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Double cheeseburger at Ledlow
Photo by Farley Elliott
Have a favorite burger? Nominate it for our Best of L.A. 2015 Readers' Choice Award.
Burgers are a form of currency for Los Angeles. We trade in Apple Pan’s and In-N-Out’s, and pay good deeds forward with meals at Father’s Office or Pie N’ Burger. We talk about burgers as we talk about the stock market or the weather, our not-so-secret point of domination against all other cities.
For Angelenos, our best burgers are money in the bank; they pay dividends in an almost timeless way, whether you frequent them or not. Restaurants like Comme Ça, Bill & Hiroko’s and Hawkin’s House of Burgers are invariably good bets when pointing friends to L.A.’s Best Burger, but they may not speak to the burger market’s more recent growth. There are plenty of newer, or otherwise unconsidered, restaurants that have been trending upward recently in their consideration of the burger, buoyed by a love of meat and bun that defies all market fluctuation. Stockholders love a good burger.
Here, then, is a list of 10 of the best burgers in Los Angeles, with the added caveat that we’ve strayed specifically away from the more well-known destinations that have been covered in these pages before. Everyone knows you can eat well at Golden State or Stout — but what’s next? Where is the city's burger future brightest? Here are 10 places to start looking.
Happy hour burger at Cecconi's
There are plenty of reasons to enjoy Cecconi’s in West Hollywood — from its gorgeous bar to its Roman-inflected menu — but a best-in-city burger would not normally come to mind as one of them. Yet there it is, tucked away on the "4 to 7" happy hour menu (which is available on Saturdays, by the way): a black truffle burger, laced with fontina cheese. It’s as funky as anything those big-boy burger places (read: Umami) tend to throw at you, but with a laid-back classiness that’s hard to match, especially when pitched against the on-draft prosecco. And to top it off, literally? A wide fold of griddled pancetta, just to seal the deal. And at , what a deal this is.
American Prime burger at the Rockefeller
Don’t doubt the South Bay. This formerly sleepy beachside slice of Los Angeles has become a hotbed for innovative cuisine, and knows how to put together one hell of a burger at places like the Standing Room. But it’s at the Rockefeller in Manhattan Beach, newly helmed by former Larchmont maestro Cody Diegel, where one of the newest burgers shines strong. There’s the chef’s namesake Cody burger, a hearty mix of American Wagyu beef, truffle bacon jam and taleggio cheese, which is sure to entice diners with a powerful palate, but it’s the American Prime burger that really delivers. Double-stacked patties are cooked to medium and layered in with grilled onions, classic American cheese and the usual array of lettuce, pickles and aioli. It’s a purist’s burger, complete with the need for plenty of napkins.
Alvin Cailan is a sandwich whisperer. The affable man is behind the Eggslut brand, which began as a slick white food truck parked on Fairfax and has blossomed into the most popular stall at Grand Central Market; he knows a thing or two about the marriage of meat and bun. So it’s no surprise that Eggslut’s aptly named Eggslut Cheeseburger is a lunchtime marvel all its own. Pulling a mix of American Wagyu, caramelized onions, sharp, vinegary pickles and cheddar cheese, the burger is already primed for success. But it’s the all-too-obvious addition of an over-medium egg that turns the Eggslut Cheeseburger into something special. If you’re in need of a challenge, swing for the fences with a double.
Spicy lamb burger at Badmaash
At the other end of the purist’s spectrum is Badmaash, an Indian-by-way-of-Canada joint downtown known mostly for serving casual dishes such as chicken tikka poutine and inventively stuffed samosas. Gandhi makes for good wall art here, decked out in neon sunglasses. Badmaash's burger is a spicy grind of lamb leg cuts, packed loosely and left with just enough juiciness, which itself is no small feat when cooking up a burger with as much sear as this one has. Iceberg lettuce and red onion add some textural crunch, while a toss of cilantro and strong swipe of smoky paprika mayo add fuel to the burger’s fire, while a toasted brioche from Breadbar puts the finishing touches on a burger that’s as unique as it is delicious.
Flintridge Proper goes old-school with its burger.
Courtesy of Flintridge Proper
Everything about Flintridge Proper seems far away. The location itself, in a strip mall at the base of Angeles Crest Highway, is no easy drive for most Angelenos. The look is from the newly distant past, with its woody mix of reflective surfaces, high-backed bar seats and a formidable collection of gin. Deviled eggs, artichoke dip, wedge salads and other 1950s clubhouse favorites anchor the menu, while Flintridge’s Proper burger is classic in all the right places. American cheese still rules here, though it’s made in-house, and Thousand Island dressing has yet to go out of style. The half-pound patty is loosely ground and reminiscent of the best pub burgers from decades past — big, beefy and worthy of one of those heavy steak knives that used to ride shotgun next to a burger and a plate of fries. But that was decades ago.