[Missed an installment? Catch up with 30 Burgers in 30 Days in our meaty archive.]
"If the paper turns clear," says Dr. Nick Riviera, holding up a fast-food wrapper, translucent with grease, "It's your window to weight gain!"
The cheerfully incompetent doctor on The Simpsons would approve of Mom's Burgers. Served in brown paper bags with no formality or pretense at health, these are heaping, all-American, fast-food burgers, fried up and dished out of a sky-blue stand in the heart of Compton. Mercifully, everything on Mom's menu comes in a junior version, because if it didn't, heart attacks would be imminent.
Meat & Bun: A flat, sizable, fast-food patty with a medium grind on a standard white bread bun, Mom's burgers are decent quality, though they don't taste very fresh, and come nicely grilled and moderately seasoned.
Toppings: The basic Mom's Burger ($3.70, regular/$2.85, junior) comes with shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped white onions, ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles and a slice of tomato. Just greasy enough to make our mouth water without making our stomachs feel bloated. It's combos like the Chronic and The Colosso, however, with their audacious more-is-more style of excess, that have made Mom's Burgers semi-famous.
Unwrap the Colosso ($8.03/$5.27), and it disgorges a mass of tender but very salty pastrami. Yes, there is a burger hiding somewhere underneath the curling pink tongues of meat, but you'll have to wade through a few mouthfuls of pastrami to get to it.
The classic here is The Chronic ($5.38/$4.56), which adds a slice of American cheese, a fried egg and two slices of chewy, thick-cut bacon. We're generally not a big fan of the egg-on-burger trend. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Mom's is one of the few places where it works. The fried egg somehow seems organic, integral even, to the Chronic, rather than a "Hey, look how decadent I am" affectation.
Our least favorite thing about Mom's? Nearly every burger is slathered in mayo. If you don't care for the stuff, be sure to ask them to leave it off.
Sides: Yes, they're frozen, but thanks to heavy salt and other seasoning, these are some of the better skinny fries we've had.
Dessert: Not that kind of place.
The Upshot: For the classic Mom's Burger experience, order a Jr. Chronic Burger and a side of fries. For a shameless indulgence, upsize to the regular Chronic. Skip the mayo. There aren't many seats at this outdoor-only burger stand. Regulars know to call in their orders for pickup (310-632-6622). Mom's is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. CASH ONLY.
Exercise: 60-min. spinning class.