Here in L.A., opinions are like favorite burgers—everybody's got one. That makes the task of picking the city's best a difficult one, especially in one of the burger capitals of the world. After all, we're responsible for the start of McDonald's, as well as our beloved In-N-Out. We're also home to the gourmet-burger movement, where some of the most awe-inspiring toppings and patty blends arrive via hole-in-the-wall neighborhood spot or food truck just as often as they do the year's trendiest bistro. There are the classics that time blessedly forgot, where simplicity rules and all you need is a well-seasoned flat-top and a slice of American cheese, and there are the blends infused with bone marrow. So, who makes L.A.'s best burger? We intend to find out at Time Out L.A.'s first ever Battle of the Burger in September, but we're pretty certain you'll find it here on this list.
RECOMMENDED: Our guide to Battle of the Burger
Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo turned L.A.'s burger game on its head when they introduced their secret-menu Boner Burger, which stays true to Animal's adventurous spins on classics and comfort food with just the right amount of irreverence. Bid farewell to clear arteries because this baby arrives a meaty behemoth, with bone marrow blended into the short-rib and ground-chuck patty. Topped with poblanos and caramelized onion and oozing "420 sauce," it's messy, it's killer, it's absolutely one of the city's best.
When it comes to burger institutions, L.A. is stacked with them but almost none are as locally iconic at the Apple Pan, which turned 70 this spring. Age isn't slowing this classic burger joint down in the slightest—lines still form for this endearing time capsule, whose quality never budges. Sidle up to the counter and take a seat on a leather stool, where you can witness the friendly staff serving griddled patties for classics such as the Hickory Burger, which comes smothered with a smoky, secret-recipe hickory sauce that's somewhere in the BBQ family.
Leave it to Downtown's Indian gastropub to bring us one of the best—if not the number one—lamb burgers in the city. Each day, Team Badmaash grinds and seasons whole, free-range lamb legs in-house, then forms the flavorful mixture into patties and tops 'em with a paprika-cilantro mayo, onion, tomato and lettuce. Once you taste it, going back to beef might prove more difficult than you think.
As if this burger wasn't delicious enough, you get to enjoy it with a side of Echo Park Lake. This sunny café is located right along the landmark, which means you'll have a great view while you taste Beacon's plump American-wagyu patty with caramelized onions and garlic aioli. Add brie for a dollar more and watch it cascade down the burger's edges in all it's gooey, creamy glory.
We've got three words for you: foie gras mustard. Let that sink in for a minute. You good? OK, now it's time for the other words: Beer Belly's kitchen serves up seriously insane creations that could almost make us blush. The Duck! Cheeseburger is one such item, blending duck and bacon together before searing it and adding provolone, that absurdly good mustard, peach ketchup, arugula and red onion all before topping it off with onion brioche. Two more words: have mercy.
When a burger joint also happens to be a butcher shop, you're probably in for a good time. Such is definitely the case at Belcampo Meat Co., whether you're on West 3rd, in Santa Monica or strolling through Grand Central Market. Sure, Belcampo offers the totally respectable Fast Burger, which is for the thin-patty lovers, but if you want something swith a little more heft, spring for the Belcampo Burger with its thick, juicy patty topped with caramelized onions and cheddar.
Even if you're not a Studio City dweller, the visit to neighborhood hang The Bellwether is worth your trek. It's hard to go wrong with anything this casual, New American spot has to offer, especially at brunch, but it's only then you can order the Ploughman's Burger, a take on the British meal of the people. Find the juicy beef patty topped with Branston pickle and clothbound cheddar for a perfect sweet-salt-sharp meal that'll start your weekend off right (and maybe with a food coma).
Worlds collide at this German-Korean-American beer garden, where this international blend makes for one of the city's finest burgers. Find ground Angus chuck slammed with grilled spam, kimchi, gochujang aioli, mustard and pickled daikon, and, of course, that all-American classic, a melty slice of American cheese for a literal best-of-all-possible-worlds (or at least countries) creation.
A Bill's burger is a thing of beauty, much less a time machine. Take a bite and get transported to the mid-'60s, when this classic L.A. burger shack first fired up the flat-top. It was an era of simple burgers done well, and it's exactly what you'll find at Bill's, a Valley stalwart blessedly stuck in time. The bacon cheeseburger is exactly that: griddled burger, American cheese, crispy bacon. There's lettuce and tomato, and you can (and probably should) add grilled onion, but don't get too crazy; the idea here is simplicity.
Seasonal, artful plates dominate the menu at the New American Birch, but one of its standouts remains a pared-down classic: the patty melt. Unconventional in its breading—opting for an English muffin over sliced bread—it veers more traditional in its toppings: onion, dijonnaise and the ever-melty government cheese, achieving that high-low balance of gourmet burgers we love so much. Pro tip: find it for half the price during happy hour.
It's hard to find fault in Thomas Keller's acclaimed Bouchon, the Michelin-starred chef's award-winning brasserie, and harder still to find an imperfection in its burger, Le Burger Bouchon. It's almost deceptively simple: a blend of sirloin, chuck and brisket, it's flavorful enough that it needs no frills, simply lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and a house-made milk bun. Perfectly seasoned and aged, the meat takes center stage and proves a difficult item to overlook during any visit—a feat on Bouchon's menu.
What's in a name? For Fred and Max Guerrero, the self-proclaimed "burgerlords," it's telling: it's hard to argue that the pair knows burgers, and their pared-down setup proves that they know it's all in the execution. Find an In-N-Out-inspired menu here, with classics like the double cheeseburger—complete with their own thousand island dressing. The pair are also accommodating; there's even a vegan option for every meaty one on the menu.
You might be tempted by the steak frites at this charming Sunset bistro, but keep your focus on the burger, where the fennel-onion jam is literally piled onto a sizeable ground-chuck patty. Forget sliced tomato, because here you'll get seasoned confit tomatoes—conventional burger toppings be damned!—and you'll like it.
The Carving Board is the rare sandwich joint that nails both the sandwich and the burger—of course if you're a "hey-a-burger-is-technically-a-sandwich" diehard, then there's nothing remarkable about this feat, but bear with us—and in a quick-and-casual spot where cold cuts and house-roasted turkey reign supreme, it's nice to see them embrace America's between-buns pastime. (No, not hot dogs, the other one.) Find theirs an ode to simplicity: just-right melted cheddar, lettuce, tomato, thinly-sliced onion and a swipe of thousand island, all on brioche.
Located just a hop, skip and a jump from the original Cassell's, which dated all the way back to 1948, the new Cassell’s Hamburgers sits in the Normandie Hotel and its massive redesign. The move inspired an aesthetic trace back to the '50s-era heyday, which suits those grddled patties just swell. At the heart of the old-timey menu are the classic burger and cheeseburger, which use a chuck-and-brisket blend that's made daily using an old grinder original to the old Cassell's location. Wash them down with a milkshake, naturally.
Toluca Lake's literary-themed cocktail bar serves up library chic, but it also checks out in terms of bare fare. Its Black and Blu Burger walks that high-low line with crumbled blue cheese and a dripping of house-made BBQ sauce, while the more common pairing of grilled onions and bacon maintains burger normalcy, for those concerned about a BBQ-blue-cheese combo. (Spoiler alert: it works so well that it's a great reminder to not just read but eat our way through the menu all over again.)
The truffle trend may never fade away, and that's A-OK by us—especially if it means we'll always have access to Chomp's Truffle Burger, which tops an Angus burger made from grass-fed beef with arugula, tomato, pickle, provolone, caramelized onions and, of course, a potent truffle aioli. Double up on the truffle action by getting a side of their truffle fries, naturally.
We know the seafood at Connie & Ted's is where it's typically at, but hear us out: The Hook Burger is one of the best things on the menu, seafood or no. It's juicy, it's perfectly seared, it's topped with thousand island, pickles, onion and lettuce, and it's a burger we would eat daily if we didn't consider our health from time to time. The majesty doesn't stop there; it's parctically smothered with Hook's four-year-aged cheddar, which adds a sharpness of flavor to every gooey string that pulls from the burger to your mouth.
When the Counter's build-your-own burger options overwhelm you—there are hundreds of combinations, after all—it's OK to turn to the chain's signature burgers. In fact, we recommend you do because that's where you'll find the Bison is Gouda, where organic, ground bison meat hits the grill and then gets topped with all the things that are good in this world: smoked gouda, a bacon-onion marmalade, thousand island dressing, scallions, a runny egg and spinach, all sandwiched between brioche buns.
Putting Eggslut's cheeseburger on this list almost feels like cheating—this baby is all the best things about an Eggslut sandwich, and the only thing that separates it from the rest of the menu is, essentially, an Angus-beef patty. But fair is fair, and delicious is delicious; this here is a burger and yes, it's worth the line. It includes, of course, a cage-free egg—this time over-medium—which sits atop the burger with caramelized onions, cheddar and pickles, as well as a house-made dijonnaise. (Add bacon and avocado for a glorious stack.)
Everson Royce Bar's grade-A food menu is far from a well-kept secret, but this burger's so good we sometimes find ourselves wanting to keep its greatness to ourselves—for fear of them running out before we can get there. It's simplicity at its finest: a single gound-chuck patty made from prime beef covered in stringy, melty Tillamook cheddar. That's it. That's the whole shebang. Well, we guess there's also the dill pickle and brioche bun, but OK, now that's it. Simple, right? We'll be shocked if this one doesn't make the finals.
To call this burger "iconic" almost feels like an understatement. Chef-owner Sang Yoon was one of the first to give L.A. burgers a gourmet spin, and he did it with a now-famous but still-polarizing rule: no substitutions. No matter how much you may love ketchup, just order this burger and do it his way—you'll be glad you did once you sink your teeth into dry-aged beef topped with caramelized onions more akin to French onion soup than the simply-sautéed variety. Of course there's also arugula and blue cheese, and that garlic-butter-toasted bun. Wash it down with one of this gastropub's 30-plus beers and call it a night.
When you think "heavy metal," gourmet burgers may not come to mind, but in Alhambra, Grill 'Em All stacks award-winning burgers with some of the most outrageous(ly great) toppings and does it with the irreverence that only a metalhead could muster. The Napalm Death aptly strikes both fear and awe into our hearts by piling pickled jalapeños, pepperjack, cream cheese, habanero aioli and fried jalapeño poppers onto a half-pound of beef, which makes it the number-one (and only) jalapeño popper/burger combo—and the most metal entry—on our Top 50 list.
This Silver Lake burger shop is built on one thing and one thing only: formed-to-order burgers. Two different cuts of USDA sirloin go into these babies, which get charbroiled and topped with everything from spicy hummus to gruyere. Here, we celebrate Haché's basic option, which celebrates simplicity with American cheese, tomato, lettuce and "karma sauce"—this resto's take on thousand island. Don't skip the liquid-nitro frozen custard or those triple-cooked fries sourced from locally grown potatoes, either.
In the pantheon of L.A. burgers, the classics often reign supreme—and Hawkins is one of the city's all-time greats. Don't believe us? Ask the throngs of Angelenos lining up for these bargain-priced beauties on the reg. It's hard to go wrong anywhere on this menu, but today we point you to the mighty, towering Whipper Burger, which piles pastrami and a butterflied, griddled hot link onto two Angus beef patties. Add American cheese to tie it all together, but know that no amount of "tieing it all together" could possibly keep this baby from dripping and sliding around—you know what? Just grab a knife and a fork while you're up. Trust us, you're going to need 'em.
The Houston's burger is perhaps the ultimate dark horse of our Top 50. After being served for decades at this regional steakhouse chain, it's often left off best-of lists, overlooked in both its simplicity and reliability—but no more. This stalwart grinds fresh chuck to patty perfection for a flavorful base, then shreds iceburg lettuce, adds a thick round of tomato, a slice of cheddar, a dabble of raw onions and a few pickles for good measure. Expect that toasted bun to soak up the patty's well-seasoned juice every time, without getting too soggy.
Humble Potato is where American comfort food and Japanese comfort food reach a totally balanced bliss, and that's excatly what you'll find on the Kare Baga. Japanese curry that's been slow-simmered for extra flavor oozes over the Angus patty, but it doesn't stop there: the whole meal is brightened by Humble Potato's tangy yuzu-and-jalapeño slaw, and then in true #PutAnEggOnIt fashion gets topped with a sunny side up egg. Sure, between the curry and the runny egg you're going to need some extra napkins, but the mess is worth it, we promise.
This burger chain makes our region the envy of the entire nation—no small feat, and it didn't go unnoticed when we formed our 50 best. But let's be real: the list wouldn't be complete without it. Even Anthony Bourdain reveres its burgers, once going so far as to call the fast-food joint his favorite restaurant in L.A., and of course his order is the Double-Double. Plain or animal-style (an option since 1961), this two-patty perfection became a burger icon decades ago. Griddled all-American beef and melts American cheese before it's topped with onions—grilled or raw—plus lettuce, tomato, and the same sauce the chain's been making since 1948. Argue with this classic, we dare you.
Start with humanely-raised beef from Northern CA's Niman Ranch, then mix things up: each patty combines the farm's flank steak, short ribs and strip loin for a seriously elevated burger. The upgrades only get better from there: you'll find no raw tomato here, just one that's been roasted for, oh, 12 hours. Then there's the onion sautéed in champagne butter, and gruyère, plus some frisée (for those wanting to believe this could ever be diet-friendly). The Larchmont, ever accommodating, offers a pork-belly pastrami add-on, and at brunch, the option of a fried egg.
Leave it to Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne to ramp up a between-buns meal in so much style. Sure you can order Larder's standard beef burger (also good), but at the Tavern and Burton locations, find the fast-casual café's pork burger loaded with a blend of seasoned pork shoulder, chorizo and bacon—have mercy—topped with house-made romesco and aged manchego. (Diet be damned, don't skip the seasoned fries.)
Part of a burger's mastery is how well it balances muscle and fat, which is primarily what determines the patty's overall mouthfeel and texture. At Downtown's Ledlow, they achieve it not just with a great blend but by incorporating suet, a specific type of beef fat, which makes this patty melt in your mouth. Gooey additions of both cheddar and Emmental—a variety of Swiss cheese—plus garlic aioli bring this burger to creamy opulence, while green peppercorn mustard helps cut the richness while adding some zest.
The vibes are cozy in this Eagle Rock spot where husband-and-wife team Sean Lowenthal and Deborah Schwartz-Lowenthal sling seasonal, thoughtful dishes, and while much of the menu rotates, the burger is a mainstay. An almost comically large patty arrives between accommodatingly enormous buns with a healthy smear of bacon-and-red-onion jam. Fully aware that bacon and blue cheese are a perfect pair, the Lowenthals pile on a Maytag Blue aioli—but feel free to add extra blue cheese at no additional cost; that, or opt for cheddar or gruyère.
You'll find cocktails and a club scene at this speakeasy-inpired Koreatown bar, but what you might not have expected is that Lock & Key is also home to one of the area's most colorful burgers. Catch it on the right day and you'll find a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes atop that Angus patty, which also lays the foundation for American cheese, bacon, pickles, arugula and onion on a brioche bun. (Aces dance-party fuel if we ever saw some.)
Those who love to brunch will find this pick convenient—those who don't, not so much: Love & Salt's, melty, meaty, gooey, so-good-it's-insane burger is only available during brunch and the last hour of dinner sevice. What's more, only 12 orders exist at a time, so you'd better get to it before all the other burger-loving Angelenos craving two wagyu patties covered in fontina, tomato aioli, caramelized onions and house pickles order it before you do. May the odds be ever in your favor.
The House Burger is more than a nod to this restaurant's name, and even more than the "this-is-the-basic-model-we-serve" item that the name implies. When they say "house," they also mean house-made. Expect house-made American cheese, house-made burger blend, house-made bourbon onions, house-made remoulade, oh, and don't forget there's bacon, too, in case this massive beast wasn't meaty enough. Pro tip: stop by on Tuesday nights, when you can get it with an Old Fashioned for only $15—total score.
This cozy Miracle Mile burger spot serves up patties griddled to perfection at a bargain price—but first, you're going to have to wait for them. Each order takes a minimum of 12 minutes, but rest assured, it's well worth it. In that time, your Angus burger (three ounces for $5.50 or five ounces for $7.50) is sizzling and the cheese—American or cheddarjack, if you so choose to add for roughly $1 more—is melting over its edges. What results is a burger the Mo Better team has down to a science, and they've had years to get it just right; its predecessor, Mo Better Meaty Meat, was a burger institution as way-back as the early '90s.
What happens when a Michelin-starred chef launches a food truck? We all win. When Eleven Madison Park's Daniel Humm announced he'd bring his artfully stacked burgers, lemon-scented fries and godly soft serve to the streets of L.A., none of us knew just how good we were about to have it. The NoMad is this list's wildcard, a truffle-studded double chicken patty topped with frisée, crispy chicken skins, truffle mayo and pickled shallots that's so heavenly we couldn't imagine this list without it. Follow along on Instagram to find the truck's location and get a preview of the full NoMad restaurant, launching Downtown later this year.
Pie 'n Burger knows knows that when you've got a good thing going, sometimes it's best not to mess with it. This classic L.A. burger spot's been serving up that good thing since '63, offering griddled burgers using the same methods and sourcing—when possible—for more than 50 years. Careful when you lift these stacked burgers to your lips; they practically ooze that house-made secret sauce, so it's probably best to grab some extra napkins before digging in. (Just lookin' out.)
Plan Check Burger's PCB is everything we love about the gourmet-burger trend. High-quality meat? It's wagyu. What about artisanal toppings? How does Chef Ernesto Uchimura's "ketchup leather" sound, especially when we tell you it's made from fresh, dehydrated tomatoes for non-soggy-bun bliss? Care given to the bread? It's served on the "crunch bun," a panko-topped milk bread. It also features the umami-packed dashi American cheese, plus pickles and schmaltz onions.
Help, is it lunchtime yet??
The vibes at Pono Burger are laidback, with a hint of island hospitality at this Hawaiian-inpired regional burger chain. All beefy options start with a patty from pasture-raised, grass-fed beef, then get topped with everything from pea shoots to purple potato chips. But what we really love is the Paniolo, which piles bacon, smoked cheddar, thick onion rings and a Kona coffee BBQ sauce into a towering hulk of a burger. Could it get any better? It sure could: Pono sources almost entirely from small, local, organic farms.
This bistro burger/Big Mac hybrid arrives a picture of decadence so large and enticing you don't even know where to begin. (We recommend starting with a fork and knife; just admit defeat early, you'll wind up reaching for them later anyway. It's that or like 40 napkins.) This the high-low of gourmet burgers: soaking in a foie gras bordelaise, this thin-pattied beauty features bourgey ingredients while also sporting perfectly pedestrian American cheese. Factor in those caramelized onions and garlic aioli and you have one of the city's absolute finest—and messiest—burgers, bar none.
The Oinkster is Chef Andre Guerrero's playground, and it's on the Royale where he really lets loose. (But perhaps not as loose as our belts need to be by the time we're done eating it.) He starts with a 1/3-pound Angus patty and doesn't stop until it's stacked with pastrami, bacon, house-made chili, thousand island dressing, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles. Whew. No, napping under the tables, please.
We've been truly #blessed by the burger gods. First the East Coast chain launched in West Hollywood, then quickly expanded to Glendale, Hollywood, Century City and even LAX—all the better for us, because we've now got five locations to nab one of the best burgers in the entire nation. It's the pressed-burger ideal: crisped on every surface, yet still moist, seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper and made from hormone- and antibiotic-free Angus beef. Sure, you could go for the fabulous Smoke Shack (with bacon and cherry pepper) or get crazy with some portobello, but the classic—topped with nothing but lettuce tomato and that crack-like ShackSauce—is what we crave. There's a longstanding debate about which is superior, In-N-Out or Shake Shack, but we're fortunate enough that we've got both and don't need to take sides (except, of course, when you're voting in our Battle of the Burger).
Slater's 50/50 makes one of the city's best Frankenburgers. This blend-of-multiple-meats beauty is 50% ground beef and 50% bacon, which makes for 100% patty perfection. The sunny side up egg slides yolk down layers of pepper jack, avocado mash and a chipotle adobo mayo until you may just have to lick some off your hands. (Don't worry, we won't judge; we're right there with you.)
No doubt, Walter and Margarita Manzke's beloved La Brea bistro is one of the city's finest. But while the classic European dishes, Asian offerings or Margarita's so-pro pastries might catch your eye—and rightfully so—you're going to want to keep your attention on that behemoth burger made with grass-fed, dry-aged beef. It's a fabulous collaboration from the husband-and-wife team, with Walter helming the grill and Margarita baking that airy poppy seed brioche bun. Topping it with nothing but the classics—lettuce, tomato, American cheese and thousand island dressing—just lets the quality of that beef shine. (Heads up: find it at lunch and brunch only.)
Stout grinds its burgers in-house daily, so you know you're getting a freshly prepped burger that gets hit with blue cheese and gruyere—double the cheese, double the pleasure—plus caramelized onion, rosemary bacon (sweet Jesus), horseradish cream and tender slices of roasted tomatoes. What's more, all three of Stout's L.A. spots focus on California craft beer, with a few national brews for good measure, and house a knowledgable staff to help you wash down that glorious burger most deliciously.
Forget bread. This burger hopped onto the trend train and we're so, so glad it stuck around. Made from pasture-raised, grass fed wagyu beef and topped with green onions, terriyaki demi glace and a soft-boiled-egg spread—just trust us on this one—it's juicy, a little messy and entirely sandwiched between thin "buns" of ramen noodles with just the right amount of chew to them.
It's been 70-plus years and Tommy's still has it goin' on. In fact, the team at Tommy's reckons they've served more than 50 million hungry customers since the launch in '46. The name of this contender is a bit of a misnomer; yes, you're getting a cheeseburger, but burgers and cheeseburgers at Tommy's come standard with chili, and we wouldn't have it any other way. This heaping, messy meal comes dripping with the cult-classic Tommy's chili, plus mustard, pickles and raw onions—go for a triple stack, if you think you can handle it.
The Tripel Burger fast became one of Playa del Rey's must-order dishes, and it should come as no surprise. The acclaimed wife-and-husband team of Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts walk that perfect sweet-salty line with their new classic: a pork-and-beef patty with duck confit, topped with truffled pecorino, house apricot jam and peppery arugula, all on a brioche bun. It's sticky and sweet and so good that you won't even mind it when this delicious beachside burger runs down your hands.
There's something so genius in the simplicity of Umami Burger's Umami Burger—and it's the namesake for a reason. The genius comes by way of a thin, fried parmesan disk, which adds even, perfect crunch to every bite. Shiitakes add, well, umami, as do those caramelized onions, roasted tomatos and the smear of house ketchup. It hits nearly all the five tastes and makes us wish every burger spot's titular item were so flawless.