30 Burgers in 30 Days: Pacific Dining Car (Day 18)

Pacific Dining Car: Cheeseburger

[Missed an installment? Catch up with 30 Burgers in 30 Days in our meaty archive.]

The Pacific Dining Car doesn't look like much from the outside. A white picket fence bordering some sort of nondescript building. Look closer. This former train car has been transformed into a velvety cocoon of old-world elegance. Dark wood paneling, dim lighting. We can imagine Don Draper's West Coast counterpart wooing prospective clients over a three martini lunch in restaurants like this.

Pacific Dining Car: Lamb Burger with House-Made Potato Chips

Meat & Bun: Not since Day 1, when we happened upon GO Burger's ill-fated attempt to marry a grilled cheese sandwich with a burger have we come across anything as greasy as the Pacific Dining Car's cheeseburger ($22.95). From the moment we picked it up for our first bite, the toasted sesame seed bun was so utterly soaked with grease it began crumbling apart. There's another issue. We like a loosely packed patty as much as the next self-appointed burger aficionado, but this is ridiculous. The meat nicely charred on the outside and medium-rare on the inside, but the fat quotient made it hard to eat the whole thing. (You can order a 10 oz. chopped hamburger steak, which is essentially the same burger minus the bun and fixings.)

All was forgiven with the lamb burger, an impossibly tender round of ground lamb permeated with herbs, topped with a lemon and mint-tinged yogurt sauce and served on a soft, chewy roll. We're not sure why you would come to the Pacific Dining Car and order anything besides a steak, but if you do, the lamb burger is the hands-down winner. Is it worth $27.95? Hell, no. We're just giving you options.

Pacific Dining Car: Interior

Toppings: The classic cheeseburger is served open faced with romaine lettuce, a slice of tomato and raw onions. Basic and pure. The lamb burger comes with the aforementioned yogurt sauce and chopped, dark leafy greans.

Sides: The fries, a mix of potato and sweet potato, were thin and probably frozen but were very well done. We especially liked the potatoes gaufrette, which here is a fancy way of saying house-fried potato chips, accompanying the lamb burger. Thin and crisp with the most delicate of waffle cuts, they were a nice variation from the typical potato-based side, though they were also quite greasy.

Dessert: We couldn't afford it.

The Upshot: Amazing ambiance and service. Perfect for those who have an expense account. For everyone else, if you're treating yourself to a meal at Pacific Dining Car, have a steak. If for some reason you don't, have the lamb burger.

Pacific Dining Car: Exterior + Sign

Exercise: None.


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Pacific Dining Car

2700 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90403

310-453-4000

www.pacificdiningcar.com


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