To us, there is no ideal in terms of size or batter. The onion rings should just taste equally of the exterior and interior. On our hunt, we came across fat and skinny, cornmeal and breadcrumb, beer and tempura and on and on. There were for sure more frozen-food standard versions out there than we cared for -- we're looking at you, Birds, The Hat and Nickle Diner -- but even some of those rose above the chatter. For our purposes, we tried to keep our list limited to restaurants that dip their own. We sampled as many as our skinny jeans would allow and found our top 10 favorites. Turn the page.10. Farmer Boys:
If your idea of the perfect restaurant is the kind of place where you can roll in at 8 a.m. to order a stack of four or seven (why those numbers, we can only guess) gigantic onion rings, this is the spot for you. Sliced from a seemingly jumbo onion, the rings are at least an inch and a half tall and are in a fine-meal breadcrumb crust that falls right off as you bite in. Served with what can only be described as chemical-flavored ranch dressing (read: terrible), these monsters stand alone and for sure are going to require a knife and fork and a stack of napkins. 726 S. Alameda St., Los Angeles; (213) 228-8999.9. Fatburger:
When you walk into a Fatburger, you're greeted with a riot of red and yellow and a prominent sign that says, "Most onion rings come from freezers. We prefer onions." Hardee har har. Even without the jokes, it's obvious from first bite that the local-origin fast-food chain really is committed to its rings. With a medium crumb-sized batter and a medium slice, these lean the slightest bit toward being greasy (see above photo), but in the words of the late, great Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, "I'm fly at Fatburger when I'm way out west." And since you're on the West Coast, you can be fly, too, if you order a basketful. 12005 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 268-1112.8. Stout:
If you have a burger spot that specializes in serving small-batch, craft beers, it makes perfect sense that your onion rings would be of the beer-battered variety. Adding a carbonated liquid to the mix is the classic technique for creating a lighter crust. What isn't quite as expected is how deeply the end result tastes of that malty, yeasty, beer -- under a chestnut-colored shellac of coating. When you bite into it, the onion entombed within releases itself like a translucent ribbon, leaving you to choose your adventure: fried bits, vegetable bites or just gathering it all up for finger-licking, beer-soaked gluttony. 1544 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 469-3801.
Turn the page for picks 7 through 5...