Over the past weekend I went to several hip Los Angeles burger spots with a friend from New York. Two of my personal favorites, Father's Office and Umami Burger, are world-class. These burgers engage my palate without leaving me wanting any added flavoring.
My buddy, however, repeatedly complained about being denied the opportunity to doctor up his burgers with the usual accoutrement of mustard, ketchup, and relish—condiments not offered by these establishments (and in the case of FO, abhorred). I tried explaining to him that a gourmet burger is chef-prepared and that an artisan wants you to experience their product precisely as he or she intended. My friend glanced at me with the "Are you serious?" look that New York made famous. He responded that even the most fancy-pants steakhouses, if asked, will still bring you a bottle of A-1 to go along with an overpriced porterhouse.
As much as I wanted to continue the fundamental disagreement at hand, at this point the burgers arrived at the table and nobody can (or wants to) argue with a mouth full of gourmet ground beef. There seems to be a divide within the burger community on the importance of topping choice—on which side of the patty do you fall? Take the poll after the jump »
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.