L.A.’s best burgers
A longtime secret-menu dinner classic, Animal’s cheekily named Boner Burger ($19) can also be found full-time on the brunch menu. It folds bone marrow into the patty—hence the name—but we’re pretty sure there’s another reason they went with that: An arrousing combo of melty jack cheese, caramelized onions, poblano peppers and Animal’s 420 sauce top the perfectly cooked patty, and it’s all sandwiched between two toasty slices of marbled rye. Schwing!
Yes, you could come to Barrel & Ashes for the ribs, but the BBQ joint’s burger is just as worthy. The Barrel Burger ($16) is a hefty mass held between a poppy seed bun and a steak knife plunged triumphantly through its center. Crispy bacon, oozing aged cheddar and sweet vidalia onions top what can only be described as the creamiest of patties—USDA choice beef that just melts with each bite. Uh, what BBQ?
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. You’ll know why you’re paying $15 for a burger ordered at a counter—or $18 at one of the full-service restaurants—as soon as you bite into Belcampo’s namesake version. The beef is rich and juicy, and the cheddar and caramelized onions piled on top only add fuel to the discussion that this has to be one of the best burgers in the city.
The Bellwether is a casual neighborhood spot from executive chef and co-owner Ted Hopson, who made his name crafting that famous burger at Father’s Office. Naturally, he added a burger to the menu here, too, and it’s no surprise that it’s a winner. Inspired by the traditional English ploughman’s lunch of cheese, pickles and bread, the Ploughman’s Burger features clothbound cheddar, Branston pickles and a juicy patty. Our only complaint is that the burger only appears for weekend brunch.
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. 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—because by God, Bill makes one hell of a burger. Just remember to bring some bills—Bill’s spot is cash-only.
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.
The crunch of the rye, the ooze of the cheese, the char of the grill—Cassell’s patty melt might just be the best in the city, so much so that just thinking about it makes us drool. This throwback burger joint has old-school charm in spades—we’re looking at you, rotating pie case—but it’s the simplicity of that third-pounder with swiss or cheddar and ample grilled onions that really takes us back to a ’50s burger counter.
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. Pro tip: Stop by at happy hour and find the miniature slider verions.
Unassuming but beloved by all, E.R.B.'s Single Burger ($10) is proof that less is more. 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, a special sauce and brioche bun, but OK, now that's it. It's the simple things in life.
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.
Alhambra’s metal-themed, meat-slinging burger shop doesn’t serve a single patty that’s not obscenely dressed. But the Napalm Death tops them all: a medium-rare, half-pound patty drenched in gooey pepperjack, pickled jalapeños and cream cheese, topped off with fried jalapeño poppers and habanero aioli. It’s what we’ll dine on when the valkyries carry us over the rainbow bridge to Valhalla (which may be because it kills us as we’re eating it).
You cannot eat the Whipper Burger ($11.99; $12.99 with cheese) at Hawkins House of Burgers without a fork and knife. It’s not possible. But while some behemoth burgers aim more for quantity than quality, the Whipper manages to encompass both. Two well-seasoned, tender patties are topped with a pile of expertly fried pastrami, along with sausage links that delightfully snap when you bite into them. It’s a mess. It’s kind of ridiculous. But it’s worth the half hour wait, the trip to Watts, and the judgmental looks that go along with ordering it.
A quick glance of this stacked-high burger shows that the name is certainly fitting. Between the fluffy buns you’ll find a mound of bacon-onion jam, dijonnaise, melted American cheese, an extra-thick beef patty, a juicy slice of heirloom tomato and a cluster of butter lettuce. Oh, and if that’s still not enough, feel free to add a fried egg, too—this burger’s only available at brunch, after all.
The not-so-secret menu at In-N-Out is rife with burger combinations, and fans of the burger chain will defend to the death their own go-to order. Here is our call: the Double-Double (Animal Style, obviously), boasting two griddled all-beef patties with lettuce, tomato, cheese and an extra helping of In-N-Out’s blessed thousand island-esque dressing, along with pickles and grilled onions. Argue with this classic, we dare you.
Sure, Michael’s popularized and even helped define California cuisine, but we’re hoping that executive chef Miles Thompson’s new lounge-only burger becomes just as synonymous with the spot. And at $13, it’s a steal and a meal unto itself (though we’re partial to ordering it with sides of the Nashville-style hot calamari). Thompson takes two hearty all-beef patties, then stacks them with cheddar and smothers the whole thing in a house-made BBQ aioli, then smashes it down for one hearty, hard-to-stop-eating special worth fighting over a spot in the lounge area.
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.
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; 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 bougie 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.
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. (We’re 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 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. (Just jump into the ocean, it’ll come right off.)