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Jonathan Gold's favorite LA Burgers

Jonathan Gold's favorite Los Angeles burgers list came out today in the LA Times. It includes The Apple Pan, Aroma Cafe, Chroni's Famous Sandwich Shop, Comme Ça, Connie & Ted's, Cora's Coffee Shoppe, Father's Office, Pie 'n Burger, Plan Check, and the Spice Table. Wait a minute.... The Golden State not included. Your thoughts or additions....

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  1. gotta say, i have never understood the appeal of apple pan or pie 'n' burger.

    16 Replies
    1. re: FED


      Really gross stuff from both.

        1. re: PeterCC


          apple pan kinda lousy.
          but pie n burger still works. just tastes good as a whole sandwich.

          1. re: linus

            when last i had an apple pan burger (years ago) the dam they used on the grill allowed so much grease to stay on the grill that the burgers were essentially deep fat fried in burger grease.
            not my cup of tea.

            1. re: westsidegal

              shoot, you may be on to something.

              That's why so many might like it too:

              It has possibly that deep fried flavor to it.

              I'm pretty sure there is nowhere else in LA (not to be confused with La. or Tenn. where they deep fry their burgers in a vat of purest oil).

              1. re: kevin

                A guy got up and left just before I sat down at the counter. Seemed unhappy. The waiter told me the guy said he had a heart condition and wondered what he could eat. The waiter told him the burgers were "deep fat fried." Guy left. I stayed.

        2. re: FED

          I was just explaining this to a friend who's in town for the week. He's going to Apple Pan on his own.

          1. re: FED

            The hash browns at Pie N Burger are really good.

            1. re: FED

              Nostalgia is a large part of the appeal of Apple Pan and Pie 'n Burger. If your family's roots run deep in the Westside or San Gabriel Valley, you probably have a soft spot for these comfort places

              1. re: Ernie

                4 generations of Apple Pan nostalgia here on the westside. We all love the "The Pan."

                1. re: maudies5

                  I'm for the most part with you, except for the prices.

                  1. re: kevin

                    They taste great and don't cost double digits. That makes me happy. I love the crisp lettuce, relish, and best of all, HECTOR!!

              2. re: FED

                Are the burgers at Pie N Burger cooked to order, i.e, can I get it rare, or is just cooked ala fast food places?

                1. re: granadafan

                  Cooked to order, but it's hard to get a thin patty much less than medium.

              3. GS stopped being a CH fave when the previous chef left IMO

                9 Replies
                1. re: ns1

                  really ? there was a change in the quality of the burger in the past year ?

                  1. re: ns1

                    I just thought he left one off (a la Mori) to chum the waters.

                    1. re: PeterCC

                      i read or saw an interview with anthony bourdain where he said the best way to find the best ------- in a place was to post on the internet how good some lousy place for ------- is.
                      the responses will then point you in the right direction.

                      1. re: PeterCC

                        a la Chef Francis Mori? With his Original Sushi Hamburgers. 26 Beach has been doing gourmet burgers for 30 years, long before the burger craze started! www.26beach.com

                        1. re: Burger Boy

                          Sorry, I meant Mori Sushi and JGold's sushi list. But I do enjoy 26 Beach's burgers.

                          1. re: Burger Boy

                            sorry to get you out of your burger slumber. :)

                            BB, these days want new joints have you been enjoying for burgers.

                            And anything new on the quirky/eccentric/eclectic burger front at 26 beach cafe that you quite enjoyed ?

                            1. re: kevin

                              Not Really, The Habit for fast food, tried Eureka the other day, it was good, bun was weak, burger was okay if you are in the hood but would I make a trip for it, not really!

                              1. re: Burger Boy

                                do yu like the morton's burger ? plan check ?

                                And what did you ever think of the Apple Pan ????

                      2. Do you know who makes a fucking awesome burger that no one is talking about, but should?

                        Orchards in Whittier.

                        If you like your burgers with truffle that, avocado this, lettuce this, bacon over there, tomato over here, and covered in garlic aioli or housemade ketchup whatevers, then don't bother.

                        This is primal shit. House ground special blend (sourced from the adjoining butcher shop b/c that's what Orchards is by the way), grilled to your liking, and served in a basic hamburger bun. Cheese totally optional.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I'll stick with the food, hold the shit. You are so fucking right on this.

                        2. What night does Shrergio cook at Chroni's?

                          Jonathan's explanations for his choices in article:


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: PeterCC

                            Shergio ?

                            That's not one of the chosen burger spots.

                          2. Where them hood burgers be?

                            Hawkins House of Burgers
                            Mom's Burgers

                            1 Reply
                            1. In n Out
                              Go Burger

                              1. 26 Beach get's snubbed again. They have been making burgers on house made buns for 30 years. Some of the burgers they did 20 years ago, people are claiming as their original creations. The real kicker is the Sushi Hamburgers, yes you heard it right, sushi on a hamburger! www.26beach.com

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Burger Boy

                                  It's a lot on one bun, but it is fun to eat.

                                2. my favorite's are at Plan Check, especially the Blue Print Burger -- cooked perfectly medium rare and juicy every time. I am glad they are opening up on Fairfax.

                                  Demerits for Wolfgangs and Golden State for overcooking my burgers to well done each time ive been. At least Golden State was nice about it and fixed them. Wolfgangs not so nice (wasted potential there, my opinion).

                                  Agree that Apple Pan is vastly overrated for the burgers -- but not the pie!

                                  I know myself and some others here enjoy the one at mortons downtown (bonus that the the cellar restaurant gets spotty cell phone coverage at best for minimal collateral agita while enjoying the beef).

                                  I enjoy the thinner burgers at In n Out, Carneys and Marty's (on Pico near Rancho Park). they make for good 2 burger meals unlike some of the monsters (and important at in and out cuz the fries stink)

                                  Also overrated: Umami and Short Order -- maybe it's the grass fed beef or whatever but i find the beef flavorless. Ive had much better burgers at dupars if you're at 3d and Fairfax.

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: jessejames

                                    "(bonus that the the cellar restaurant gets spotty cell phone coverage at best for minimal collateral agita while enjoying the beef"

                                    is this a cellar at morton's downtown ?

                                    What do you mean by spotty cell phone cvg min collateral agita ????

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      It is downstairs below that 7th and Fig spot so no reception last time i was there. It is a nice spot to escape the corporate rat race and enjoy a burger with no calls, texts, emails etc. which eases the digestion of the large and tasty burger. I like the bar area best.

                                      1. re: jessejames

                                        I see you are right.

                                        You have to go down the stairs or the elevator to get to the restuarant.

                                        yeah, it's a great burger and fun time at the bar. very civilized.

                                        1. re: jessejames

                                          and for the quanity and the quality and superb taste, it's quite a deal compared to other gourmet burgers around town.

                                          1. re: kevin

                                            i couldn't agree more. it's a lot bigger and better and beefier than the competition. I wish it was closer to WeHo. Haven't heard great things about the mortons at the SLS - but i should give it a shot.

                                            1. re: kevin

                                              kevin, if you like that burger, try the one at the grill on the alley. It is similar and tasty, albeit a bit more pricy.

                                              1. re: jessejames

                                                i'm presuming at morton's it's 15 or 16 bucks still and at the grill it's about 25 to 27 bucks for the burger ????

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  not that brutal - cheeseburger 16.95 at grill but that might have gone up a bit since this menu http://thegrill.com/wp-content/upload...

                                                  mortons - 17 bucks with fries


                                                  1. re: jessejames

                                                    problem is i always have to get the crab louise when i hit up the grill.

                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                      burger, chicken pot pie, corned beef hash, soft shell crabs, they have a nice menu

                                                      1. re: jessejames

                                                        i've never tried their soft shell crabs ? can you describe further ?

                                                        and it always reminds me of a more modernized, cleaner atom, younger waitstaff version of musso's.

                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                          floured, sauteed crisp and served with a lemon/butter kind of sauce and mashed potatoes...you can sub what veg or potato you like, i like spinach

                                                          i agree the old waiters, the uniforms and the table cloths etc like mussos

                                      2. i kind of miss cassell's too.

                                        any word on a re-opening ?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: kevin

                                          Should be later this year when Hotel Normandie & Cassell's both reopen. From LA Eater "they'll be re-developing the menu and modernizing it for younger tastes. They're looking to add some creative milkshakes and other classic diner touches to the old-school concept. However, they will retain much of the original equipment and methodology that went into creating Cassell's "gourmet" burgers made from ground prime chuck beef and house-made sauces."

                                        2. How can Spice Table be on this list? Do they have fact checkers at the LAT?

                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: Ciao Bob

                                            The Spice Table makes a pretty good signature cheeseburger, and one of the few burgers that I will tolerate with cheese (just wish it wasn't American cheese)

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Maybe I need the fact checker...isn't it out of business?

                                              1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                They have definitely downsized their editorial crew.

                                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                  Spice Table? They were open about 5 days ago. Did it shutter in the last 4 days?

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    i think bob is referring to the news about spice table losing their lease, right? aren't they shutting down to make room for the new Metro Line / Station? so i guess they're "dead man walking" unless they find a new place.

                                                    1. re: chowseeker1999

                                                      I blew this one big time - I thought they had closed a few years ago after some plumbing issues, and had plans to relocate but they never did...and that is because they were only shut for a short time...but I missed it! Happy to know it.

                                                      1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                        Actually, you were sort of right.

                                                        Ng is relocating Spice Table b/c of the train, but that's been in the works for nearly a year now. So who knows. They're still there.


                                                  2. re: Ciao Bob

                                                    Is Villetta still in business? Website is down. Drove by there today and yesterday and lunch was definitely closed. OTOH,Farmshop was packed. I know this is OT, so I will mention that I am surprised that Jonathan Gold did not mention Rustic Canyon's (off menu) burger. Love that burger. Still not a fan of Jeremy Fox.

                                                    1. re: maudies5

                                                      Me too.

                                                      And their fries with the duo of dipping sauces; one possibly a remoulade were possibly even better.

                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                        Had the Rustic Canyon Burger a couple of weeks ago.So good. Is that burger on Bucato's menu?

                                                      2. re: maudies5

                                                        "Is Villetta still in business?"

                                                        Yes, they are open for business. Don't know why the website is down. They are serving lunch again beginning Sept. 1st AFAIK.

                                                2. I am very glad Chroni's in East LA got some love. It is an old family favorite. Good hot dogs too

                                                  1. Truxton's in Westchester has amazing burgers. Big, juicy, perfectly cooked, in lots of creative combinations, or just plain. Delicious.

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: joshfree

                                                      We're getting one of those in Santa Monica. Should be interesting to check out.

                                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                        I believe Truxton's is now open in Santa Monica.

                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                            Thanks, geez I leave for a few weeks and look what happens.....

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              Truxton's in Santa Monica -- burgers are on the expensive side? are they 8oz? Can they do a medium-rare with a sear? Do they come with fries/side?

                                                                1. re: wienermobile

                                                                  Oh dear, was this place left behind in the last century? I hate to dis on a place I have never set foot in...... But that menu makes me think of the '90s.

                                                                  Can anyone who has eaten there give me a review of sorts? I was a little excited about trying it, but now I think I may have to adjust expectations a touch.

                                                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                    It's a westchester institution, very popular but the TGIFriday's comparison is very apt. It does well because the food feels 'safe' decent quality American food and it doesn't really have the competition that it will have in SM. The place feels chain and the last thing I ate there was an over priced 'west LA' Bahn Mi, which whatever but there was no creativity no twist or extra interest to make it special.

                                                                    I'm sure the SM one will look nicer, but if the menu is the same I would just skip it.

                                                                    1. re: AAQjr

                                                                      Thanks for the details, appreciate it.

                                                          2. re: joshfree

                                                            Are Truxton's "wagyu" sliders a good resemblance of the burgers? If so "juicy, perfectly cooked, in lots of creative combinations, or just plain. Delicious" do not apply. At all.

                                                            It's an upscale TGIF, at best.

                                                            1. re: TonyC

                                                              I was gonna say Cheesecake Factory. I Haven't eaten there, can't judge the food, but that's what the menu reminded me of.

                                                              1. re: PeterCC

                                                                Either way, both the food and decor scream over priced chain food. The last time I went I had a 'bahn mi' that was not good and 3x the price of Mr.Baguette. If you are going to spin it at least have a point of view and do something interesting with it justifying the price

                                                          3. Tried Bill's Hamburgers on Oxnard in Van Nuys yesterday...really tasty - like a in-n-out burger, but a lot more flavor!

                                                            As for JG, I don't get him. His reviews give me very little sense of the experience or the food - I'm not even sure what he likes. And his descriptions do not make me want to eat - phrases like "sluiced with a meaty, emulsified chili" or "lavishly greased with Hook's cheddar" turn my stomach.

                                                            1. Boulevard Burgers. Judging from what J.G. does like, this place would be beneath him. It's a hidden gem that I've been talking about for a few years now. Don't take my word for it; read the reviews of others and check out their menu. They'll fix it any way you like, including raw, if you want. Give it a try; you've nothing to lose except the few bucks it'll cost.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                And an excessively Gordo belly :)

                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                  Sadly, it's no longer available to me since moving to Vegas.

                                                              2. This is the worst Jonathan Gold list ever

                                                                14 Replies
                                                                1. re: echoparkdirt

                                                                  awesomist post ever. can someone post a list of the best and worst jonathan gold lists?
                                                                  its so...so...meta.

                                                                  1. re: linus

                                                                    JGold's best lists: When you agree with the choices

                                                                    JGold's worst: When you disagree

                                                                  2. re: echoparkdirt

                                                                    Really wish SIV would start reviewing again. Yes, i know this is spitting in the wind but she does MUCH better fact based reviews and he would do a great job as a general food columnist, which is almost what he does anyway.

                                                                    Bring back the stars!

                                                                      1. re: AAQjr

                                                                        Could not disagree more. She was horrible and terribly predictable.

                                                                        1. re: Thor123

                                                                          I agree with Thor.

                                                                          And most of the time she hates everything.

                                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                                            That is why I like her! She is 'critical' of the food she reviews. Even when you don't agree with her you have been left with enough information to form your own opinion.

                                                                            JG is a GREAT food writer but a very poor critic/reviews. To me he comes across as a beagle all over the page all slobber. You end up knowing a lot about 3 dishes on the menu, but nothing about the wait service, cleanliness or the rest of the menu.

                                                                            1. re: AAQjr

                                                                              spot-on, then.

                                                                              She's a critic in the classic sense. We are all waiting for her to retire, and then we'll bemoan how all we have left is a foodie lyricist.

                                                                              1. re: TonyC

                                                                                A foodie lyricist ?


                                                                                But S. Irene seriously hated most everywhere she reviewed. I guess that makes her a critic in the truest sense.

                                                                                By the way, now they have her on the fast-food beat.

                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                  >>But S. Irene seriously hated most everywhere she reviewed.<<

                                                                                  I agree. What Rex Reed is to movies, SIV is to LA restaurants. Not much seems to motivate her to say positive things about restaurants. And for me, I didn't really seem interested in many of the places she'd write up. I do like her wine notes. She obviously has a great love for wine.

                                                                                  Jonathan Gold takes in a much broader span of eateries, and often takes things further where he will dive pretty deep into a particular cuisine, and even a particular cuisine's dishes. Anyway, they are two totally different types of food writers. With that said, I think once you get a feel for both, one can grasp from their reviews what will or won't work for you personally. And what poster JAB mentions should be noted:

                                                                                  "Let's please note that this is JG's favorite burgers and not LA's best burgers ala the SGV lists."

                                                                              2. re: AAQjr

                                                                                i manage to enjoy both writers, and don't think they vary that far in their approach.

                                                                                as for the notion mr. gold does not cast a critical eye and express that in his reviews, well, i consider that horse and buggy thinking.

                                                                                1. re: linus

                                                                                  It is a slight exaggeration of course but he -does- gloss over things like service, cleanliness, decor (and the rest of the menu) ect.. because ultimately they are not as important to him as two or three great and/or obscure dishes from Asia or Italy. That is just his style.

                                                                                  His style is what makes him great and gives me the point of view that he is miss-cast as a reviewer/critic. JG is a food adventurer, Lyricist (I like that), columnist. What I do like about him is really knowledgeable, passionate about what he loves, and it is usually worth checking out a place he likes for that one great dish. Then going out to eat.

                                                                                  I just want to feel that the whole restaurant and that whole restaurants experience has been reviewed.

                                                                                  Got to go my hansom cab is waiting ;)

                                                                                  1. re: AAQjr

                                                                                    it's possible service, cleanliness and decor issues are not as important as the food to mr. gold, but it's poor form of me to speak for him.
                                                                                    and i don't think he's less of a "critic" because he doesn't necessarily address them as fully as you would like.

                                                                                    myself, i can't remember ever asking anyone about the cleanliness of a restaurant when wanting a review.

                                                                                    i get as much, if not more, of a the "whole" of a restaurant from mr. gold as i do any restaurant critic. i think he's cast just fine.

                                                                                2. re: AAQjr

                                                                                  i disagree with the statement that she hates everything. i think if you'll read the reviews, you'll find that she rarely slammed anyone. i do think she has a more dispassionate tone ... she doesn't enthuse very much. to me, when almost everything in food is overhyped, i found this refreshing. ymmv, obviously.

                                                                        2. I've been banging on the table for Standing Room in Redondo Beach for best burger and fries in LA area. But it can't seem to get any momentum around here!

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: echoparkdirt

                                                                            It's ok but not great. The uniqueness and novelty of a gourmet burger joint within a liquor mart is primarily what it's all about.

                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                              Regarding the burgers at Standing room, I agree with Kevin. It's good but not worth going out of your way.

                                                                              This review of Standing Room by a blogger who posts on Chowhound reflects my view:


                                                                              1. re: Norm Man

                                                                                Although I respect that blogger's posts. He also puts Smashbuger and Five Guys among the top 10 LA burgers. Proving that tastes are all over the place.

                                                                                1. re: Jase

                                                                                  I agree with the gentlemen above... I was excited to try Standing Room and felt my burger was was meh at best... There was no restraint in flavor. (and I say this a HUGE fan of Chego's burger) It was just a mess...



                                                                          2. Let's please note that this is JG's favorite burgers and not LA's best burgers ala the SGV lists.

                                                                              1. re: medicine

                                                                                B & R Burgers for the Royale burger.

                                                                              2. How does the Apple Pan get on there and not Golden State!

                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                                                                                  JG also has a certain nostalgia towards the Apple Pan since he was devouring those burgers since Lew Alcindor was playing college ball.

                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                    i think if you were to do a "pie chart" (heh heh) of people who love apple pan and their reasons why, "nostalgia" would take up about 98% of it.

                                                                                      1. re: wienermobile

                                                                                        Especially with a side of sentimentality.

                                                                                        1. re: wienermobile

                                                                                          +1. I am a sucker for nostalgia but absolutely love that Hickory Burger more than any other burger any where. Just to be clear, I would rather have that burger that any designer burger in LA.

                                                                                          1. re: maudies5

                                                                                            Put me down for a Hickory Burger; easy onion & lettuce, sweet pickles instead of dill, fries and an ice tea. Yum.

                                                                                        2. re: FED

                                                                                          Maybe. I'm not a native and I think it's the best representative of an old-school, lunch-counter burger. Sure, the Father's Office burger may be objectively tastier, a special at Pono Burger may be more interesting in the moment. But it scratches an itch that I don't think nostalgia alone can explain away.

                                                                                          I'll say this: most of the time I want a plate of well-executed, painstakingly regional pasta at a place like Sotto. And sometimes I want a plate of spaghetti with red sauce and giant meatballs from a place like Alejo's. Is one better than the other? Of course! Is there a place for both? Sure!

                                                                                          1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                            I grew up in SoCal and lived a stone throw from Will Rogers State Beach (Channel Road). Throughout my teen years we alway ate at Roy's, now Patrick's Roadhouse. That is where I learned to love skinny beach burgers done on a grill. Apple Pan is so similar, but without the little jukeboxes on the tables.

                                                                                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                              Nice reply cacao e pepe. I could not agree more.

                                                                                              1. re: maudies5

                                                                                                There's always a place for economic "comfort style" food and burgers. I'm not always in the mood to pay $10 plus for a fancy burger and don't mind a well seasoned and prepared cheap-o burger with greasy fries sitting on a plastic stool.

                                                                                              2. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                maybe its an east side/west side thang, because i find pie n burger vastly superior to the apple pan in that -- god kill me for writing this -- "genre" of burger.

                                                                                                1. re: linus

                                                                                                  I admit, with shame, that I haven't partaken in the Pie n Burger experience. That said, I have a very wide space in my heart for that "genre" (I am now complicit) of burger. I'm certain that I'll have room for both the Apple Pan and the Pie n Burger iterations in my life.

                                                                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                    I absolutely think there is room for both Apple Pan and Pie 'n' Burger. Very glad they both exist.

                                                                                        3. I had a surprisingly good burger today at The Getty Villa...

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: manku

                                                                                            There's something inherently wrong about seeing the words "Villa and burger" in the same sentence...(g)

                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                              Why ?

                                                                                              What's wrong with a villa burger ?????????

                                                                                              Pray tell.

                                                                                          2. Bashan's in Glendale has an outstanding burger that is only served on Sundays----a blend of filet mignon and beef short rib served on a brioche bun.