National Hamburger Day is December 21st which means it’s your chance to indulge in the classic hamburger without the guilt. The only problem you should have is deciding where to get the task done. Are you planning on going traditional or gourmet? Spicy or mild? Carnivorous or herbivorous? In honor of one of America’s best eats, we’ve come up with a comprehensive roundup of the best burgers served at restaurants, diners, hotels and food trucks throughout Los Angeles.
1323 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Part of the Hillstone restaurant group that brings you Bandera, South Beverly Grill and other delicious eateries, this comfort-food hotspot offers one of best, most perfectly executed hamburgers in town. Straightforward and perfectly dressed with mustard and a generous application of mayo, the sandwich comes on a fluffy house-made egg bun and has just the right amount of crunch from shredded Iceberg lettuce. So, if you’re looking for an unfussy yet slightly refined burger in a sceney lounge-like setting, you’ve come to the right place. The shoestring fries, devilled-egg starter and gargantuan martinis aren’t too shabby either.
Bouchon Bistro (at the Montage Beverly Hills)
235 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
If you’re looking for a great gourmet fix on the burger, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro located inside Beverly Hills’ swanky Montage hotel, is the place to go. The eponymous bistro may offer some fine French fare, but the burger definitely stands out. Offered during lunch service only, the $19 Le Burger Bouchon is steep in price, but steeper in taste. Served on a buttery, freshly-baked brioche bun with a house pickle, it practically melts in your mouth and really needs nothing else to complete it, except maybe those famous frites. And might we add that eating it all up inside an opulent dining room will probably make you feel like royalty.
The Golden State
426 N Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Newer to Fairfax Avenue’s trendy domain, The Golden State is a quaint brick-laden café with tons of pride. Even though there’s only one beef hamburger on the menu, it pleases patrons well. With Harris Ranch beef, glazed applewood smoked bacon and aioli, the recipe is simple but satisfying. And if you’re ordering a side with it, be sure to go for the jalapeno coleslaw to heat things up just a tad. For a sweet and cool ending, make sure to slurp up one of their gelato floats.
10801 W Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
This legendary diner has stuck to its original décor and limited menu since 1947 for one reason … the Hickory Burger. After swinging open the double screen doors, and waiting for a coveted seat at the U-shaped counter, you’ll be well taken care of by the veteran waiters who serve up paper-wrapped patties like the wind. Start with the place’s perfectly crisp fries, and then move onto to the adored Hickory Burger which is slathered with a secret, thick ketchup-turned-barbecue sauce that complements the beef in a divine manner. Finish with a slice of the apple or chocolate cream pie.
Barrel & Ashes
11801 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
If you do want to mess with Texas, then visit Barrel & Ashes. Studio City is really heating up so it’s no surprise that chef/owner Timothy Hollingsworth, who hails from The French Laundry, parked his charming new barbecue joint in the bustling Valley neighborhood. In addition to staples like fall-off-the-bone ribs and homemade jalapeno cheddar sausage, native Texan Hollingsworth has started serving a burger during lunchtime—and it’s a beaut! Finished with house-smoked bacon and tomato marmalade, the creation tastes of the South. But, it’s the tiled walls, wooden picnic tables, strong whiskey cocktails and hoe cake that might just lead you to believe you’re actually there.
1544 N. Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Now with a trio of locations, this pub-style establishment prides itself on the simple formula of burgers and beers. But don’t expect to find just the classics here. Instead, a selection of artful burgers is served up satisfying patrons day in and day out. One of the most intriguing is the Six Weeker. Created for those who love to get down and decadent, it’s complete with brie cheese and fig jam, and politely suggests Belgian ale. But whether you go with ale, wine or something soft, you’re in for a nonchalant neighborhood setting with delicious comfort fare.
For the burger connoisseur on the go, the Kogi truck is where it’s at. Specializing in Korean-Mexican street eats, Roy Choi launched his delectable empire with a traveling food truck in 2008 and the crowds just kept on coming allowing Choi to eventually feed the city with four trucks. Yes, the short rib sliders and spicy pork tacos are tempting, but the Pacman Burger is on a whole different level simply because it combines three meats (beef, pork and chicken), sesame mayo, chicharrones and cheese. It may just send your taste buds into sensory overload. Follow the truck’s weekly schedule online to find a stop near you and let the sidewalk dining begin.
1800 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Taste. Atmosphere. Artisanal cocktails. Check! With three locations throughout the city, modern-American Plan Check has perfected its craft and continues to offer a small but mighty list of out-of-the-box burgers that rivals its competitors. The PCB (Plan Check Burger) is the most popular with Dashi cheese, ketchup leather and schmaltz onions. Next up is the Bleuprint burger, a sandwich crafted with blue cheese and an unexpected helping of pig candy. Wash both down with a beer, handcrafted cocktail or one of the many Japanese whiskies on hand.
844 Hermosa Ave.
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
If it’s sliders you’re yearning for, then make your way to the always-packed Hot’s Kitchen in Hermosa Beach, open for brunch, lunch and dinner. This laid-back bar/restaurant located right in the mix on Hermosa Avenue serves up a variety of tapas and draft beer to sun-kissed locals but is really known for its oversized sliders. Whether you opt to chow down on the “Fat” slider finished with a fried egg or the NYC Pastrami, which features actual pastrami on top of the pattie, you can’t go wrong. Non-slider favorites include the fried chicken tacos, mojo shrimp tacos and Korean chicken wings.
3229 Helms Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Laced with blue cheese and applewood bacon, and topped off with caramelized onions and arugula, this burger is epic. But don’t bother asking for ketchup or medium heat because acclaimed chef/owner Sang Yoon simply won’t allow it. The Office Burger comes the way it comes, and you know what, you’ll love it. After waiting for a coveted seat at one of the gastro pub’s picnic-style tables, feast your eyes on the lengthy and worldly beer menu, order the burger (with classic or sweet potato fries) and let its unique amalgamation of flavors overcome you.
The Upper West
3321 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Vegetarians, this one is for you! The veggie burger competition has gotten pretty stiff in this city and Upper West’s version is way up there. The inviting urban restaurant, treasured by Santa Monica locals, serves up a thick black bean-base patty dressed with a tangy pineapple relish, piquillo peppers and smoked tomato aioli. The originality and combination of sweet and savory is almost uncanny. Continue to enjoy the experience with an expansive cocktail list and such starters as Ahi tacos and Thai peanut noodles.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
If you haven’t tried an Umami burger yet, you’re missing out. Dusted with a signature umami dust and placed on a slightly sweet bun, the pattie reveals a subtle mushroom flavor and come out insanely juicy. Everything on the menu excels but “The Original” is always a good idea; boasting parmesan frico, roasted tomato, shitake mushroom and a smattering of house ketchup, the end result offers balanced intensity and showcases the magic behind the Umami burger. Try pairing it with a glass of wine or beer, and the double-fried “Smushed Potatoes” or tempura-style onion rings if you’re really ready to splurge.