Meet your contenders for Battle of the Burger 2017

For Time Out L.A.'s first Battle of the Burger, we proudly present the top 50 burgers in Los Angeles
Whipper Burger at Hawkins House of Burgers
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman Whipper Burger at Hawkins House of Burgers
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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

Boner Burger at Animal
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Boner Burger at Animal

icon-location-pin Fairfax District

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.

Hickory burger at The Apple Pan
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, American

Hickory Burger at The Apple Pan

icon-location-pin Westside

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.

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Spiced lamb burger at Badmaash
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Indian

Spiced Lamb Burger at Badmaash

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Beacon
Restaurants

Wagyu Burger at Beacon

icon-location-pin Echo Park

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.

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Photograph: Courtesy Beer Belly
Bars, Gastropubs

The Duck! Cheeseburger at Beer Belly

icon-location-pin Koreatown

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.

The Belcampo Burger from Belcampo Meat Co. at Grand Central Market
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Hamburgers

The Belcampo Burger at Belcampo Meat Co.

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

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.

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Ploughman's Burger at The Bellwether
Photograph: Marie Buck
Restaurants, Gastropubs

Ploughman's Burger at The Bellwether

icon-location-pin Studio City

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).

Photograph: Courtesy Biergarten
Bars, Wineries

Chosun at Biergarten

icon-location-pin Koreatown

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.

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Bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions and side of potato chips at Bill's Burgers
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Bacon Cheeseburger at Bill's Hamburgers

icon-location-pin Van Nuys

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.

 

Restaurants, Seafood

Patty Melt at Birch

icon-location-pin Hollywood

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.

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Photograph: Courtesy Bouchon
Restaurants, French

Le Burger Bouchon at Bouchon Bistro

icon-location-pin Beverly Hills

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Burgerlords
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Double Cheeseburger at Burgerlords

icon-location-pin Chinatown

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. 

Stella burger at Café Stella
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Bistros

Stella Burger at Café Stella

icon-location-pin Silver Lake

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. 

Photograph: Courtesy The Carving Board
Restaurants, Sandwich shops

Chophouse Burger at The Carving Board

icon-location-pin Hollywood

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.

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Burger at Cassell's Hamburgers
Photograph: Victor Leung
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Cheeseburger at Cassell's Hamburgers

icon-location-pin Koreatown

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.

Catcher in the Rye
Photograph: Alyse Gilbert
Bars, Cocktail bars

Black and Blu Burger at Catcher in the Rye

icon-location-pin Toluca Lake

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.)

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Photograph Courtesy: Chomp Eatery & Juice Station
Restaurants, Juice bars

Truffle Burger at Chomp Eatery

icon-location-pin Santa Monica

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Connie & Ted's
Restaurants, Seafood

The Hook Burger at Connie and Ted's

icon-location-pin West Hollywood

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.

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Photograph: Courtesy The Counter
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Bison is Gouda at The Counter

icon-location-pin Santa Monica

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. 

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, American creative

Cheeseburger at Eggslut

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

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.)

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ERB burger
Photograph: Erin Kuschner
Bars, Cocktail bars

Single Burger at Everson Royce Bar (ERB)

icon-location-pin Downtown Arts District

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.

Burger at Father's Office
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Office Burger at Father's Office

icon-location-pin Culver City

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. 

Napalm Death at Grill 'em All
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Napalm Death at Grill 'Em All

icon-location-pin Alhambra

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. 

Photograph: Courtesy Hache LA
Restaurants

Karma Burger at Haché LA

icon-location-pin Silver Lake

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.

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Whipper Burger at Hawkins House of Burgers
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Whipper Burger at Hawkins House of Burgers

icon-location-pin South LA

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Houston's
Restaurants

Cheeseburger at Houston's

icon-location-pin Pasadena

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. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Humble Potato
Restaurants

Kare Baga at Humble Potato

icon-location-pin Culver City

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.

Double double at In-N-Out
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Restaurants, Fast food spots

Double-Double at In-N-Out Burger

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.

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Photograph: Courtesy The Larchmont
Restaurants, American

The Burger at The Larchmont

icon-location-pin Central LA

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.

Photograph: Courtesy The Larder/Rob Stark
Restaurants, Sandwich shops

Triple Pork Burger at The Larder

icon-location-pin Beverly Hills

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.)

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Photograph: Courtesy Ledlow
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Griddled Cheeseburger at Ledlow

icon-location-pin Skid Row

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Little Beast
Restaurants, American creative

Little Beast Burger at Little Beast

icon-location-pin Eagle Rock

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.

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Photograph: Courtesy Lock & Key
Bars, Cocktail bars

Big Burger at Lock & Key

icon-location-pin Koreatown

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.)

Photograph: Courtesy Love & Salt
Restaurants, Italian

The Downlow at Love & Salt

icon-location-pin Manhattan Beach

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.

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Photograph: Courtesy Magnolia House
Bars, Cocktail bars

House Burger at Magnolia House

icon-location-pin Pasadena

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.

Mo Better Burgers
Photograph: Courtesy Mo Better Burgers
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Angus Chuck Burger at Mo Better Burgers

icon-location-pin Central LA

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.

Restaurants

The NoMad (Chicken Truffle Burger) at NoMad Truck

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.

Cheeseburger at Pie 'n Burger
Photograph: Michael Juliano
Restaurants, Diners

Cheeseburger at Pie 'n Burger

icon-location-pin Pasadena

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.)

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The Plan Check Burger at Plan Check
Photograph: Courtesy Plan Check
Bars, Gastropubs

PCB at Plan Check

icon-location-pin Fairfax District

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??

Photograph: Courtesy Pono Burger
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Paniolo Burger at Pono Burger

icon-location-pin Santa Monica

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.

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Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mike C.
Restaurants, French

Big Mec at Petit Trois

icon-location-pin Hollywood

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ryel C.
Restaurants, Diners

The Royale at The Oinkster

icon-location-pin Eagle Rock

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.

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Photograph: Courtesy Shake Shack
Restaurants

Shack Burger at Shake Shack

icon-location-pin West Hollywood

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
Photograph: Courtesy Slater's 50/50
Restaurants, Gastropubs

The Original 50/50 at Slater's 50/50

icon-location-pin Pasadena

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.)

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Photograph: Courtesy République
Restaurants, French

Dry-Aged Beef Burger at République

icon-location-pin La Brea

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.)

Photograph: Courtesy Stour Burgers & Beer
Restaurants, Gastropubs

The Stout Burger at Stout Burgers & Beer

icon-location-pin Hollywood

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Tatsu Ramen
Restaurants, Japanese

Wagyu Ramen Burger at Tatsu Ramen

icon-location-pin West LA

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.

Original Tommy's Hamburger
Photograph: Courtesy Original Tommy's Hamburger
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Cheeseburger at Original Tommy's Hamburgers

icon-location-pin Westlake

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.

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Photograph: Courtesy Stephanie Breijo
Restaurants, Gastropubs

The Tripel Burger at The Tripel

icon-location-pin Playa del Rey

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.

Photograph: Courtesy Umami Burger
Restaurants, Hamburgers

The Umami Burger at Umami Burger

icon-location-pin Fairfax District

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.

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