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Put Me in Coach vegan burger sports bar in Highland Park
Photograph: Time Out/Stephanie Breijo

The best burgers in Los Angeles

Classic, onion-packed, pastrami-topped or gooey with melted cheddar: Bite into these burgers whenever you’re flat-out craving some flat-top comfort.

Edited by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
Written by
Erin Kuschner
&
Stephanie Breijo
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Sure, we all love our veggie burgers and fried chicken sandwiches, but sometimes nothing replaces a classic, beefy burger. With that in mind, we set out to track down the best burgers in L.A. We scoured retro greasy spoons to fancy French bistros—and, yes, even some nostalgic fast-food fare—to find the best burgers around. Just add a side of French fries and you have the makings of an all-time great meal. You might want to grab a few extra napkins before you devour this list.  

The 26 best burgers in L.A., ranked

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

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 is the high-low of gourmet burgers: Soaking in a rich bordelaise, this thin-pattied beauty features bougie ingredients while also sporting perfect, 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, and it's available at both the Hollywood and the Sherman Oaks locations.

A shining, beefy example of L.A.’s smashburger trend, Love Hour slings crisp-edged, pressed-thin patties on potato buns with a handful of topping options “for a good time.” You can find these singles, doubles, triples or more—someone’s even done a 10-patty burger—in the old Beer Belly space on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, where their stand can turn things into a parking lot party. Love Hour also offers a range of absolutely killer seasoned fries, tossed to order in flavors like BBQ, garlic-parmesan, and sour cream and onion, making for the ultimate burger-and-fries combo. Recently they've added a take-home kit, too, so you can always have Love Hour on hand for a good time.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 2 of 4

This is a burger purist’s platonic ideal. Unassuming but beloved by all, E.R.B.’s Single Burger is proof that less is more. Nearly impossible to savor slowly, this burger disappears in seconds, probably due to that perfect balance of salty, juicy medium-rare beef to squishy bun to dairy. No visit to this Arts District bar is complete without ordering at least one for the table, but good luck leaving without ordering another. E.R.B.’s single is simplicity at its finest: a solitary gound-chuck patty made from prime beef that gets 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 an eggy brioche bun, but OK, now that’s it. It’s the simple things in life.

  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Highland Park
  • price 1 of 4

Goldburger’s Allen Yelent gives fans the best of both worlds: a still-juicy center but ample crust on the patties, which are always stacked double; the meat is more pressed around the edges than some of the city’s other smashburgers, providing plenty of texture in every bite. The namesake Goldburger comes standard with American cheese, a garlic-mustard aioli, pickles and perfectly charred grilled onions, but everything here is worth a try—especially the L.A. special, which comes topped with pastrami (always add chilies to this one). Yelent’s now permanent Highland Park location gave us a few new sweets, too: Look out for slices of pie in flavors like chocolate chess and cranberry apple custard.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • West Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

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 practically 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 slider verion at a fraction of the price.

When you bite into Adam Contreras’s Radburger, you might detect an extra hint of char and smokiness—that’s because the Lucques and Sqirl vet cooks over a Japanese charcoal grill, imparting layers of flavor into the pressed-thin beef patties. Of course there are layers of flavor in those layers of seemingly simplistic toppings, too: What look like plain diced white onions have actually been soaked with koji first, and there are caramelized onions hidden under American cheese that’s been simmered in stock; this creates a rich, creamy sauce that blankets everything between the Martin’s potato bun. Served in an old-school wax paper bag and stamped with the word “RAD,” this is a playful and elevated throwback. Find Radburg popping up regularly at Melody; for dates, details and other appearances, follow along on Instagram.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Westside
  • price 1 of 4

This West L.A. institution has somehow managed to escape time. Burger patties sizzle on the griddle that’s been around for decades (since 1947, to be exact) and get served by friendly waiters that seem to have been around for just as long. Everything's aces, but we're partial to the smoky Hickory Burger, which comes slathered in secret house sauce (think: sugary, smoky tomato). Pair with an order of crispy fries served in a paper cone, and save room for a slice of house-made apple pie (á la mode, all the way).

  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Pasadena
  • price 2 of 4

Pie ’n Burger 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 thousand island, and the lettuce, tomato and onion are so packed in that they practically spring out. If you're really hungry, opt for the Big Ben: a double patty that's stacked extra high. It’s probably best to grab some extra napkins before digging in. (We’re just lookin’ out.)

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  • Restaurants
  • Fast food spots
  • price 1 of 4

Come on, how could we not? 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 mustard-griddled all-beef patties with lettuce, tomato, cheese and an extra helping of In-N-Out’s blessed thousand island dressing, along with pickles and grilled onions. Argue with this classic, we dare you.

  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Silver Lake
  • price 1 of 4

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. These stacks caused so much commotion that they’ve wrapped three-hour lines around the block and even caused a fan to hire someone 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, the Regular (a double patty) is like the best fast-food burger you’ve ever tried. Supplement with some CVT soft serve and a styrofoam cup brimming with beef-tallow fries and you've got one of the best, most nostalgic meals in L.A.

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  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Koreatown
  • price 2 of 4

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, whether you’re in K-town, DTLA or Rancho Park.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

L.A.’s home to a lot of gastropubs, but a gastropub that nails a perfect burger? Now that’s more of a rarity. At neighborhood spot Electric Owl, the smashburger is king. The patty—made from wagyu and dry-aged beef—is a little heftier than the smooshed-thin kin you’ll find cropping up around town, but it’s got a perfect, even char, and comes draped in house-made American cheese. Top it all off with pickles, aioli and griddled shallots, then throw it onto a fluffy bun, and you’ve got yourself one of the city’s most underrated burgers, smashed patty or not. (Note: Electric Owl even offers a healthier variety, made with a blend of Impossible Foods’ “beef” and regular beef—for half the cholesterol.)

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  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Van Nuys
  • price 1 of 4

A Bill’s burger is a thing of beauty, and what's more, it's 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.

  • Restaurants
  • Californian
  • Santa Monica
  • price 2 of 4

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 might 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, whether in Santa Monica or Culver City.

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  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Santa Monica
  • price 1 of 4

The burgers at HiHo aren’t groundbreaking in flavor, but they’re practically groundbreaking when it comes to sourcing: The meat is entirely wagyu, grass-fed, non-GMO and non-antibiotic, and the beef comes from cows raised by the certified-humane collective First Light Farms. The result? Tender, perfectly seared beef that almost melts on the tongue and is easy on the conscience, too. You can go either double or triple (sorry, no singles here), and either classic (cheese and ketchup only), or as the mustard-grilled HiHo standard (onion jam, cheese, house-made pickles, ketchup and lettuce). Either way, it goes best with a side of those hand-cut, twice-fried fries.

  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Chinatown
  • price 1 of 4

Alvin Cailan returned to Far East Plaza, but this time around, the chef’s Amboy restaurant isn’t serving Filipino food—it’s all about burgers. Reborn as Amboy Quality Meats & Delicious Burgers, Amboy now serves as a combination burger counter and butcher shop. The made-to-order burgers are available in more straightforward varieties such as the classic double, with caramelized onions and American cheese, as well as the higher-end gourmet: If you’re looking for smashburger reprieve, try Amboy’s DH Burger, which stacks a 10-ounce dry-aged–beef patty with provolone, garlic-confit mayo, pickes, and caramelized onions. It’s massive, takes about 20 minutes and swings back toward hearty burger maximalism.

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  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Eagle Rock
  • price 2 of 4

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.) The Oinkster patriarch 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. It's a classic L.A. burger, in more ways than one: It nails the simple throwback fast-food ingredients, then adds pastrami, another civic staple. Whew. No napping under the tables, please.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Studio City
  • price 2 of 4

Combining a classic flat-top patty smothered in American cheese with a bit of a gourmet twist, Studio City’s mid-century-inspired spot brings us one of SFV’s top burgers. This burger has flipped from one patty to two and back again, but whatever the number might be on your visit, the meaty pile gets brightened by pickled Fresno chilies while a few grilled green onions add even more texture and char. Each bite is nostalgic while still feeling fresh. It’s all served on a garlic-aioli–smeared potato bun, which is impossible to argue with.

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  • Bars
  • Gastropubs
  • Sawtelle
  • price 2 of 4

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?

  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Compton
  • price 1 of 4

Beneath that curbside blue roof and tiny protruding sign lies Compton’s most beloved burger joint attracting locals and beyond. Perhaps this neighborhood greasy spoon is named Mom’s Burgers for its backyard barbecue vibe—with a little added frill, of course. Their Colossal, for example, isn’t your average American classic; meat-lovers flock to this gritty menu concoction stuffed with handfuls of savory pastrami atop thick patties. Find scores of muchies-approved favorites at this small, casual dive.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Echo Park
  • price 1 of 4

This is a neighborhood bar, through and through—but that doesn't mean there isn't great food, too. The handful of cocktails lean classic, but not as classic as our favorite item on the menu: the Lowburger, one of the absolute best smashburgers anywhere in town (and available for under 10 bucks). The Lowburger's patty is pressed so thin it practically disolves with a little crunch, the American cheese runneth over, the red pepper jam adds a hint of sugar and heat, and there's a rich, salty-sweet pile of grilled onions nestled under the potato bun to diversify it from the onslaught of smashburgers popping up around town. Go wild here by adding an extra patty or opting for some of the newer versions or vegan options.

  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Alhambra
  • price 2 of 4

Alhambra’s metal-themed, meat-slinging burger shop doesn’t serve a single patty that’s not obscenely dressed, and the Napalm Death tops them all. A medium-rare, half-pound patty gets drenched in gooey pepperjack, pickled jalapeños and cream cheese, then it's all 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).

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4

The lobster rolls rightfully get all the shine here, but don’t overlook the seafood shack’s turf when you’re stopping by for some surf. Rich and deep in flavor thanks to shio kombu—along with that American cheese and caramelized onion—Broad Street Oyster Co.’s beach burger is hearty and worth an order, especially considering the quality of the meat. Niman Ranch provides high-end beef for these patties, which sear on the flat top to a perfect crust before getting sandwiched by brioche buns and all its dressings. Want to spruce it up? You can even add Nueske’s bacon, a fried egg and avocado—or all three, if you really want to go big.

  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • Historic Filipinotown
  • price 1 of 4

Tommy's has earned cult status in L.A. thanks in part to its famed double chili cheeseburger. Two well-seasoned beef patties, cheese, pickles, a glop of hearty chili and a thick slice of tomato have kept this chain going since its first store opened on Beverly in 1946, and still draw crowds at more than 25 locations in California. Not into chili? They're open early for breakfast burritos and hash browns as well.

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  • Restaurants
  • Hamburgers
  • South LA
  • price 1 of 4

You cannot eat the Whipper Burger at Hawkins House of Burgers without a fork and knife. It’s just not possible. And 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 and the curious looks that go along with ordering it—and the additional curious looks from fellow diners when it lands on your table.

  • Restaurants
  • Steakhouse
  • Venice

While the full steakhouse offers farmers-market sides and dimly-lit vibes, American Beauty’s casual walk-up window is a sunny—and affordable—taste of the restaurant. It also happens to serve one of the best smashburgers in town, especially for the price: For only $3.95 you can snag a straightforward, wholly satisfying single patty with American cheese, house sauce and grilled onions on a potato bun just a few blocks from Venice Beach. Really hungry? The double will only set you back $6.25.

See the best burgers in America

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