I write this now with a crazy craving that is taking over my entire body. I think I have a problem. Seriously, back in NC, I would get the occasional temptation to have a burger now and again, along with mac-and-cheese, chocolate and ice cream. But then I moved here and what was a infrequent visitor now has moved inside my belly permanently. It taunts me with constant thoughts of delicious, grass-fed beef that drive me to Yelp pictures of different burger joints closest to me.
The California burger is just something else. Truly. There is no better burger in all the land. And LA is full of them. It has somehow successfully found out a way to convince consumers that you can eat an burger and still be healthy just because it's "gourmet." Throw in words like "grass-fed angus" and some vegetarian and vegan options on the menu and it's marketable to everyone.
My first three weeks in LA I had a burger basically every other day. When I realized that my arteries were clogging up, I have now gone vegetarian except for the sole one day a week that I eat meat– which I mostly reserve for burgers. I can't help it; it's my not-so-guilty pleasure because it's so darn delectable. Anyways, I've eaten at enough burger joints that I've decided to rate them from best to worst. And when I say burger joints I mean gourmet, aka not In-N-Out Burger or Fatburger or any of that fast food nonsense.
And the nominees are:
Freaking. Mouthwatering. Deliciousness. I went here once every week for the first three months in LA, no joke. It also does not help my midsection that it is a mere two blocks away from my apartment. When my two best friends came to visit me from North Carolina (on two separate occasions), I brought them to dinner here right after I picked them up from the airport. The menu is minimal, but makes a point to pair beers (they have a LOT on tap) with their burgers. What they don't have on the menu is the Truffle Burger, a secret that has remained one except for loyal customers (like myself) probably so they don't have to make it all the damn time. The only thing that would compete with the Truffle Burger are the oregano-seasoned fries, which come in a huge bowl and is more than enough for two to share. This is my favorite restaurant in all of LA.
2. Juicy Burger:
This close second is a business that blew up after local foodies started raving about the burgers on Yelp. They consequently were voted the #1 Best Burger in LA on CitySearch and has been marketing themselves as such every chance they get. Their menu options are more expanded than Stout, and also include healthier choices like a lettuce wrap as opposed to a bun, or a chicken sandwich instead of beef. Add the hand-cut fries and their obsession with dipping sauces, and this joint is the perfect remedy for any Saturday afternoon hangover.
3. Burger Lounge:
Voted "LA's Best New Restaurant" in the LA Weekly, it ironically dubs itself the "best original grass-fed burger," which is undoubtedly false. That being said, it does make one bangin' American burger. It's prices are surprisingly cheaper than the other restaurants despite that they have a location in Beverly Hills. It also serves the most scrumptious quinoa salad I've ever had. Usually I would say that choosing a salad over fries is complete bollocks, but it serves as an actually a worthy opponent. And in the case that you DO choose fries, you can get the "half" size portion instead of the full.
4. Umami Burger:
Can someone say Truffle fries?! Seriously, if you put the word "Truffled" before anything, I will eat it. It's guaranteed to be lip-smacking good. Umami is one of those burger joints that California is known for, which brings in a crowd mixed with tourists, locals and pretentious foodies. They even brand their buns with their logo, which is a bit much. Nevertheless, it's definitely worth a bite.
5. Go Burger:
A great restaurant, but I wouldn't say a great one for burgers, if you know what I mean. This is the kind of place where the burgers are overshadowed by things like alcohol milkshakes, and salads (we all know a real burger joint would never put something like salads to distract people from the main event). It's also a bit pricy, though the portions are fairly big.
6. The Counter:
The place where they encourage alcoholism and obesity. What is it with the obsession with alcohol milkshakes? Is it just because it disproves the taboo that milk and liquor don't go well together? Needless to say, I used to stuff my face here during breaks from work downtown but I rank it at the bottom because I see it as an amateur in a room full of professionals. The only distinct difference it has from the rest is that it is great for the picky eater. If you don't want to be limited by menu options, this is the place to go because they take the phrase "create your own" VERY seriously. They also like to hire a DJ to play upbeat music during rush hours, so there's that.
And that folks, is what I call AMERICA! *said in Bush accent*