Often imitated but never duplicated, backyard pop-up gone permanent restaurant Burgers Never Say Die can largely be credited with sparking L.A.’s smashburger frenzy. Over the last two years, these stacks have caused so much commotion that they’ve wrapped three-hour lines around the block and once caused a fan to hire a person to wait in line for them. That success probably has something to do with founder Shawn Nee’s quest for perfection, and it’s paid off. Now, fans line up at this walk-up Silver Lake brick-and-mortar for buttery, paper-thin patties pressed so hard, the crisp edges almost resemble lace. Topped with pickles, raw white onions and a drizzle of ketchup and mustard, it’s like the best fast-food burger you’ve ever tried. Supplement with some CVT soft serve and a styrofoam cup brimming with fries, and it’s hard to imagine a more quintessential smashburger meal in L.A.
There’s almost nothing more intoxicating that the smell of a smashburger—except, of course, the taste. Angelenos are learning this quickly, as pop-ups and even established neighborhood spots start adapting to the style.
Smashburgers are hardly new, but they harken back to a bygone era in food when patrons reveled in the novelty of dining in their cars and all a burger needed was a good sear and a squirt of ketchup. Seasoned vigorously to tenderize and flavor the almost pancake-flat beef patty, this variety of burger sizzles in its own juices—pressed out during cooktime—and fries on a flat-top grill, practically caramelizing a thin outer shell of crust on the meat.
We’ve got to admit, the interest in simply-prepared and gloriously greasy smashburgers is a breath of fresh air, especially after we’ve eaten through decades of piled-high gourmet toppings and inches-thick patties almost too big to fit our mouths around. We welcome L.A.’s smashburger overlords, and while there are phenomenal diner burgers and smashburger-adjacent options almost everywhere you look, here are a few of the city’s best and newest additions for true smashburger bliss.