For a city full of fitness- and image-obsessed wannabe celebs, Los Angeles sure loves a good burger.
This metropolis is full of hamburger stands ranging from the ultra-cheap fast food joints on every corner to the rarefied air of certain exclusive dives and dumps where a simple patty on a bun can ring up double digits. However, as any L.A. local and burger aficionado will tell you, the city’s food editors and burger-eating Angelenos like ’em real, thick, and juicy; never-frozen beef and field-fresh fries and rings are hallmarks of the city’s finest joints. Three restaurants stand out as having the beefiest, tastiest, and all-around best burgers in Los Angeles.
1. The Apple Pan
10801 W Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064-2105
In busy, trendy West L.A., there stands a quaint, almost ramshackle single-story storefront that is so unobtrusive as to be almost unnoticeable. Opened in 1947, the family-run restaurant is laid out like a simple lunch counter, complete with cracked, barstool-height chairs.
Neither the wallpaper nor the commitment to quality have been altered over the past six decades. Although the dÃ?Â©cor and ambience seem to fit a middle-American diner from the Eisenhower era, the Apple Pan boasts one of the best-made hamburgers in Los Angeles. Patrons can choose between the traditional steak burger with its sweet-relish tomato-based sauce or the hickory burger, which has a smokier sauce. Cheeseburgers are make with Tillamook cheddar, and the lettuce is particularly crisp and fresh.
Although the restaurant predates the Internet by a few technological eons, you can read reviews and get more info at the store’s Los Angeles CitySearch page.
For being made-to-order from fresh ingredients, the burgers are served fairly promptly. The French fries are great, as is the old-fashioned dessert menu of crÃ?Â¨me and apple pies. Nothing feels more vintage about this spot than the beverages, which are served in ice-filled, conical paper cups in pewter stands. Order the glass-bottle IBC root beer or cream soda for the perfect compliment to your meal.
One tip: Unless you want to be drenched in a deluge of delectable burger-juices, don’t remove that paper wrapping from your burger until the last bite. In the realm of hamburgers, succulence and tidiness have never been bedfellows.
2. In-N-Out Burger
7009 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, California 90028
Long held to have some of the best burgers in the nation, In-N-Out is a Los Angeles legend. Referenced as a cultural zeitgeist in The Big Lebowski, the restaurant chain keeps its beef fresh, never frozen, which has limited its expansion capabilities. However, there is an In-N-Out store just off the Vegas strip, providing hungover L.A. daytrippers with a perfect taste of home and sustenance for the drive back to the city.
The In-N-Out menu is beautiful in its simplicity. Get a hamburger, a cheeseburger, or a Double Double (two patties and two slices of cheese); order fries and a drink or shake; and you’re ready to go! Burgers come prepared with a toasted bun and Thousand Island spread, but what many regulars love best about this chain is its renowned “secret menu.” Order your Animal Style, skins-on fries or Flying Dutchman and feel yourself in the know. But beware the veggie burger: Unlike the veggie choices at other fast food joints, In-N-Out’s veggie is more like a patty-free grilled cheese. Still good, but it doesn’t truly fit the moniker.
The fries here are so fresh that they actually taste like potatoes; those accustomed to frozen, greasy, and over-salted pommes frites may consider these perfectly crisp taters an acquired taste.
Get the whole story on the fresh ingredients and the secret menu at In-N-Out.com.
12005 Wilshire Blvd.
Brentwood, CA 90025
Although the Fatburger chain of restaurants, founded in 1952, now comprises more than 80 locations in several states and even Canada, Fatburger restaurants still serve up juicy, delicious hamburgers. The “fat” in the moniker refers to the thickness of the fresh-beef patties used; the high-quality meat is lean enough to make the chain a favorite of many health-conscious L.A. natives.
Although the central jukeboxes full of vintage blues provide entertainment for customers, the most entertaining thing about the chain is the “fried egg” option on the menu. Like many Los Angeles burger joints, Fatburger offers optional bacon and chili on their hamburgers; however, this is still the only place in L.A. where you’ll find an over-easy on a medium-well. It may sound strange, but Fatburger fans insist that the addition provides the perfect compliment to more traditional condiments and makes for a life-changing experience.
Learn more or find a store at Fatburger.net.