5056 Eagle Rock Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90041 (map); 323-478-1440; Facebook
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: An old-school, neighborhood diner serves an ordinary burger, but they do it with heart
Want Fries with That? Pass; try one of the Asian dishes instead
Price: Cheeseburger (w/fries), $6.95
How good does a burger have to be to be acceptable? I imagine this question, like so many about our beloved sandwich, evokes some full-throated opinions. I asked myself this question when considering the burger at Armon's in Eagle Rock. The now quinquagenarian diner that sits a few storefronts down from the Eagle Rock Boulevard and Colorado intersection is a frozen-in-time mid-century beauty. It has the formica perfection that I crave from a great American diner and some equally perfect American stories behind it. But does its very ordinary burger make for an acceptable midday meal?
I'd like to proclaim a definitive yes, but the burger politician in me compels me to say: depends. That is to say, it depends on your idea of acceptable. For me it's a sliding scale. Sometimes the pure quality of the ingredients will slide the burger into the safe zone. Sometimes it's impeccable execution. And sometimes it's just that I like eating it in the joint. Such is the case with Armon's.
There isn't anything special to report about their cheeseburger ($6.95). It's standard Americana sandwiching. Commercial beef portioned into just under six ounces or preformed mediocrity is matched with a commercial bun and some standard toppings. The lettuce tomato, onion and pickle aren't so much a choice as they are a mandate.
My burger came out well done despite my imploring my entirely appealing server for a medium-rare patty. Sigh. No surprise there. Still, it wasn't entirely without juice and it showed a hint of crust from the griddle. The toppings were satisfactory and that was just fine. A slathering of mayo added some extra fat and the commercial bun, as I they usually are, was just great.
The fries were also just fine. Krinkle cut and frozen doesn't make for a bad side, but it also means they're going to be just ok. It all added up to an average burger at what seemed to be an average restaurant.
But I noticed an odd collection of offerings on the last page of the menu. A handful of Asian dishes. My server, from Thailand, explained that the last two sets of owners were Chinese and Thai. And the cooks? Mexican. Welcome to America.
The chicken stir fry was actually fresh and, if not entirely inspired, the best thing I tasted. It made me think I could come back and hear some more about this diner that had fostered so many American dreams. Yes, it was an acceptable cheeseburger.