Although I live in New York City I spend quite a bit of time in Los Angeles, which gives me the chance to explore all that the City of Angels has to offer in the way of hamburgers. And that is an awful lot. As a friend who lives in L.A. stated, "NYC has pizza; we have burgers." Indeed, the proliferation of burger spots across the L.A. landscape is heartening for any lover of America's favorite sandwich. I have recently reported on the Apple Pan, Pie N Burger and Fred 62, so here is a quick roundup of some other burgers that I have tried in L.A.
There is surely no burger more synonymous with the Southern California style than the venerable and ubiquitous In-N-Out Burger chain. If I fly into Burbank, the Sunset Boulevard location is usually my first stop from the airport. While most people go for doubles, I prefer the simplicity of the single. I have also recently discovered Animal Style fries (topped with cheese, spread, and grilled onions), which make for an interesting diversion from the standard. If you have never eaten at In-N-Out, it should be your first stop in L.A.; if you have been there, it probably already is. 7009 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood CA 90028 (map; numerous other locations); 800-786-1000; in-n-out.com
If I end up flying to Los Angeles instead of Berkeley, I usually stop off at the world famous Pann's Restaurant on La Tiejera as my first stop from the airport. You are probably familiar with Pann's even if you have never dined there as its classic and authentic 1950s look makes it a popular shooting location for films (for example, it was the location of the the opening scene in Pulp Fiction). While Pann's offers some wonderful fare such as chicken and waffles, chicken fried steak, and amazing pancakes, I often go for their burger. Inspired by the famous Bobcat Bite in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this fresh ground USDA Choice burger comes piled high with lettuce, tomato, onion, and Ortega green chilies on a homemade bun. It may not be the best burger around—the patty is perhaps a little on the svelte size—but it is far from the worst, and the unique and delicious green chilie topping make it worth the visit. 6710 La Tijera Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90045 (map); 323-776-3770; panns.com
Rick's Drive In-N-Out
In many ways the burger at Rick's fulfills the Burger King ideal of offering flame grilled burgers your way. Fresh, never frozen beef is charbroiled and served on a sesame seed bun with the standard accoutrement. Rick's might not be the most glamorous joint—in fact the decor looks like it has not been updated since they opened in Silverlake back in the early 1980s—but they offer decent burgers at a very decent price. A quarter-pound combo with fries and a soda clocks in at $5.49. 2400 Fletcher Drive, Los Angeles CA 90039 (map); 323-660-5988
Although Fatburger is a chain with numerous locations, it maintains it ideals of offering "fresh lean beef, not frozen patties—cooked-to-order"—the same way they've been doing it since 1952. A friend recommended Fatburger but warned me that one needed to pile on the toppings. Indeed, when I ordered a plain burger I was thoroughly disappointed—the overseasoned patty was dry and leathery and got lost in the bun. It wasn't until I tried a standard burger that comes loaded with lettuce, onions, tomato, cheese, green relish, mayo, and mustard that I began to understand why this burger might be appealing. The synthesis of all the ingredients was certainly an improvement over the plain burger. I may not be a fan, but Fatburger does offer a unique expression of the hamburger. 1611 North Vermont Avenue, Hollywood CA 90027 (map; numerous other locations); 323-663-3100; fatburger.com
In Videos: 'Burgertown' Explores L.A. Drive-In Burger Scene
Pie 'N Burger a Purely Californian Experience
Apple Pan: 'Quality Forever' in Los Angeles
In Los Angeles, Fred 62's Jucy Lucy Is Like In-N-Out on Steroids
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