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. From retro greasy spoons to fancy French bistros—and, yes, even some nostalgic fast food fare—these are 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.
L.A.'s best burgers
The burger at Ludo Lefebvre’s Petit Trois might be the most buzzed-about bistro burger in town—and it's certianly among the sauciest. This knife-and-forker tops griddle-seared beef with melty artisan cheese, garlic aioli studded with bits of pickle, and a buttery brioche bun. And then there's the sauce that made this burger a social media sensation and food-world star: Foie gras-infused red wine Bordelaise. It just doesn't get much more decadant than this.
Yes, you could come to Barrel & Ashes for the ribs, but the BBQ joint's burger is just as worthy. Served only at lunchtime, the Barrel Burger ($15) is a hefty mass held between a poppy seed bun, a steak knife plunged triumphantly through its center. Crispy bacon, oozing Swiss cheese and sweet onions top what can only be described as the creamiest of patties—meat that just melts with each bite. Uh, what BBQ?
You'll know why you're paying $15 for a burger ordered at a counter as soon as you bite into Belcampo's namesake version. The beef—organic, sustainable and all that jazz—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.
Fred and Max Guerrero grew up obsessed with burgers as the kids of the founder of local fast-casual burger chain Oinkster. They turned that obsession into a Tumblr called Burgerlords, which, in turn, eventually inspired an IRL eatery that takes the retro burger stand into the modern era. The burger here features a custom tri-blend grass-fed beef patty, topped with fresh lettuce, onion, tomato and thousand island dressing. Add cheese for the cheeseburger (or, if you're really ambitious, upgrade to the double).
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.
Crispy bacon strips, mayo, lettuce, American cheese and a nicely seared patty—by God, Bill makes one hell of a burger. Simple and delicious, this cheap bacon cheeseburger ($5.30) is like a siren in the mist, beckoning us to the Valley time and time again.
Unassuming but beloved by all, E.R.B.'s Single Burger ($10) is proof that less is more. Sandwiched with only Tillamook cheddar, a thin smear of ketchup and a buttery brioche bun, the meat takes the spotlight, and that's a good thing—now you can focus all your attention on that prime beef chuck, seasoned to perfection, as it practically melts in your mouth.
Some people revere it, some people loathe its hyper-strict "no substitutions" policy, but even the naysayers can't deny that chef Sang Yoon's gourmet Office Burger ($14) is one for the books. Channeling French onion soup, the burger uses dry-aged beef held between a bun that is lightly toasted with garlic butter. Arugula, blue cheese, Gruyére, and a generous helping of caramelized onions (oh yes, and zero ketchup) top it off.
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 quick glance of this stacked-high burger shows that the name is certainly fitting. Between the fluffy buns you'll find a mound of onion jam, rich aioli, melted cheddar cheese, an extra-thick beef patty, a pile of applewood-smoked bacon, a juicy slice of tomato and a clump of fresh arugula. Oh, and if that's still not enough, feel free to add a fried egg, too.
Chef Ernesto Uchimura is one of L.A.'s most innovative chefs, and the Plan Check Burger ($14) is solid, meaty proof. It's like someone took a classic burger, spent months tinkering with it in a lab, and came out with this unique beauty. There's Uchimura's famed ketchup leather (dehydrated housemade ketchup), Americanized dashi cheese (which has a rich, miso-esque flavor), schmaltz onions and crispy pickles, and everything is firmly held together in a crunchy, crumb-speckled bun. Classic? No. Delicious? Absolutely.
California grass-fed beef, caramelized cheddar, bone marrow—this is not your standard fast food burger. The Larchmont's burger ($16) is a dressed-up version of the classic comfort food, but it still retains every bit of satisfaction that comes with eating a juicy, gluttonous meal. Bonus: the fries are bomb, too.
A longtime secret-menu classic, Animal's cheekily named Boner Burger ($16) folds bone marrow into the patty, hence the moniker, but we’re pretty sure there’s another reason they went with that. 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 from Diamond Bakery. Schwing!
Nestled on a Pasadena corner, this unsuspecting dive is host to a small ordering window, very limited seating, and the meatiest, juiciest, two-hands-required cheeseburger you'll ever have. The patty is ultra thick, the cheese is oozing, and at $6.95 including fries and a drink (Say what? We know.), you'll be ordering one of these beautiful things on the reg.
Alhambra's metal-themed, meat-slinging burger shop doesn’t serve a single patty that’s not obscenely dressed. But the Napalm Death ($12) 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).
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 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. Don't even get us started on the Neopolitan shakes.