Like Ahab chasing his white whale or Quint on the thrashing tail of Jaws, I had been doing my best to track down the elusive burger truck for weeks, having spotted it in my neighborhood one lazy afternoon. Despite my voyages though the neighborhood of West Los Angeles, just a little shy of the swarming 405 freeway, I came up with nothing, the burger truck a fleeting ghost in my life. In Los Angeles, we have more than our share of taco trucks, so this phantom purveyor of transportable burgers seemed an anomaly, a natural progression from south-of-the-border quick cheap eats to the northern cuisine enjoyed the world over.
Thar She Blows! I pride myself on a healthy lifestyle. In order to bring you the best and brightest of L.A. burgers, I must maintain a good diet and an intense workout regimen. So it was that I awoke one morning and made a quick trip to Vons Supermarket to replenish my supply of Grape Nuts and almond milk. Driving home, I spotted the burger truck on a nearby block. My heart skipped a beat. I dashed to my apartment to snatch my camera and went off again, the sounds of K-Day blasting Tupac in my ears, "I ain't a killa, but don't push me ..."
Spotting the truck, still at its drop-off point, I locked onto it and drove forward. As I approached, it must have seen the voracious intent in my eyes, as the driver slammed on the gas and made a break for it. I flipped a fast U-turn in plain view of the local police station, and the pursuit was on. Across Iowa and down Sawtelle, I pursued my prey with thoughts of ground beef on my brain. At one point, an interloping Acura came between us, and I worried I would lose my target. Once that problem disappeared in a few minutes, we hit the busy throughway of Olympic and following the burger truck's suicide left, I was hot on its azz and close enough to catch a phone number on the backside of the truck (right). I placed a call to the confused owner and found out the next stop would be a construction site on Greenfield.
Sure enough, we planted ourselves on the aforementioned street, Martin's Burgers in front of a half-built house, myself in a red zone with motor running. I approached the kind owner, Martin, just before a rush of hardworking Mexican and Central American fans joined the queue. I placed my order for a cheeseburger, then questioned Martin as to how he developed the idea for the first hamburger truck I'd ever seen.
"I used to work over at Big Joe's burgers, and I wanted to name my truck Little Joe's before being told that might be a problem. So I named it after myself, Martin (pronounced Marteen)." Simple enough, now how about that burger?
The Belly and the Beef Five minutes and $2.50 later, my cheeseburger was in my hands and ready to be devoured in my illegal parking spot. The burger was slightly bigger than medium size, about perfect for a filling lunch. My first bite of Martin's mobile burger pleasantly surprised me. It was good, great even. A coarse patty with slightly charred ends and gooey American cheese poked out of its white wax wrapper. Very juicy with a charbroiled taste, just enough lettuce and a tasty dollop of mayo had me happy I'd eschewed the Grape Nuts for a burger at 11 a.m. The mayo was perhaps too plenty for some tastes, but the tomato and lettuce toppings and thin layer of cheese mixed well with the nearly hot patty and soft bun. Juice and yummy grease oozed out of the patty, ruining my diet but completing my life. Martin's burger is much tastier and fulfilling than many I've sampled at stands and chains who claim they have "the best burger in town."
Sometimes it's the thrill of the chase that gets us burger bloodhounds all revved up. In this case, the quarry was just as satisfying. If you can't find Martin's Burgers on your block, give them a call at 310-422-9337 and see where he'll be next. We are yet to arrive at the Pico-Union address Martin's gives for his burgers, but maybe they are available and just as good over there. We shall soon see!
Location: Mobile throughout Los Angeles or 924 W. Washington Blvd. 90015
Price: Cheeseburger, $2.50
Short Order: The first burger truck we've ever seen and quite tasty at that