6613 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028 (map); 213-743-8800; luckydevils-la.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: A relative oldster in the high-end burger scene is still making some solid, premium burgers
Want Fries with That? Pass; the triple frying technique insures crispiness, but diminishes the flavor of these spuds
Prices: Lucky Burger, $8.50 (Kobe patty, +$3) ,The Diablo, $11
It's hard to believe that Lucky Devils has been around for over ten years. I remember when it first opened and was talked about for two reasons. First, the owner, Lucky Vanous, was well-known for being the beefcake, object-of-desire in what, for a certain generation, could be called a famous Diet Coke ad back in the Nineties. Vanous had traveled the world as an elite, anti-terrorist Army Ranger and then as a model (I'm not making that up). He landed in Los Angeles in search of an acting career and instead found a restaurant career based on a mixture of his Midwest American upbringing and world travels. He was, as you'd imagine, part of the hype about the place.
More germane to our ongoing conversation here at AHT was the second reason people were talking about Lucky Devils: the premium burger. At the time, making a high-end burger the centerpiece of your menu as Lucky Devils did was a novelty (rather than the cliché it's become). Certainly it gets credit for being ahead of the curve, but how does this early entry into the high-end burger game stack up to the crowded field of contemporary competitors? Pretty well, actually.
I started my burger lunch with the house burger, The Lucky Burger. It's a classic construction of cheddar (white in this case), lettuce, red onion, and "super secret sauce." You get to choose between Angus, "Kobe," or grass-fed patties, and in a strange turn of events I was drawn to the "Kobe" since a friend had specifically recommended it to me.
The flavors of this burger came together really nicely. I liked the simple construction and lack of tomato. The secret sauce is a mayo-based sweet sauce (think Thousand Island) that is a way above average version of the traditional burger condiment, and the cheddar had a smooth and even melt. Although the brioche bun wasn't nearly as objectionable as I thought it would be, it suffered some of the weaknesses (flakiness, sweetness) of that class of bun. The beef was, as expected, full of fat, and nicely seasoned, but lacked beefy flavor.
Their spicy burger, The Diablo, comes with white cheddar, double-smoked bacon, avocado, wild arugula, house Thousand Island, and "devil hot sauce." I went with the Angus and was rewarded for my choice—it's definitely the patty to go with. (They'll only cook the grass-fed well done, so it was disqualified from the competition.) It had a full-blown, beefy taste (despite being overcooked) and a nice medium grind. The spiciness wasn't overwhelming and the avocado added some welcome fat. It didn't come together as well as The Lucky Burger, but it'll satisfy the spicy burger eaters in your group.
I tried the triple-fried fries, which I thought sounded decadent and would perhaps reveal a technique that would change my french fry preference, but alas, they were a disappointment. The triple frying ensures crispiness, but there's a complete absence of silky potato interior and the flavor, oddly, tilted toward fish sticks.
Lucky Devil's never broke out as a major restaurant here in Los Angeles and perhaps that's not surprising. There isn't much about the menu and execution that feels exceptional. That said, their solid preparation of premium burgers at decent prices means it's also not surprising that they've lasted over decade.
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