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Burger reviews in the Los Angeles area.

The Fix Burger in Silverlake, California, Is Good But Still Trying to Get It Right

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The Fix Burger

2520 Hyperion Avenue Silverlake, CA 90027 (map); 323-661-8494; thefixburger.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: A friendly, affordable neighborhood joint that offers good (not great) burgers that won't compromise your environmentalist credibility
Want Fries with That? Yes. They are a solid choice, but onion rings are a special treat
Prices: 1/2-pound hamburger, $7.45; 1/4-pound Mini Fix with cheese, $6.45
Notes: Open daily 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Plenty of non-beef burger options make this a good choice if you want your meat and happened to burdened with meat-averse dining partner

The east side of Los Angeles has is a huge swath of land running from the iconically dangerous edge communities of downtown ("The boyz n the hood are always hard") north to the posh suburban landscape that has itself become a movie star though its job is to dissimulate its identity. (In the movies, many a quaint street in Anytown, USA, is really just one of these Los Angeles byways). Of course, "the east side" is distinct from what most people mean when they say "Eastside." The latter is a catchall for a group of communities (Silverlake, Echo Park, and Los Feliz) that has become a destination for young urbanites looking for a cheap residences and, more recently, skinny jeans. It's full of hipsters and artists and wannabes like me. (Of course, I can't wear anything with the word "skinny" in its description.) It also has broad immigrant and first generation communities. It's my favorite part of town and is now where I live.

You see, I've recently moved. Even as I write this the crush of moving still lives and breathes in the mess of boxes and furniture that are piled up around me. There is nothing pleasant about moving—one can only find redemption in that abstract foreknowledge of what transition brings. Waiting on the other side of all of this is something more: something bigger and someone better. It's a new home, a new life, a new love. Of course, there must be a new burger waiting for me nearby as well.

I decided to take a ride down to one of Silverlake's main drags, Hyperion Avenue, where a new spot called The Fix Burger has opened. It's not more than a five-minute drive from my front door, which is perfect for my impatient appetite.

Welcome To The Neighborhood

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Photographs of sign and interior taken by Tim Hirata.

Located in a small storefront location next to a gym (really), The Fix Burger immediately announces itself as a styled, contemporary take on the burger joint. The exterior signage is retro and, well, cool. The interior is a minimalist beauty. Gleaming, polished concrete floors are dotted with a just a handful of two-tops and aluminum chairs. If looks all glossy and new, that's because it is—The Fix arrived to the neighborhood just a few months before me.

The menu is a bounty of choices. Not only do you have the standard, high end, build-your-own-burger options, but you can also order ostrich, buffalo, or veggie patties. There are some salads and chicken options too. I'd be a little thrown by all the possibilities for constructing the burger myself, but the very first menu entry solves this problem. The Fix Burger is an eight-ouncer with tomato, lettuce, red onion, and mayo. Yes, that will do nicely.

A Family Affair

While my burger cooks, I catch up on the restaurant's short history from the wholly affable counterman Mike Whipple. The owner is Paul Joo, a young, handsome man who looks like he spends more time next door at the gym than in a kitchen. Up until recently, that was true. He's not a lifelong food guy. In fact, his most recent venture before The Fix was a high-end retail shop in the Valley called Maxine. Now he's flipping burgers. What gives?

Turns out this Brazilian born retailer has some burger pedigree: His cousin owns Pearl's Deluxe Burgers in San Francisco. Paul did his time behind the griddle there before moving to Los Angeles. Now Paul, his wife, and their daughter (and twins on the way!) have staked their dreams on a version of the family recipe in this contemporary burger enterprise.

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When thinking about what he wanted his restaurant to be, Paul thought of his new additions. The Fix is designed to be yummy comfort food that thinks about its impact. You can find declarations of The Fix's ecological concerns everywhere. The meat is certified humane and all of the disposable items are recyclable. I don't kid myself into thinking that my carbon footprint isn't American-sized when eating a hamburger, but certainly it's nice to try on a smaller shoe once in a while.

A Burger In Becoming

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20090107-thefix-burger-open.jpgThe burger arrives in a metal basket lined with wax paper and is impressively pretty. A fluffy, sesame seeded bun is a perfectly shaped and the high quality lettuce, tomato, and red onion announce themselves with their sheen. The patty is beautiful to look at. Paul made the (very right) decision to griddle his burgers—even better, he makes sure to give them that fantastic crust delivered by a proper griddling. When I bite into the sandwich I am met with the very good, but not great results of all the apparent care and thought that went into this sandwich.

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The bun is nicely buttered and lightly toasted from the griddle. The lettuce, tomato and onion are crisp and balanced, the onion being a standout if only for being cut paper-thin. The meat is properly cooked, but it's just not giving me that hit of juice and fat that I want. Although being made of 80/20 grind from Meyer's All Natural sounds right, there is just a little something amiss. After a few more bites it hits me: The grind is too fine. The texture of the meat isn't allowing that fifth of fat to unleash all of this burger's potential. When I go for a second burger (this time a 1/4-pounder because I'm dieting) the addition of American cheese helps the cause, though I'd have preferred the patty mashed more thinly. In any case, the addition of the fat is welcomed.

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The other players in this lunchtime drama are all solid. The french fries are slim-cut and fried in soybean oil. They could have a whisper more flavor, but it would probably mean the addition of trans-fat, which is not a welcome guest at The Fix. Paul makes up for this with a sprinkle of parsley and some good seasoning. The homemade onion rings are especially good—they have a severe crunch, which is my preference. I wash it all down with a Capt'n Eli's Root Beer. Yes, this is the kind of place where you can get artisanal sodas. This is my first Cap't Eli's and it's surprisingly good. It has a great dryness and lacks the cloying sweetness of the big bottler root beer that makes me give up halfway through a can.

My late lunch winds down with a pleasant chat and anxious thoughts of what waits for me at home. There's still work to do: boxes to unpack, a new life to begin. As I head home I think through my Fix Burger experience. It's a new restaurant and is still dealing with its growing pains. Their burger wasn't superior, but rather seems a work in progress. Then again, so am I. A work in progress, that is—each day spent trying to get it right and falling short in some manner. My new neighborhood burger spot is, perhaps, fairly described in a similar way. The Fix burger is trying to get it right and doing it in a way that is mindful of how it does it. Mindful of the desires of our present while balancing them against the needs of our future. The Fix and I are both trying hard to become something great for the people we care about most. I'll give us both many chances.

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