make egg rolls. They were hated by everyone across the board.......LOL Dishwasher picked up by immagration. On time during lunch a gallon bottle of the salad dressing fell and it cover the flor in the area everyone had to pass through. Cooks don't show up, cooks get drunk and the hits just keep on coming. Lat time I was at 26 beach I heard a manager, I think, say to a server that he had to take one of the cooks to urgent care because he slashed open his hand. Can you imagine loosing a cook in the middle of your sunday brunch or a friday or saturday night, marone! Oh well back to the ball game!

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Chung King Restaurant
                                                                            1000 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                                  2. re: kevin
                                                                    a
                                                                    aizan Jul 2, 2010 05:57 PM

                                                                    i went to golden state for lunch and tried The Burger, medium rare. i also found it to be lackluster. the patty was moist and tender, but it wasn't beefy at all. the bacon fixes everything, though, like duct tape. *shrug*

                                                                    key points of golden state: good beer and gelato, casual, and a bargain.

                                                                  3. m
                                                                    mdpilam Apr 13, 2010 11:09 AM

                                                                    exilekiss, I love your reviews (and posts).

                                                                    I had thought about doing this, but never actually put it together (I have some flaky friends). I've still yet to try Morton's, Anisette and Rustic Canyon. But I was a bit surprised by Umami's rank. Oh well, different tastes I guess. But, I definitely think you should have had the Hatch Burger there, easily the best IMO.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: mdpilam
                                                                      b
                                                                      Burger Boy Apr 13, 2010 11:23 AM

                                                                      My problem with their Hatch burger is not enough chile flavor or heat. I have had them in N.M. and really loved them. Albertson's sells roasted Hatch chiles in the frozen section and I find those more flavorful.

                                                                      1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                        m
                                                                        mdpilam Apr 13, 2010 04:53 PM

                                                                        I agree with this; however, I still find it to be an amazing burger (and my favorite in LA). That's why I always tell people that are worried about it being spicy to get it, because it's not spicy.

                                                                      2. re: mdpilam
                                                                        e
                                                                        exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 06:28 PM

                                                                        Hi mdpilam,

                                                                        Thanks! Please do try Morton's, Anisette and Rustic Canyon and let us know how it went. :) Re: Umami, it's certainly not a "bad" burger at all, I respect what they're trying to do with different flavor profiles, but we all found the actual Beef patty (by itself, unadorned) to be surprisingly not very flavorful. The other ingredients are generally very bold / big flavors (e.g., Casablanca, Manly Burger, etc.) which really stand out, but the Beef itself is what had us disappointed. But that's what makes Food so great - everyone's palate is different and I'm glad to hear you found your favorite at Umami! :)

                                                                        I'll have to try the Hatch Burger next time I'm there.

                                                                      3. a
                                                                        attran99 Apr 13, 2010 11:35 AM

                                                                        Amazing, exilekiss! I can't believe you and your friends managed to try so many places. Thanks for narrowing it down for those of us who will never have the guts to repeat your adventure. I can't wait to sample Morton's and your 3-way tie for first place.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: attran99
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                                                                          exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 06:31 PM

                                                                          Hi attran99,

                                                                          Thank you. And I commend you and everyone for *not* attempting this horrific, absurd culinary exploration. :) Seriously, no one should endure this 33 visit challenge. :) Please report back on your visit to Morton's and the Top 3 places. :)

                                                                        2. wutzizname Apr 13, 2010 11:50 AM

                                                                          I've eaten burgers at all 11 of your spots (some on more than multiple occasions) and in general I'd say you've got the rough ranking right. Nice job.

                                                                          While lots of people will chime in with "what about..." suggestions, as someone who's rankings would share a similar order, I'd think the missing burgers that really should have a place on your list are Taylor's, and Nick & Stef's. If you haven't tried either, get thee quick.

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Taylor's Steakhouse
                                                                          3361 West 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90005

                                                                          Nick & Stef's Steakhouse
                                                                          330 S. Hope St., Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                          1. re: wutzizname
                                                                            e
                                                                            exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 06:33 PM

                                                                            Hi wutzizname,

                                                                            Very nice! I'm glad to hear your Burger rankings are similar. :) Thank you for the recommendations. I've been to Nick & Stef's before, but never for their Burger.

                                                                            Do you know if Taylor's and Nick & Stef's serve this for Lunch Only (like Morton's)? Or Dinner as well?

                                                                            1. re: exilekiss
                                                                              wutzizname Apr 14, 2010 12:40 AM

                                                                              As far as I know, yes, in true steakhouse fashion, both Taylor's and N&S only serve their burgers at lunch. But last I knew, Taylor's was a steal at $9.75 including a healthy portion of great steak fries. And Nick & Stef's are just $12 for a huge half-pounder with fries -- and just $10 at the bar during happy hour. It's possible that the burger is available at the bar throughout dinner, not sure, but not in the dining room as far as I know. Give 'em both a try.

                                                                              1. re: wutzizname
                                                                                e
                                                                                exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 11:28 AM

                                                                                Seeing as how I'm in full recovery / healing mode from all this damage... :)

                                                                                How would you rate Taylor's and N&S compared to Morton's? Thanks.

                                                                                1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                  wutzizname Apr 14, 2010 02:12 PM

                                                                                  To be fair, I've only tried Morton's (downtown) and Nick & Stef's burgers once each. Still... I found them to be fairly similar in principle, but when it comes to execution, the Nick & Stef's I had blew Morton's out of the water. Same giant half-pound size, but much more flavor and pitch-perfectly prepared. I found the Morton's burger pretty forgettable, but not the N&S.

                                                                                  The Taylor's burger is a slightly different animal -- well, you know what I mean. Not quite as big (probably closer to a quarter pound...maybe a third) and it's served very simply on a store-bought style bun with great steak fries and basic burger veggies (LTOP) on the side. But the meat is truly some of the very best around. Also perfectly cooked and super juicy. And a real steal at the price.

                                                                                  1. re: wutzizname
                                                                                    ipsedixit Apr 14, 2010 02:49 PM

                                                                                    While Nick & Stef's burger is fine in its own right, I've never been a fan of the challah-type bun that they use. It's just too crusty.

                                                                                    Plus, I think Morton's wins just on the grilled onions and bacon alone ...

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                      wutzizname Apr 14, 2010 03:05 PM

                                                                                      I don't really remember exactly what the bun was like at N&S, though it can't have been bad enough to get in the way of my deciding that it was an amazing burger.

                                                                                      Personally, I'm always much more concerned with the quality of the burger itself, regardless of where I'm eating it, and will often make adjustments to the bun in order to strike the right balance; whether that's discarding half of it, or scooping out some of the insides.

                                                                                      I agree that a great bun should be part of the perfect burger -- ideally without having to make adjustments to it -- but I'm willing to work with whatever I'm given, if the meat is as spectacular as this.

                                                                                      1. re: wutzizname
                                                                                        ipsedixit Apr 14, 2010 03:14 PM

                                                                                        Agree.

                                                                                        But I'm curious, how do you "make adjustments to the bun"??

                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                          wutzizname Apr 14, 2010 05:13 PM

                                                                                          Unless a restaurant has really nailed the proportions correctly (to my taste) I almost always toss aside the bottom half and eat open-faced in order to get a better meat-to-bread ratio, and/or scoop out some of the inside of the bun to do the same.

                                                                                      2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                        e
                                                                                        exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 06:24 PM

                                                                                        Yes! :) That freshly-grilled Bacon just for your order at Morton's is pretty amazing. :)

                                                                            2. SilverlakeGirl Apr 13, 2010 04:03 PM

                                                                              Epic post. Bravo!

                                                                              Thanks for saving me the calories ...

                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: SilverlakeGirl
                                                                                w
                                                                                Wolfgang Apr 13, 2010 04:50 PM

                                                                                Wonderful report.
                                                                                I tried a Rustic Canyon burger a few months after they opened--I think they called it the cast iron burger back then. I was there with 4 friends and they cooked all of our burgers medium well instead of med. rare. Not eating out a tonne and having FO right around the corner from me left me not wanting to give them another shot. Perhaps I will now.
                                                                                Also, when I was at Lucky Devils, I ordered the grass fed burger medium rare and the counter person told me that they will not cook the grass fed beef less than medium well for food safety reasons. So I ordered the Kobe burger and my experience was worse than yours, aided by a cold (not room temp) bun.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Lucky Devils
                                                                                6613 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                                                                1. re: Wolfgang
                                                                                  b
                                                                                  Burger Boy Apr 13, 2010 04:55 PM

                                                                                  So, I think every place sometimes has an issue with getting their tempureture right.

                                                                                  1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                                    j
                                                                                    Jack Flash Apr 13, 2010 05:05 PM

                                                                                    True. with something as thin as a burger patty, every second on the grill counts, as does every every second that the finished burger sits waiting to be served because it will continue to cook. A burger can come off the grill med rare, but be well past medium by the time it reaches the diner if it's been allowed to sit too long.

                                                                                  2. re: Wolfgang
                                                                                    j
                                                                                    Jack Flash Apr 13, 2010 05:02 PM

                                                                                    How ironic that they lack confidence in the quality of their grass-fed beef; as noted in my comment above, it should be higher quality. They might as well not serve grass-fed beef if they insist on ruining it. The stuff needs to be cooked at a lower temperature, and to a lower temperature.

                                                                                    1. re: Wolfgang
                                                                                      mollyomormon Apr 13, 2010 05:03 PM

                                                                                      I had that exact experience with Rustic Canyon's burger shortly after they opened and haven't tried it since because of that, but it sounds like I need to re-visit it.

                                                                                      1. re: Wolfgang
                                                                                        e
                                                                                        exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 06:38 PM

                                                                                        Hi Wolfgang,

                                                                                        Yes, definitely give Rustic Canyon another try. I never got a chance to try them when they first opened up (~3 years ago), but their new Chef de Cuisine Evan Funke may be one of the reasons their current Meyer Ranch Burger is so good (that, and the Meyer Ranch Beef I think :). I love that Burger!

                                                                                        Sorry to hear you also had a problem w/ the Tallgrass Burger at Lucky Devils.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Lucky Devils
                                                                                        6613 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                                                                        Ranch Burgers
                                                                                        5685 Riverside Dr, Chino, CA 91710

                                                                                    2. s
                                                                                      Sgee Apr 13, 2010 05:55 PM

                                                                                      Hahaha, great post!!! Timely too, wife has been on a burger streak of late.

                                                                                      I'm quite fond of Rustic Canyon but never tried their burger. Will definitely have to order it next time I'm there.

                                                                                      1. a_and_w Apr 13, 2010 05:56 PM

                                                                                        Wowzers, what an unbelievable review -- you've outdone yourself exilekiss! I'm surprised that you all found the Father's Office burger to have the beefiest flavor. I feel like it isn't quite beefy enough to stand up to the other bold flavors like the cheese and onions. Looks like I may need to make another visit to double check!

                                                                                        I saw you had info re the blend of cuts Umami uses. Were you able to determine what blends other places were using? Also, are there other places besides Umami that grind the meat themselves? Thanks!

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: a_and_w
                                                                                          e
                                                                                          exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 10:17 PM

                                                                                          Hi a_and_w,

                                                                                          You're too kind. :) Well, the F.O. Burger definitely has strong additions outside of the patty itself, but tasting the Beef by itself, out of all the Burgers we tried, no other place approached the flavor and intensity of Father's Office Dry-Aged Niman Ranch Beef. Give them another try and let me know what you think. :)

                                                                                          In terms of blends, some places were really secretive. But of the finalists...

                                                                                          * 8 oz: Their House Blend uses Hormone-Free Black Angus Sirloin, Chuck, Tri-Tip and Short Rib, ground in-house.

                                                                                          * Umami: Uses a combination of USDA Prime Short Rib, Skirt Steak and Fat, ground in-house.

                                                                                          * Morton's The Steakhouse: Made with Wet-Aged, 100% USDA Prime Sirloin Only. I was surprised and asked our waitress if they added any Beef Fat, but supposedly it's purely Prime Sirloin.

                                                                                          Hope this helps. :)

                                                                                        2. n
                                                                                          ns1 Apr 13, 2010 06:31 PM

                                                                                          epic

                                                                                          1. mikeop34 Apr 13, 2010 06:45 PM

                                                                                            Wow I just ate a whole plate of food, then read this post and got hungry all over again! Curious if any of you have tried Oaks Gourmet in the Beachwood Canyon/Franklin area. I just tried it this weekend and was very impressed! In the end, there may be a little too much going on in the burger, but the beef was very tasty and cooked between medium and med-rare, and the bun was tasty although a bit too thick for me. It doesn't come with much except a kind of slaw that's decent but not quite enough to balance such a big burger.

                                                                                            Their description: "Half Pound of our Dry Age Blend w/Taleggio Cheese, Black Forest Bacon, Red Onion, Tomato, Arugula & our Smoked Jalapeño-Pineapple Compote on Toasted Brioche." $11.50

                                                                                            For example, the taleggio added a great twist to the burger as did the peppery and spicy black forest bacon, but I had no idea there was that jalapeno-pineapple compote or maybe it was just subliminally good ...

                                                                                            EDIT: not sure why it won't let me add the link, but here's the info
                                                                                            The Oaks Gourmet
                                                                                            1915 N Bronson Ave
                                                                                            Los Angeles, CA 90068
                                                                                            http://www.theoaksgourmet.com/

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Oaks Gourmet
                                                                                            1915 N Bronson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068

                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: mikeop34
                                                                                              e
                                                                                              exilekiss Apr 13, 2010 10:27 PM

                                                                                              Hi mikeop34,

                                                                                              Thanks for your recommendation for The Oaks Gourmet. I've never been. I'll have to try it when I get a chance. Is this your favorite Burger in So Cal?

                                                                                              1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                b
                                                                                                Burger Boy Apr 14, 2010 06:52 AM

                                                                                                I was there recently and saw a poster on the counter that LA Magazine, I think voted them in the top burgers in LA, might have been number one.

                                                                                                1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                  mc michael Apr 14, 2010 06:54 AM

                                                                                                  A Hamburger Today was not impressed, IIRC.

                                                                                                  1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                    exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 11:40 AM

                                                                                                    Hi Burger Boy,

                                                                                                    What did you think of Oaks Gourmet's Burger? You like it more than your favorite 26 Beach? :)

                                                                                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                      Burger Boy Apr 14, 2010 12:21 PM

                                                                                                      Did not get it yet, after reading AHT's review not sure I will. No, I will give it a try.

                                                                                                  2. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                    mikeop34 Apr 14, 2010 03:47 PM

                                                                                                    Hey exilekiss, I wouldn't say it's my favorite, but it was solid. Hard for me to pick a favorite, but I definitely love Father's Office and Golden State, two entirely different experiences. I also really enjoyed the Bowery's burger, very juicy and beefy, probably closer to Golden State's in composition.

                                                                                                    Oaks Gourmet itself is pretty casual and has some other good items as well as a gourmet selection of beers and cheese. A big drawback is you can't actually drink the beer there!

                                                                                                    I've heard some good things about the burgers at Beacon and Village Pub, too. Wouldn't necessarily associate either of those places with great burgers, but you never know ...

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    The Golden State
                                                                                                    426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                    Father's Office Bar
                                                                                                    1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                                                                                    The Village Pub
                                                                                                    3437 Ocean View Blvd, Glendale, CA 91208

                                                                                                    Oaks Gourmet
                                                                                                    1915 N Bronson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068

                                                                                                  3. re: mikeop34
                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                    darrelll Apr 15, 2010 12:42 PM

                                                                                                    I drive by this place every day. Is there seating inside?

                                                                                                    1. re: darrelll
                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                      Burger Boy Apr 15, 2010 09:28 PM

                                                                                                      Seats at least 80 or 90 is my guess.

                                                                                                      1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                                                        mikeop34 Apr 16, 2010 03:56 PM

                                                                                                        There's not a whole lot of seating inside. There's a communal table inside and some tables outside. And with people milling around, looking for beers, cheeses, pastries, it's not really that comfortable either. Despite all that, the food was solid, and they do have some cool stuff there.

                                                                                                        They do a lot of carry-out business, seemed like - ironically, the carry-out containers are all more comfortable to eat out of than their dining-in containers or lack of.

                                                                                                  4. J.L. Apr 13, 2010 10:23 PM

                                                                                                    Bravo. Simply Bravo... Now, I'm off to FO for my weekly FO Burger fix... I knew it deserved to be ranked up there all along.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: J.L.
                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                      exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 11:42 AM

                                                                                                      Hi J.L.,

                                                                                                      Thanks. :) Have you ever tried the Rustic Canyon Burger? Curious what you think of it (totally different from the F.O. Burger of course).

                                                                                                    2. d
                                                                                                      degustateur Apr 14, 2010 01:02 AM

                                                                                                      Exceptional work, Exilekiss, worthy of a Food TV spot! It exemplifies why yours was the first food blog that I read on a regular basis. Yet, as a true culinary statesman, your consummate diplomacy precluded the crowning of a definitive champion. (~_^)

                                                                                                      Amongst your lineup (I’ve yet to try Rustic Canyon's or Anisette's), Morton’s (either Costa Mesa or Downtown LA) gets my top billing. Two burgers come to mind as other worthy contenders, albeit both somewhat off the beaten path – the ground chuck cheeseburger (kicked-up a notch with shaved truffle) at The Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa and the signature burger at The Back Abbey in Claremont. Both are world-class.

                                                                                                      You know, after all these years, I still contend that ole’ Daddy-O’s on 96th Street (R.I.P. 40 yrs.) served up the world’s best burgers and fries out of a converted end unit in his apartment building. To this day, I’ve had none better. His chiliburgers were literally from another dimension.

                                                                                                      Exilekiss, thank you for your effort and commitment. Both are highly appreciated and respected.

                                                                                                      d(>w<)b

                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                      The Back Abbey
                                                                                                      128 Oberlin Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

                                                                                                      Golden Truffle
                                                                                                      1767 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

                                                                                                      14 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: degustateur
                                                                                                        e
                                                                                                        exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 11:53 AM

                                                                                                        Hi degustateur,

                                                                                                        You are truly too kind. _(._.)_ Thanks. :)

                                                                                                        I'm glad to hear the Costa Mesa Morton's (another vote of confidence here) is as good as Downtown L.A.'s Morton's.

                                                                                                        Wow, I've passed by The Golden Truffle so many times when I'm hanging out with my Hounds in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, I never would've thought they make a great Burger (w/ Shaved Truffles no less :). How much is the Truffle Burger?

                                                                                                        And Claremont as well! (I'm so glad you cover so much area with your picks :) I'll have to try The Back Abbey's Burger as well (when I recover).

                                                                                                        Your description of Daddy-O's is making me hungry. After all these "clean" Burgers, I realize now we never had any messy, dripping, primal Chili Burgers. Now I need one... wait, I'm still recovering. Sigh. OK, maybe in 2 months. :)

                                                                                                        Like you, the best Burger I've ever had is from a residential home as well: My dear friend, a former Chef & Caterer, invited us over for an afternoon BBQ: He didn't even have a chance to run to his favorite butcher, just the local market's butcher. He had them ground up a secret blend of meats and just fresh grilled them to perfection. He wouldn't tell any of us his recipe, sigh. I have to go back to his BBQs now, just to eat them (when he has time :).

                                                                                                        And thank you for all your hard work and recommendations to Chowhound! :)

                                                                                                        1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                          wilafur Apr 14, 2010 04:37 PM

                                                                                                          the golden truffle lists the burger at $11 on their website. quite the deal, especially if it has shaved truffles.

                                                                                                          1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                            d
                                                                                                            degustateur Apr 15, 2010 04:54 PM

                                                                                                            Yo, Exilekiss

                                                                                                            OMG! Your post has certainly garnered a legion of well-deserved attention – and fast!

                                                                                                            I am unsure of the price of the truffle burger at Golden Truffle. It was part of a multi-course prix fixe prepared for me by Alan Greeley, the owner/chef. I do recall that the same burger without truffle is about $12. I’ve enjoyed that one too.

                                                                                                            Trivial question: how long did it take you and your compatriots to complete your burger throw down? The more I think of it, the more that I realize the level of effort and extent of time involved.

                                                                                                            Again, great work!

                                                                                                            … now, about that greasy, messy chiliburger …

                                                                                                            1. re: degustateur
                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                              exilekiss Apr 16, 2010 08:39 AM

                                                                                                              Hi degustateur,

                                                                                                              Thanks. So do you think the Golden Truffle's Truffle Burger is only part of their Prix Fixe multi-course dinner?

                                                                                                              It took about ~4 days to finish this (not counting our original few visits to various places initially :).

                                                                                                          2. re: degustateur
                                                                                                            a
                                                                                                            attran99 Apr 15, 2010 09:04 PM

                                                                                                            I highly second degustateur's rec for The Back Abbey...I found the Back Abbey burger to be delightful! And their list of what seems like a hundred beers makes it an enjoyable lunch, dinner, or late night snack.

                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                            The Back Abbey
                                                                                                            128 Oberlin Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

                                                                                                            1. re: attran99
                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                              exilekiss Apr 16, 2010 08:41 AM

                                                                                                              Hi attran99,

                                                                                                              Thanks for the report back on The Back Abbey. :) So which Burger of theirs did you try / enjoy? Or do they only have 1 type? Thanks.

                                                                                                              1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                a
                                                                                                                attran99 Apr 16, 2010 09:48 AM

                                                                                                                I had the Back Abbey burger. Cooked perfectly. The review is at the following for your convenience.
                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6956...

                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                The Back Abbey
                                                                                                                128 Oberlin Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

                                                                                                                1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                  Jordan Apr 16, 2010 12:18 PM

                                                                                                                  I like the Back Abbey too. They have a couple of types on their regular menu, plus a "seasonal burger." The brioche bun is decent, and the toppings are generally well-balanced, with the caveat that they like to use aged cheddar or gruyere. The problem with aged cheeses is that they don't have the moisture content to melt smoothly. There are plenty of flavorful, non-aged cheeses that would be more appropriate on a burger.

                                                                                                                  They will cook your burger to order and, like most of these places, usually (but not always) get it right.

                                                                                                                  Price is a downside. The burgers come with a small but nice green salad. If you want fries, a half-order (more than enough for one person) is $6 and a full order (enough for three people) is $8. These are excellent fries, and they come with a trio of dipping sauces (if you count ketchup). But, with burger, fries, and a drink, your bill will top $20.

                                                                                                                  However, that caveat aside, this is the best gourmet burger I've found in the SGV, so far. Most places around here, even those that trumpet their burgers, serve the flat, overcooked fast food style burger that LA seems to love. I don't mind these on occasion (such as In-n-Out), but they aren't truly gourmet to me, even when dressed up with fancy ingredients.

                                                                                                                  I moved here recently from the Midwest, where we are pretty serious about our gourmet burgers. In Minneapolis, there are several places vying for the title of best burger. To quote a description of one such burger, "[the chef] trims Wagyu beef till he thinks it's down to about an 18 percent fat content, then slices it and cures it in the refrigerator overnight with thyme sprigs, black peppercorns, and kosher salt. The next day they take that beef, brush off the cure, double-grind it, and form it into patties. The burgers are then seared on a forge-hot iron skillet, removed from the heat, and allowed to rest in a sort of emulsified butter broth called a beurre fondue. All of these steps are designed to prevent the meat from becoming tough; they also allow the juices to distribute evenly through the burger, using the same logic with which you "rest" a steak after grilling it. Finally, when you order a burger, said burger is brought to temperature in an oven, which allows the extra fat from the beurre fondue to bubble out while preventing a dollop of precious moisture from escaping."

                                                                                                                  So, as you can see, I'm pretty serious about my gourmet burgers. I really enjoyed your review. Several of the places sound quite good, but several also sound like they are going way over the top with giant puffy buns and loads of ingredients and forgetting to get the basics right.

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  The Back Abbey
                                                                                                                  128 Oberlin Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

                                                                                                                  1. re: Jordan
                                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                                    sel Apr 16, 2010 01:23 PM

                                                                                                                    You're killin me here at my desk, trying hard not to order tickets for a burger weekend in Minneapolis!
                                                                                                                    I first went ti The Back Abbey for their Belgian beers on tap but the burgers have been excellent every time. I like the gruyere on the burger there, I often use it at home on my burgers

                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                    The Back Abbey
                                                                                                                    128 Oberlin Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

                                                                                                                    1. re: sel
                                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                                      exilekiss Apr 16, 2010 03:16 PM

                                                                                                                      Hi sel,

                                                                                                                      How does the Abbey rate compared to your favs in LA? Thanks.

                                                                                                                      1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                        sel Apr 17, 2010 12:30 AM

                                                                                                                        The Back Abbey is not my favorite burger but it's a good one. I should go back again but when traveling through the SGV I'm usually a victim to my love of facing heaven chilis and Sichuan peppercorns!
                                                                                                                        While I really enjoyed reading about your burger adventure on your blog with all the wonderful pics, now I feel really pressed to try some of the spots that you included that I have yet to experience.Of the places you list that I do frequent, both locations of Father's Office and The Golden State are on my regular rotation. I really used to like the burger offered at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach but recently when I tried to order their burger(that has smoked short rib ground in to the mix) rare the server bluntly told me "...we don't do temperatures on our burgers!" That's a deal breaker for me! But their beer list often makes up for such problems!

                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                        Beachwood BBQ
                                                                                                                        131 1/2 Main St, Seal Beach, CA 90740

                                                                                                                        The Back Abbey
                                                                                                                        128 Oberlin Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

                                                                                                                        The Golden State
                                                                                                                        426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                        Father's Office Bar
                                                                                                                        1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                                                                                                    2. re: Jordan
                                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                                      exilekiss Apr 16, 2010 03:15 PM

                                                                                                                      Hi Jordan,

                                                                                                                      Wow that place in Minneapolis sounds wonderfully insane in its dedication to making the perfect Burger. :) Thanks for your thoughts on The Back Abbey as well.

                                                                                                                      It sounds like you really love Burgers so if you get a chance and try some of the places on this list, please report back and let us know how it goes. :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                        Jordan Apr 16, 2010 04:35 PM

                                                                                                                        Will do. Unfortunately, I'm based in the SGV and don't have many opportunities to get down into the city, let alone the westside. But, a few of your top choices are definitely on my list!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Jordan
                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                          exilekiss Apr 18, 2010 08:51 AM

                                                                                                                          Hi Jordan,

                                                                                                                          With your amazing description of that Midwest Burger restaurant, you definitely owe it to yourself to satisfy your Burger hunger with some of these Burger joints around town. :) I look forward to hearing your thoughts on some of these places, especially in light of your experience with that crazy Minneapolis place (I have to visit it one day - what's the name / address of that Restaurant?).

                                                                                                                          Thanks!

                                                                                                              2. m
                                                                                                                mc michael Apr 14, 2010 06:28 AM

                                                                                                                Thanks for taking one (well, many) for the team. Too bad you couldn't haven't finished off with a Thai American Express Cafe burger (sigh).

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: mc michael
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                                                                                                                  exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 11:56 AM

                                                                                                                  Hi mc michael,

                                                                                                                  Thank you. I had to Google the Thai American Express Cafe Burger... it's cool that the top results are from Chowhound. Looks like this was a great Burger and great loss to L.A. :( What are your favorite Gourmet Burgers currently? :)

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  Gourmet Burgers
                                                                                                                  3442 E Orangethorpe Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806

                                                                                                                  1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                                    Burger Boy Apr 14, 2010 12:23 PM

                                                                                                                    I had it once and it was good, it was a good mushroom burger put not as good as some others. IMHO I can see the backlass begin.

                                                                                                                2. v
                                                                                                                  vinosnob Apr 14, 2010 09:38 AM

                                                                                                                  Superb review!

                                                                                                                  Completely agree; the FO and RC burgers are two of my current favorites in town. Will have to go to Golden State and see what's doin'.

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  The Golden State
                                                                                                                  426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: vinosnob
                                                                                                                    v
                                                                                                                    vinosnob Jul 2, 2010 11:55 AM

                                                                                                                    BTW, randomly went to Upper West to watch the World Cup and I ordered their house buger.

                                                                                                                    VERY solid; their dry-aged beef is phenomenal. Challah bun with a pasilla goat-cheese spread.

                                                                                                                    Only complaint is the kitchen went over-kill with the goat cheese.

                                                                                                                    On the pricier side i.e. $14, but the meat itself is well worth it. Awesome fries/ketchup too!

                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                    Upper West
                                                                                                                    3321 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404

                                                                                                                  2. J.L. Apr 14, 2010 10:50 AM

                                                                                                                    I suggest a Round 2: The Counter, Pie N Burger, Apple Pan, & Hole-In-The-Wall

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

                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: J.L.
                                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                                      mdpilam Apr 14, 2010 10:57 AM

                                                                                                                      I'd take Hole in the Wall out of those 4, but Ive only been once or twice to each. I still maintain Apple Pan is an expensive version of In n Out.

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

                                                                                                                      1. re: mdpilam
                                                                                                                        t
                                                                                                                        taiwanesesmalleats Apr 14, 2010 11:20 AM

                                                                                                                        Totally agree. Now if In-N-Out served an amazing banana cream pie, I'd hve no reason to go to Apple Pan.

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

                                                                                                                        1. re: taiwanesesmalleats
                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                          Burger Boy Apr 14, 2010 12:24 PM

                                                                                                                          I feel your banana cream pie hunger!

                                                                                                                      2. re: J.L.
                                                                                                                        ipsedixit Apr 14, 2010 11:34 AM

                                                                                                                        Round 2 ... what a great idea.

                                                                                                                        My choices for Round 2 contenders:

                                                                                                                        Petrossian
                                                                                                                        Hungry Cat
                                                                                                                        Traxx
                                                                                                                        Craft
                                                                                                                        Rockenwagner - 3square
                                                                                                                        Spago

                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                        The Hungry Cat
                                                                                                                        1535 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                                                                                                        Spago
                                                                                                                        176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                                                                                                        Traxx
                                                                                                                        800 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                          mc michael Apr 14, 2010 12:49 PM

                                                                                                                          Add The Foundry and Pete's and I'm in.

                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                            e
                                                                                                                            exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 06:29 PM

                                                                                                                            ~La La La La La~...

                                                                                                                            I'm not listening. (^_~) I leave Round 2 up to you, ipse and J.L. My friends would kill me if I mention the word "Burger" again to them. :)

                                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                              f
                                                                                                                              foodiemahoodie Jun 23, 2010 11:05 PM

                                                                                                                              I second 3 Square. Pretzel roll and carmelized onions. I've had different variations there - including foie gras. (works for me!).

                                                                                                                              I did try Umami Burger today - the Fred Segal variant. The Jerky Burger - I didn't bother to finish it. I did like the port sauce/blue cheese/ carmelized onion burger. A lot. I'd have to say I enjoyed it more than the last Father's Office burger I had. (still love their sweet potato fries - second best in the city - Josie's has the best).

                                                                                                                              Umami had onion rings which were underdone and greasy. The cheese tater totes were, well, okay. Had a nice crisp on them but the didn't exactly stand out as anything special (cheesey tater tots sounds like it would be a great idea, but these were simply disappointing).

                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                              Fred Segal
                                                                                                                              500 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                                                                                                                              3 Square Cafe
                                                                                                                              1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                                                                                                                              Umami Burger
                                                                                                                              850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                              Father's Office Bar
                                                                                                                              1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                                                                                                              M Restaurant - Hotel Metropole
                                                                                                                              205 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704

                                                                                                                              1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                                                                                                                e
                                                                                                                                exilekiss Jun 24, 2010 11:20 AM

                                                                                                                                Hi foodiemahoodie,

                                                                                                                                Thanks for the rec. How much did the Foie Gras Burger run? Is it always on the menu?

                                                                                                                                1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                  f
                                                                                                                                  foodiemahoodie Jul 1, 2010 09:28 PM

                                                                                                                                  I don't think it is.

                                                                                                                            2. re: J.L.
                                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                                              exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 11:57 AM

                                                                                                                              Hi J.L.,

                                                                                                                              No Round 2. :) My friends and I need to recover from Round 1... for the next 2-4 Months. :P But thanks for the recommendations. :)

                                                                                                                            3. Mr Taster Apr 14, 2010 12:16 PM

                                                                                                                              Wow EK, your incomplete reviews are more complete than some complete reviews I've read.

                                                                                                                              Last night a friend and I faced the dilemma of whether to give some business to the nearly always sadly empty new Chameau/Deli Bar or Golden State. We chose Golden State, ordered the burger, and I was suddenly reminded of how lucky I am to live a short walking distance from this amazing place. The burger (with added caramelized onions for $1) was outstanding. Thanks for pointing out the lamb burger on Thursdays option... I had no idea. Will definitely have to check it out.

                                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                              The Golden State
                                                                                                                              426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                                                Ciao Bob Apr 14, 2010 02:51 PM

                                                                                                                                Was it crowded, Taster?
                                                                                                                                I always wonder how much an influential post like this one drives business.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster Apr 14, 2010 02:54 PM

                                                                                                                                  Not too bad. Went around 7:00pm and there were a couple of tables open, including a 4 person booth. We decided to be nice and not occupy the booth with just 2 people. During our dinner the place filled up with standing people, and then by the time we left around 8:30-9:00, there were open tables again.

                                                                                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                2. re: Mr Taster
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                                                                                                                                  exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 06:34 PM

                                                                                                                                  Hi Mr Taster,

                                                                                                                                  Thank you. :) And thanks for reporting back on your meal at Golden State last night. I'm glad you enjoyed their Burger. :)

                                                                                                                                  If Golden State is close to you, you have to go back on Thursday night for their Lamb Burger (amazing). Call ahead though, since I heard it sells out early sometimes.

                                                                                                                                  Also, FYI, Friday & Saturday they have Fish & Chips (which are pretty nice). And you and your LTA can enjoy whatever bizarre and delicious Gelato creations Scoops has created for the day. :)

                                                                                                                                  Did your LTA enjoy the Burger as well?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                    Mr Taster Apr 14, 2010 08:40 PM

                                                                                                                                    Ah, well this time my Lovely Tasting Assistant (LTA) was at school, but the friend I was with most definitely enjoyed the bite of my burger that she had (she was much less impressed with her hot dog). The sides we ordered (potato salad and persian cucumber salad were fine, unextraordinary. I prefer the jalapeno slaw and the fries). Unfortunately, neither of us was in the mood for ice cream that night, but it is amazing to have this bounty literally just steps from our door.

                                                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                3. yinyangdi Apr 14, 2010 06:50 PM

                                                                                                                                  Curious to know if y'all ate whole burgers or were they split in half or quarters to share betwixt the TSCBE (Tragic Southern California Burger Expedition) foodies?

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: yinyangdi
                                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                                    exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 11:03 PM

                                                                                                                                    Hi yinyangdi,

                                                                                                                                    Halves. :) We originally thought about eating whole Burgers, until some semblance of sanity hit some of us and we quickly cut our order in half. :) Thanks.

                                                                                                                                  2. e
                                                                                                                                    exilekiss Apr 14, 2010 11:03 PM

                                                                                                                                    Adding Chow Place link. (Strangely this wasn't in the database, so I had to wait before it showed up to link.)

                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                    8 oz. Burger Bar
                                                                                                                                    7661 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

                                                                                                                                    1. m
                                                                                                                                      mc michael Apr 15, 2010 06:30 AM

                                                                                                                                      Are we all just wusses here? http://laist.com/2010/04/15/midnight_...

                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: mc michael
                                                                                                                                        b
                                                                                                                                        burntwater Apr 15, 2010 06:50 AM

                                                                                                                                        EK my hats off to you for taking this on.

                                                                                                                                        It would be nearly impossible to do but do you think the results would change if you were able to do a side by side blind tasting of the burgers or when comparing any food for that matter.

                                                                                                                                        I've had my eyes opened a few times blind tasting beers.
                                                                                                                                        The 13 is excellent I've done a 10, 11 ,12 and 13 tasting before and the 13 just edged out 11 but aging had some influence. Cheers

                                                                                                                                        1. re: burntwater
                                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                                          exilekiss Apr 15, 2010 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                                          Hi burntwater,

                                                                                                                                          Thank you. :) I don't think the results would change for me (or ~50% of my group at least). I went in with no agenda, and was actually really excited to try all these places. I've been hearing about some of these places for so long, but never got a chance to just go and eat there (and I'm glad I was able to, even if they didn't deliver the best Burger). :)

                                                                                                                                          One of the reasons I think it wouldn't have mattered is that we always sampled at least part of our Burgers with just the Beef, stripped of all the extras, to really try and appreciate the Beef by itself. And that's where the Dry-Aged Niman Ranch of Father's Office was unmistakable in its flavor, the Wet-Aged Prime Beef of Golden State, and Meyer Ranch All-Natural Beef of Rustic Canyon stood out the most. Morton's USDA Prime Sirloin had a gorgeous char and nice Beef flavor as well, and that fresh-made Bacon just for your order was amazing! :)

                                                                                                                                          Thank you burntwater for the thoughts on Firestone. I am *so* excited to try their limited edition XIII. Firestone Walker XI is my current favorite Beer of all time! :) I'm glad to have had it at Blue Palms, and my friend's place. I'm looking forward to trying XIII at Golden State or Blue Palms soon.

                                                                                                                                          I've never tried Firestone Walker X. Do you know anywhere locally that still serves this? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                            b
                                                                                                                                            burntwater Apr 15, 2010 04:19 PM

                                                                                                                                            EK nice to know you went into it with a open mind/palate.

                                                                                                                                            I know for myself the hardest part in judging would be the time lapse involved between sampling them. I would have a hard time discerning from memory which one truly is the best between the top burgers since they are all great in their own ways.
                                                                                                                                            Although I would have a great time doing it.

                                                                                                                                            You did an excellent job and it was a great read.

                                                                                                                                            A Firestone 10 bottle would be hard to find now but probably not impossible through the
                                                                                                                                            beer trading forums.
                                                                                                                                            The only bummer is even if you got a hold of one the general consensus on that beer is it's past it's prime. Cheers

                                                                                                                                        2. re: mc michael
                                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                                          exilekiss Apr 15, 2010 09:12 AM

                                                                                                                                          That's just scary. :)

                                                                                                                                        3. d
                                                                                                                                          darrelll Apr 15, 2010 01:02 PM

                                                                                                                                          Excellent review. Anyone try the Gyenari burgers?

                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                          Gyenari
                                                                                                                                          9540 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: darrelll
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                                                                                                                                            darrelll Apr 15, 2010 01:08 PM

                                                                                                                                            Also, I used to be a regular at 26 Beach Cafe since the first day they opened at their original location by the beach. I liked their burgers back then, but the star was their grilled chicken breast sandwich and their salads. Back then in the 80's, they were the best of the best.

                                                                                                                                            I ate there so often, I was considering asking them if I could just reserve a table all the time and use a cordless phone from my office 3 doors down the street.

                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                            26 Beach
                                                                                                                                            3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                                                                                                                                            1. re: darrelll
                                                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                                                              exilekiss Apr 15, 2010 01:51 PM

                                                                                                                                              Hi darrelll,

                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the recommendation: Wow, so you liked 26 Beach's Grilled Chicken Breast over their Burgers? This, I may have to try this the next time I'm there. :) What made it stand out for you? Seasoning? The execution (really juicy)? etc.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                d
                                                                                                                                                darrelll Apr 18, 2010 03:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                Hi darrelll,

                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the recommendation: Wow, so you liked 26 Beach's Grilled Chicken Breast over their Burgers? This, I may have to try this the next time I'm there. :) What made it stand out for you? Seasoning? The execution (really juicy)? etc.
                                                                                                                                                =======

                                                                                                                                                Exilekiss

                                                                                                                                                I would normally order the Larry Bird (same name as back then) I'd occasionly order the Maui Boy (back then I think it was simply called the teri chix sandwich). The breast was huge (not my preference on humans, LOL) tender and juicy. Of course with the house made buns, freshest veggies Lettuce/tomato, I seem to recall they had a couple different ways they served the sandwich. The salads were prepared by a chef/cook that had great knife skills and the ingredients were always the freshest.

                                                                                                                                                Looking at their menu, I see it has been greatly expanded. The chef/owner is very talented and I think I need to revisit the place myself as I used to eat here several times a week.

                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                26 Beach
                                                                                                                                                3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                                                                                                                                          2. b
                                                                                                                                            baloney Apr 18, 2010 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                                            So I was intrigued by the "California Roll" Burger that Burgerboy mentioned. I had it today for brunch and must say it was delicious. When asking our waiter to choose between the CA Roll and the King Kobe he said the CA roll blows it out of the water. Love the bun, though the bottom half disintegrated after a while(due to the ingredients on this particular burger, I think others would have held up fine). The bites heavy with nori were particularly happy ones for me but the whole burger was great. Not a huge fan of the fries: not the worst, just not my style. I haven't tried to the King Kobe yet, but everyone should try this California Roll burger while they have it as a special!

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: baloney
                                                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                                                              exilekiss Apr 19, 2010 10:29 AM

                                                                                                                                              Hi baloney,

                                                                                                                                              Nice! Another recommendation for this new California Roll Burger. :) I hope they have it in a few months when I complete my full recovery from Burger Overdose. :)

                                                                                                                                            2. d
                                                                                                                                              dalberts Apr 19, 2010 12:03 PM

                                                                                                                                              I nominate the burger at The Westside Tavern...

                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                              Westside Tavern
                                                                                                                                              10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: dalberts
                                                                                                                                                Servorg Apr 19, 2010 12:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                We like Westside Tavern, but their burger doesn't measure up to Golden State or Fathers Office. One of the problems with brioche style buns is that they can be too much of a good thing when it comes to high fat content burgers - bringing another level of greasiness to the party, when what the party needs is a little damping down in that area. That's one of the reasons that Fathers Office burger with its decidedly ungreasy (even a little bland) French roll style "bun" is a good choice to let the other completely unctuous ingredients shine. And one of the reasons that I mark the Westside Tavern down a notch or two.

                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                The Golden State
                                                                                                                                                426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                                                Westside Tavern
                                                                                                                                                10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                                  b
                                                                                                                                                  Burger Boy Apr 19, 2010 12:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I went the other day and was not blown away, it reminded me of Umami. I wish I had been there when they had the lamb burger, would have loved to tried that. I also wish their sweet potato fries were crispier. Oh well. I might have to go to Cassell's for some lunch today.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                                                    exilekiss Apr 19, 2010 03:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Hi Burger Boy,

                                                                                                                                                    Which Burger are you talking about? Westside Tavern or Golden State? Thanks for the clarification. :)

                                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                                    The Golden State
                                                                                                                                                    426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                                                    Westside Tavern
                                                                                                                                                    10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                                                                                                    Burger Boy
                                                                                                                                                    1650 S State College Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92806

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                                                                      Burger Boy Apr 19, 2010 04:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Sorry, Golden State.

                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                      The Golden State
                                                                                                                                                      426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                                                                                                        e
                                                                                                                                                        exilekiss Apr 19, 2010 09:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Hi Burger Boy,

                                                                                                                                                        Sorry to hear about your experience. It's weird, I never thought their Burger was anything like Umami, but that's cool. Their Lamb Burger is wonderful if you ever get a chance to try it. Thanks for the report back. :)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                                                          bulavinaka Apr 19, 2010 09:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Hi exilekiss,

                                                                                                                                                          I know you love your lamb and I second that notion. I'm curious as to how the lamb burger itself is seasoned... TIA

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                                                                            e
                                                                                                                                                            exilekiss Apr 20, 2010 08:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Hi bulavinaka,

                                                                                                                                                            From what I can make out, their Colorado Lamb Burger uses Fresh Oregano, Fresh Parsley and Fresh Mint mixed with the Lamb itself. Can't wait to go back. :)

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                            b
                                                                                                                                                            Burger Boy Apr 19, 2010 10:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I will go back, The lamb burger sounds good. What i meant by it reminded me of Umami was all the flavors were one except the bacon. I also thought the jalapeno coleslaw had no heat or jalapeno flavor. I saw the jalapenos but nada.

                                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                                            M Restaurant - Hotel Metropole
                                                                                                                                                            205 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                                                                                                              Dommy Apr 20, 2010 08:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                              I've found GS Sides to be lacking in general. They are like gelson quality, look pretty, but zero flavor, even the bacon potato salad... meh...

                                                                                                                                                              --Dommy!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Dommy
                                                                                                                                                                b
                                                                                                                                                                Burger Boy Apr 20, 2010 09:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Ok, so it is not me. I just love the sound of a jalapeno coleslaw and it did not deliver, even a little more dressing would be good. Oh well.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Dommy
                                                                                                                                                                  wutzizname Apr 20, 2010 01:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm a big fan of their regular french fries. But I agree that the rest of their sides could use a little help.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: wutzizname
                                                                                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                                                                                    Burger Boy Apr 20, 2010 02:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    For me the fries need a little more crisp and the sweet potato fries or wedges need a lot of crisp, unless they were meant to be on the softer side. But heck they were packed and people are loving it. LOVE the fact that they have Scoops Ice Cream / Gelato.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                                                                                                                      Dommy Apr 20, 2010 03:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah... That is why I keep going back, I found their Burger to be muddled in flavor and their fish and chips over done.... but their beer floats.... O.M.G.!!

                                                                                                                                                                      --Dommy!

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Burger Boy
                                                                                                                                                                  e
                                                                                                                                                                  exilekiss Apr 20, 2010 08:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Hi Burger Boy,

                                                                                                                                                                  I agree with the Jalapeno Slaw. I'm there mainly for their Lamb Burger first, regular Burger second and tied with that the Scoops / Craft Beer Floats. :)

                                                                                                                                                    2. e
                                                                                                                                                      exilekiss Apr 19, 2010 03:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Hi All,

                                                                                                                                                      I've updated my original Review, but I'm adding a note here as well for first time Father's Office visitors (thanks to a great suggestion from a visitor who just got burned by my omission - I feel horrible, sorry!) -

                                                                                                                                                      * Father's Office is considered a Bar first and foremost, those under 21 years old are not permitted.

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks. (I've updated the Chow Place links as well.)

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                        b
                                                                                                                                                        bulavinaka Apr 19, 2010 04:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Hi exilekiss,

                                                                                                                                                        Great point - I think most of us take this vital piece of info for granted.

                                                                                                                                                      2. David Kahn Apr 20, 2010 03:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Spectacular! Really splendid. And thanks for the hat tip; glad you ejoyed Morton's.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: David Kahn
                                                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                                                          exilekiss Apr 20, 2010 09:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Hi David Kahn,

                                                                                                                                                          No, thank *you* for the great tip on Morton's. I thoroughly enjoyed their Burger. :) Have you gotten a chance to try any of the other restaurants on the list? Curious whatcha think of them?

                                                                                                                                                        2. j
                                                                                                                                                          jadekarrde Apr 25, 2010 12:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                          I found out about the wonderful 26 Beach from this thread and its only about a mile from my place. Me and a couple friends went today. I debated getting the California Roll burger, maybe next time, but finally settled on the King Kobe. It was fantastic, but was more medium than medium rare. This place is no Father's Office, but when I have family in town (including my underage younger sister) this will be a good substitute. Although I do sort of feel that the King Kobe was about as good as the burger at Milk, but that burger is inconsistent enough I hesitate to rave it, but when it's on, it's been up there with Father's Office in my opinion.

                                                                                                                                                          My companions had a Napa Burger and French Burger and loved their burgers much more than I loved mine (and I thought mine was excellent). They became instant big fans. It was a bit to our consternation that we all ordered salads with the burgers and we didn't get to sample the fries, but we didn't think to add a side of fries either, so, something that will have to be remedied next time.

                                                                                                                                                          Definitely very glad to find this place. cannot wait to try Garden State if ever the opportunity presents itself.

                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                          26 Beach
                                                                                                                                                          3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                                                                                                                                                          Father's Office Bar
                                                                                                                                                          1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                                                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jadekarrde
                                                                                                                                                            e
                                                                                                                                                            exilekiss Apr 25, 2010 11:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Hi jadekarrde,

                                                                                                                                                            Thank you for the report back. :) I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the 26 Beach King Kobe the IV Burger. That's my favorite one as well, but I can't wait to try Burger Boy's recommended California Roll Burger next time (I'm very curious).

                                                                                                                                                            That's funny that everyone ordered a Side Salad and no one got Fries, but like you said, it's another reason to go back next time (I really enjoyed the Fries when we got them both times).

                                                                                                                                                            And yes, if you do get a chance to try Golden State, please let us know how that meal turns out. :) (If you go on a Thursday evening, you can also sample their Lamb Burger at the same time :).

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                              j
                                                                                                                                                              jadekarrde Apr 26, 2010 12:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Basically Beach 26 could become my favorite local place to eat. It's close, it's delicious, it's fairly priced, and I want to eat through the entire menu (I find it almost incomprehensible people who will only order one thing off a menu every time).

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                jadekarrde May 17, 2010 12:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                we went back to 26 beach. Oh My God. The California Roll burger is one of the most insanely delicious burger experiences I've ever had. It was Enormous, but still able to eat it. Cooked a perfect medium rare, the cool crab salad and avacado against the hot burger and the added heat from the 'wasabi' is just an outstanding and amazing combination.

                                                                                                                                                                Got a taste of the Billy Burger (delicious but sort of felt the fresh goat cheese was more of a star than the beef) and the coconut curry burger (YUM!) as well. But damn damn damn the california roll burger is a first time experience of rapturous taste bud explosion of happiness akin to the first time experience at Father's Office.

                                                                                                                                                                also, the french fries are amazing but I think I prefer getting the salad rather than the fries. And this time they brought us bread for the table as well. And their house bread is a truly amazing sourdough, I could have eaten the whole basket myself.

                                                                                                                                                                Good beer there too.

                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                Father's Office Bar
                                                                                                                                                                1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jadekarrde
                                                                                                                                                                  a_and_w May 17, 2010 10:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  I think the goat cheese is overpowering on the Billy. My favorite is still the 26er, which I actually prefer to the SoCal burger at Umami, my other favorite burger place.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jadekarrde
                                                                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                                                                    exilekiss May 18, 2010 11:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Hi jadekarrde,

                                                                                                                                                                    Darn it! You and burger boy raving about their new California Roll Burger might have me breaking my Burger fast sooner than expected. :) Thanks for the report back on that dish and the new Billy Burger.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                                                                                      Burger Boy May 19, 2010 07:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      Billy Berger has been there for maybe 20 years, it is old. The reason I love this place and rave and rave is because these guys are originally mom and pop and 2 sons! They have been doing these gourmet, gastropub, exotic or whatever word you want to use, burgers for 25 years or more. I mean they were doing a peanut butter burger at least 20 years ago. They had a UFO burger that had sour cream, avocado, mushrooms, onions and I think teriyaki sauce, it was wild. I had my first blue cheese hamburger there when I was , well a lot younger than today. That is why I am so fanatical about them. Father's Office, The Counter, Umami, 8oz are all Johnny come latelies. I think these guys along with the now departed Hampton's and Hamburger Hamlet were pioneers of sort. Hampton's had a sour cream & caviar burger, a plum jam burger, crazy stuff. Besides what other burger place makes their own buns daily? I enduth my rant. Have a great day!

                                                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                                                      Father's Office Bar
                                                                                                                                                                      1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                                                                                                                                                      M Restaurant - Hotel Metropole
                                                                                                                                                                      205 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Burger Boy
                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                        jadekarrde May 19, 2010 01:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        the buns (and bread) are seriously spectacular at 26 Beach. California Roll is not a drippy sandwich, but it is messy, and the bun never got soggy or fell apart. Best burger bun ever? I think probably it is.

                                                                                                                                                                        one of our party split a burger, and the kitchen cut in half and served it cut side down on two plates for them. looked beautiful, they loved it, and half-a-burger was more than a meal for us. I didn't eat anything until lunch the next day (and I am a breakfast person!) because I was just not hungry.

                                                                                                                                                                        Can't wait to go back.

                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                        26 Beach
                                                                                                                                                                        3100 Washington Blvd., Venice, CA 90292

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jadekarrde
                                                                                                                                                                          k
                                                                                                                                                                          kmama Jun 18, 2010 10:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          GREAT REVIEWS!! And I realize, I'm a little late to the covo and that the "mission was incomplete"...;however, if you are going to include opinions on sides, you have to at least give a nod to the truffled potato skins at 8 oz!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kmama
                                                                                                                                                                            e
                                                                                                                                                                            exilekiss Jun 23, 2010 01:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            Hi kmama,

                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you. :) I wish the group could've survived eating all these Burgers *and* tried All the Sides that were available, but I think that would've ended this expedition even earlier than the way it ended (I can't imagine how many sides of Potatoes / Onion Rings / Salads, etc. we would have to wade through to evaluate everything :). But thanks for the recommendation for the Truffled Potato Skins.

                                                                                                                                                              2. a
                                                                                                                                                                AAQjr Jun 22, 2010 04:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                I mentioned it on the blog, but in the 'high end' burger category one of the best in LA has to be the mid week only burger at Cache. Super beefy and juicy! Burger garnishes change weekly IIRC. Fries are great.

                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: AAQjr
                                                                                                                                                                  e
                                                                                                                                                                  exilekiss Jun 23, 2010 01:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Hi AAQjr,

                                                                                                                                                                  I only found mention of Cache's Burger on their Brunch menu (Sat - Sun). Can you give us more details on what you mean by "mid week only"? Do you mean it's unwritten "daily special" type of thing?

                                                                                                                                                                  And which days do they serve it? Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                    a
                                                                                                                                                                    AAQjr Jun 23, 2010 09:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Wednesday's.. IIRC in the 20$ ish range...

                                                                                                                                                                    Today is: "Watercress, Bacon, Blue Cheese, Red Onion Marmalade, and Horseradish Aioli compliment our house-made ground beef this week!! Served with our ever delicious double fried french fries!"

                                                                                                                                                                    From their Facebook page BTW.. And last week featuring one of my FAV cheeses! "Heirloom Tomatoes, Honey-Cured Bacon, Fourme d'Ambert Cheese, Gloria Farm's Arugula, and Cache Sauce served on our house-made ground beef"

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: AAQjr
                                                                                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                                                                                      exilekiss Jun 24, 2010 11:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      Hi AAQjr,

                                                                                                                                                                      Ah nice. I didn't think of a Facebook page (only their official Website menu), thanks. So from your description, every Wednesday night, they rotate in a new Burger?

                                                                                                                                                                      Do you know if it's constantly changing, or will I be able to try your recommended Burger say, in a month (some monthly rotation or something)? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                        a
                                                                                                                                                                        AAQjr Jun 24, 2010 12:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        I believe they rotate garnishes weekly. As you would exect from a from a chef who previously worked for J.Robuchon at the Mansion in vegas (chef Nyesha Arrington), they are well chosen. IMO the flavorful, fresh ground beef is still the star, of course it doesn't hurt that the other components are on point.

                                                                                                                                                                2. c
                                                                                                                                                                  crystaw Jun 23, 2010 03:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I am in awe of your burger fest and wouldn't be surprised at all if you were all burgered out! If you're ever in the area, there's a little place (you enter through a convenience store!) in Monrovia that serves up a great, fresh burger on their own homemade buns. It's called the Market Grill and the burger would probably go in the not gourmet but not fast food category! http://www.themarketgrillmonrovia.com...

                                                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                                                  The Market Grill
                                                                                                                                                                  525 S Shamrock Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016

                                                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: crystaw
                                                                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                                                                    exilekiss Jun 23, 2010 09:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Hi crystaw,

                                                                                                                                                                    Nice! :) I've never heard of this place before, but I might give it a try the next time I visit my Pasadena Hounds. :) What else do you recommend there? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                                                      crystaw Jun 24, 2010 01:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      The California Chicken sandwich is a favorite of mine and for the side I would recommend the mint potato salad. Their roast beef sandwiches are also well received and are served either hot or cold. The hot one is called The Angry Beast and it is tasty but it's a little spicy for me(please note though that I am weak sauce!) since they put jalapenos in it. Their daily soup is usually quite tasty too and when I've gone closer to their closing hour (7pm) they're always out! The menu is quite simple so don't expect anything earth shattering but the food is fresh and well prepared!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                        jerry200 Jun 24, 2010 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Re: Pasadena area burgers

                                                                                                                                                                        Well, to begin with. I stick pretty much around the Pasadena area, so I haven't been to any of the places in the challenge (enjoyable to read about though).

                                                                                                                                                                        I think it was alluded to in this link that there are different classes of burger. For me, there is the non-gourmet, backyard BBQ sort of burger. For that, I can't imagine how you get better than the cheeseburger at the Oinkster. Ordered medium-rare with sharp cheddar. Better than Pie and Burger in my opinion. I suspect the Bucket in Eagle Rock may be real good too. (I haven't been there since I hear constant reports on this site about the folks there having a bad attitude towards customers.)

                                                                                                                                                                        The other class, for me, is the gourmet burger. I love the Kobe Beef Bleu Cheese burger at the Parkway Grill in Pasadena. Medium-rare of course. On a brioche bun with great sweet potato fries. I've never seen that mentioned on this site, but, boy, that is some good burger. Talk about beef flavor!

                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                        Parkway Grill
                                                                                                                                                                        510 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                                                                                                        Oinkster
                                                                                                                                                                        2005 Colorado Blvd, Eagle Rock, CA

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jerry200
                                                                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                                                                          exilekiss Jun 25, 2010 03:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Hi jerry200,

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the info on Parkway Grill's Kobe Bleu Cheese Burger. I never knew they had one (then again, I don't get to stop by Pasadena and Parkway Grill that often). Good to know; I'll have to try this the next time I'm in the area. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                                                                          Parkway Grill
                                                                                                                                                                          510 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                            Servorg Jul 29, 2010 11:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Hey X-kiss, were you aware that contained on the place link page for Golden State you have have photo of Lucky Devils? See here: http://www.chow.com/restaurants/47522... If you actually have a photo of GS you might see if you can swap it out for this one (or if that's not possible maybe the mod's can do it for you).

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                                                                                              exilekiss Jul 29, 2010 04:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              Hi Servorg,

                                                                                                                                                                              Argh. I linked "Golden State" to this topic (and all the restaurants), and since I posted a variety of Photos from all the restaurants hit in this exploration, I guess it pulled the first few automatically into the GS link. :(

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm not sure how to swap out the photos in the Chow Place link?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                                Servorg Jul 29, 2010 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                Hmm, maybe swing over to Site Talk and ask the mod's - if you care? If you don't care I very much doubt the world will stop spinning in its orbit... ;-D>

                                                                                                                                                                    2. f
                                                                                                                                                                      foodiemahoodie Jun 23, 2010 11:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Great work Exilekiss! You put a lot of time and effort into this. You should get an Outstanding Chowhound Award. And since that doesn't exist, I'm giving you one!

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                                                                                                                                                        e
                                                                                                                                                                        exilekiss Jun 24, 2010 11:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        Hi foodiemahoodie,

                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you, you're too kind. :) I have to thank all my "friends" (until they fled and gave up at the end, LOL :), and all the great Hounds for recommendations to help me put this list together; I'm just along for the ride. :)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                                                                          Burger Boy Jun 24, 2010 11:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          No, your out there leading the pack, willing to sacrifice your cholesterol and waistline for the good of all hounds! Eat on!

                                                                                                                                                                      2. n
                                                                                                                                                                        ns1 Sep 10, 2010 02:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        just came back from Morton's, exploding from beef. That thing is seriously huge.

                                                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ns1
                                                                                                                                                                          h
                                                                                                                                                                          huaqiao Sep 10, 2010 02:41 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Lol. That's the first thing I thought when I saw the Morton's burger in person. For some reason it doesn't look that big in pictures, but in real life it's pretty huge.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: huaqiao
                                                                                                                                                                            n
                                                                                                                                                                            ns1 Sep 10, 2010 03:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            I split it with my GF and we both walked away ready to pass out.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: huaqiao
                                                                                                                                                                              mollyomormon Sep 10, 2010 06:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              That's what she said. Seriously, that burger is amazing and they're good about cooking it rare when requested.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mollyomormon
                                                                                                                                                                                b
                                                                                                                                                                                bulavinaka Sep 10, 2010 07:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                "Oh behave!"

                                                                                                                                                                                - Austin Powers :)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mollyomormon
                                                                                                                                                                                  e
                                                                                                                                                                                  exilekiss Sep 11, 2010 01:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi mollyomormon,

                                                                                                                                                                                  Excellent! I'm glad to see you've gotten a chance to try the Morton's Prime Burger; isn't it just... awesome? :) Freshly grilled Bacon, juicy 100% USDA Prime Sirloin. Mmm... :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                                    k
                                                                                                                                                                                    kevin Sep 11, 2010 09:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    it's awesome but very heavy, i could definitely splitting it between two people. if i'm not mistaken, it's 13 oz of prime ground chuck.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kevin
                                                                                                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                                                                                                      exilekiss Sep 11, 2010 11:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hi kevin,

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, it's definitely a big Burger. We easily split 1 Burger between 2-3 people amongst the survivors of our group during this run. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                      And according to 2 different servers and the manager they use 100% USDA Prime Sirloin. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: ns1
                                                                                                                                                                                e
                                                                                                                                                                                exilekiss Sep 11, 2010 01:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                Hi ns1,

                                                                                                                                                                                Nice! :) Thanks for the report back. Did you like the Morton's Prime Burger overall? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: exilekiss
                                                                                                                                                                                  n
                                                                                                                                                                                  ns1 Sep 11, 2010 08:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  I think I'm forgoing my burger addiction and going there once a month instead

                                                                                                                                                                                  it's so convenient (compared to say, FO)

                                                                                                                                                                              3. c
                                                                                                                                                                                CooperD Sep 10, 2010 04:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                GREAT Round up!! Are you vegetarian (at least temporarily!) after all the beef? Its been almost 6 months since your beefy voyage so maybe you're detoxed!

                                                                                                                                                                                I have to say the burger at Golden State is D-vine - and then with Virgil's root beer on tap? Forget it!. As is Morton's. I will have to try some of the others. I recently went ot Umami and I did like the truffle burger and I'm not really a truffle person.

                                                                                                                                                                                I found this today for a $5 Umami Burger. Thought it was a good deal.

                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.dealpop.com/west-los-angel...

                                                                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                                                                Umami Burger
                                                                                                                                                                                850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                                                                                The Golden State
                                                                                                                                                                                426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                                                                                                                                                M Restaurant - Hotel Metropole
                                                                                                                                                                                205 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704

                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: CooperD
                                                                                                                                                                                  wienermobile Sep 10, 2010 06:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  The Umami coupon is only good at the Santa Monica Location. $5 for an $11 coupon. A good deal for a good burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: CooperD
                                                                                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                                                                                    exilekiss Sep 11, 2010 01:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi CooperD,

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you. :) After this traumatic experience, I went straight to Rahel's and Shojin for more trips than I can remember. (^_~) I might be ready to try a delicious Burger again soon... :)

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm glad you liked the Golden State Burger (and yes, Virgil's Root Beer on Tap is pretty cool :).

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. m
                                                                                                                                                                                    mdpilam Sep 14, 2010 12:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Finally made it out to Rustic Canyon tonight (Monday burger night - woohoo!), and was impressed. I got one of the special burgers (choice between burrata burger or chilli burger) - the burrata burger, as I didn't want to get all chilli-burger messy. It came with burrata, cherry tomatoes and a pesto sauce. The bun was brioche and delicious, and held up pretty well. The beef was very good and beefy, though I think it was a tad on the medium side (ordered medium rare). Though if I had to have a complaint, it was that there were a couple times that the burger (beef patty) fell apart and out of the bun. But this was an all-around excellent burger, and definitely one of the best I've had in LA. It's hard for me to compare it to FO since I haven't had one in a while, but I'd say it is right up there with the Hatch burger at Umami, and maybe better than the other Umami burgers (which is my favorite burger place). I do think the beef is better here than at Umami, but the all around taste of the Hatch burger, just does it for me...

                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, and service was excellent, as well as the drinks (wine and beer, plus prosecco cocktails, which were delicious).

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mdpilam
                                                                                                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                                                                                                      exilekiss Sep 14, 2010 10:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hi mdpilam,

                                                                                                                                                                                      Sweet! :) Thanks for the report back. I'm glad you made it out to Rustic Canyon; I love their Burgers. :) I've never had their Burrata Burger but from your description it sounds lovely (Burrata, Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto - classic flavor combination :).

                                                                                                                                                                                      And like you, I really appreciate their USDA Prime All-Natural Angus Beef from Meyer Ranch, with Beef that's Certified Humanely Raised and Handled. It has a good, pure flavor coming through; some real delicate beefiness.

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