Named after the difference between a medium-rare and a well-done burger, 25 Degrees has three amazing things going for it: An executive chef who gets it, prime real estate and one of the best burgers in town. Located inside the iconic Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, Chef Tim Goodell offers a couple of pre-fab burgers as well as a healthy selection of goodies to create your own. However, for my money, the mix of bacon, gorgonzola and caramelized onions in the “Number One” make it the clear winner. This is especially the case after you’ve spent the majority of the evening ponied up to the bar at Public Kitchen & Bar, The Spare Room or Library Bar, all located inside the hotel. Open 24 hours.
The motto at this L.A. classic is “Quality Forever,” and the tiny counter-only burger stalwart lives up to both parts of the slogan. “Quality” comes from the plump juicy burgers (available hickory or steakburger style) served on simple white buns with an optional slice of Tilamook cheddar. The “forever” comes from the joint’s genuine retro vibe, with its vintage signage, the old-school register, and the kitchen staff in white paper hats. Sinking your teeth into the succulent burgers, you get the sense that it just might be 1947, the year Apple Pan began.
It may be a bit disconcerting at first to order a burger at this tiny taco and burrito stand, wedged into an unassuming Los Feliz parking lot. But in addition to making a mean cochinita pibil, carne asada, and machaca, Yuca’s grills up a mighty fine burger. The super thin patty soaks up the juices from the carne asada on the grill, giving this flat, fast food style burger a whopping punch of flavor, forcing even the most devoted burrito fan into a difficult ordering conundrum.
1018 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Little goes better with a burger than a beer, and this impossibly hip duo offers the best of both. An impeccably curated list of craft brews, paired to match the small but satisfying food menu, gets beer buffs going, but it is the famed burger that has hipsters lining up in the street. Alterations to the dry aged beef burger — cooked rare — and topped with sweet, caramelized onions, Maytag blue and gruyère cheeses, bacon compote, and peppery arugula are frowned upon. But this burger proves that Father really does knows best.
Lazy Ox Canteen
No other burger in town gets the unadulterated pleasure of “medium rare”, better than the gorgeous specimen grilled up at this Little Tokyo gastropub. Though artfully decked out with buttery cantal and a tangy special sauce and piled on the perfect platform of a toasty housemade bun, the burger remains the star. With a perfect sear outside and an interior that like the best steak tartare sings the glories of utter beefy goodness.
The Back Abbey
The Back Abbey takes that quintessential burger and beer combination and kicks it up a notch with a selection of more than one hundred brews and a sublimely constructed hamburger to match – the eponymous Back Abbey, dressed to kill with pungent aged gouda, caramelized onion, crisp bacon, micro greens, and a creamy mustard aioli.
Befitting the warm tones and cozy vibe of Rustic Canyon, the Santa Monica wine bar run by Los Angeles’ first culinary couple, Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb, is the bistro’s hearty, two-hand burger, topped with all the gourmet trimmings. The beef is Niman Ranch, which is then piled high with a hot mess of sharp cheddar, onion fondue, sweet pickles, and herb remoulade. Don’t be embarrassed as you lick your hands clean – everyone else will be doing it too.
The New York Times called it “perfect.” Jonathan Gold called it the best burger in town. We call it dinner, as often as possible. An uncomplicated, straightforward rendering of the classic bistro burger, Comme Ça’s creation is crowned with a thin slice of cheddar and a simple cabbage slaw and cushioned by a pillowy brioche bun. And most importantly, the aged Angus beef truly is cooked to perfection.
We’re hard at work eating our way through burger joints in Orange County, so until we release our picks for Best Burgers in OC, we thought we’d wet your appetite with a couple of our favorites.
The namesake burger at this OC gastropub is a thrilling hot mess of flavors, piling creamy Saint Agur blue, zesty arugula, tangy red onions, earthy roasted peppers all on a perfectly packed patty — best ordered medium rare.
The new burger on the block, the rendition at San Clemente’s Riders Club Café is already winning accolades as one of Orange County’s best. Served on an eggy challah bun with lettuce, onions, housemade pickles, and a choice of toppings from a poached egg to roasted pasilla peppers, we’re betting this brand new burger’s got some serious staying power.
Katie Robbins is a freelance journalist, based in Los Angeles, CA. Check out her blog at www.katiesallierobbins.com.
Bj Dahl is the Editor of CBSLA.com