Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (coming out Oct. 3), we'll be bringing you periodic lists of some of the best things we've found to eat and drink around town. Ice cream sandwiches and bowls of tsukemen, fish tacos and dan dan mian, cups of boba and glasses of booze. Read on.
In America, burgers are the great equalizer. There's a reason that the President's favorite blue collar campaign trail meal is a cheeseburger: They're the perfect everyman food, available in every voter district and are always at least satisfying, if not downright delicious. People come together over beef and bun, at summertime cookouts and in restaurants where the waitstaff will refold your napkin if you go to the restroom. In short, everyone loves a good burger.
Los Angeles is no exception, with a per capita burger rate that surely rivals any other city in America. From Santa Monica and East Hollywood to the hidden South Bay gems, turn the page to find five of our favorites.
5. R+D Kitchen
Not every burger needs to have beef, as evidenced by R+D Kitchen's stellar veggie burger. The Santa Monica New American eatery sports a patty made of toasted brown rice, mushroom and almonds, with some sautéed vegetables thrown in for good measure. Jack cheese and thin slices of avocado provide all the creamy fat you could hope for, with a nice sear at the edges to boot. Surround it with an angelic egg bun and you've got a burger that works for anyone, not just vegetarians. 1323 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; 310-395-3314.
As an old school burger stand, Capitol Burger on Pico Boulevard is among the best. The building has all of the smoky, slightly downtrodden charm you could want, with occasionally surly workers and fries that are served inside a cut-up beer box. The burgers are pure Southern California style: Two quarter pound patties are seasoned and seared with plenty of salt, then washed over with American cheese slices and finished off with a slice of tomato, some lettuce and a few pickles. Served on a commercial white bun that's been lightly toasted, Capitol Burger is a perfect living relic. 4301 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-City.
You may not realize this, but Jazz Singsanong's Southern Thai palace Jitlada actually serves a burger. It's not anywhere within the pages and pages of Jitlada's mouth-searing entrees, but if you ask Singsanong nicely -- and she's got the ingredients on hand -- she'll whip one up for you on the spot. What arrives is two well-seared beef patties, salted and sugared and garlic'd as it hits the heat. The meat is then topped with raw red onions, a thick tomato slice, a tangy mustard-ish sauce and sprigs of fresh basil. It's a little hot, a little sweet, a little savory, and utterly Thai. 5233½ Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 667-9809.
2. Comme Ça
Comme Ça, the whitewashed upscale French brasserie on Melrose, is one of Los Angeles' burger greats. Their cheeseburger isn't fussy or pretentious, despite the ambiance and $16 price tag. The aged beef is among the best you'll find in Los Angeles, a rich and full grind that offers lots of juice without all of those greasy leftovers. A thick slab of sharp cheddar is melted over top and the rest is mounded with a delicately creamy cabbage slaw, all on a brioche bun that softly stands up to whatever the rest of the ingredients throw at it. This burger is Daniel Craig as James Bond, a hulking mass of power that's been barely contained inside a dinner jacket. 8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 782-1104.
What you're thinking now is completely understandable: "How could a burger that looks this good fly under my burger-loving radar for so long?" That's because Mar'sel's Down Low Burger only exists at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, which is a bit of a drive even if you live next door. But once you've let the resort's winding main entrance drop you off at the cliff's edge, hang a left and you'll be inside the upscale hotel restaurant known as Mar'sel, which is home to this structural burger beauty. The whole thing is done as a re-imagining of the In-N-Out Double Double, with Wagyu beef, aged white cheddar, caramelized onions and one perfectly pillowy bun used to set a new standard. Mar'sel's burger is one to be reckoned with, assuming you can make a reservation, find the damn place and actually order one before they run out. 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes; (310) 265-2836.
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