Recently, we published our 99 Essential Restaurants in Los Angeles issue for 2017, along with its new sister list, the Freshmen 15 (for the newbie restaurants too young to be “essential” but that we love nonetheless). But where are all the great burgers hidden in the depths of that list? We dug 'em out for you. Here are the six restaurants with burgers so great, they help to earn the title of “essential.”
Some restaurant experiences are simply a rite of passage for L.A. food lovers, and the tense wait for a stool at Apple Pan’s U-shaped counter is one of those experiences. Opened in 1947, the burger joint has barely changed in its 70-year history. Once you swoop in and grab your seat, your choice is simple: hickory burger or steak burger? If you’re looking for a touch of smoky barbecue flavor, go for the former; if you’re more of a purist, the latter. There are some non-burger sandwiches on the menu, including simple egg salad or tuna salad, but it’s unlikely that’s why you’re here. — Besha Rodell
Read Apple Pan's full 99 Essentials listing here.
Gourmet burgers are a wonderful concept — and are often executed beautifully, too — but we can never forget about the originals, the thin-patty, vegetable-heavy cheeseburgers that are emblems of Southern California. Bill’s Burgers in the San Fernando Valley has changed its name a couple of times, but it has never changed its style. It’s a simple roadside stand with no pretensions, just a short menu of sandwiches and burgers. No fries. There are plenty of fans who show up on weekdays, cash in hand, to get a burger topped with iceberg lettuce, tomato, chopped onions, pickles and mayonnaise. It’s best to add cheese and make it a double. — Katherine Spiers.
Read the full Bill's Burgers 99 Essential listing here.
Everson Royce Bar (ERB)
The Arts District collaboration between Silverlake Wine’s Randy Clement and former Osteria Mozza chef Matt Molina is a deceptively simple operation. There’s a long, backlit bar facing some banquette seating; a large kitchen abutting a hallway to the outdoor space; and a huge, string light–festooned back patio with picnic tables and a bocce court. Molina is turning out classic drinking food from all over the world, including a burger that is a triumph of greasy American gratification while somehow remaining elegant. Compact and crisp-bunned, the single, medium-thickness, prime beef chuck patty topped with Tillamook cheddar packs a wallop of buttery, meaty flavor. — B.R.
Read the full ERB Bar 99 Essential listing here.
Despite how much we here in L.A. covet the Father’s Office burger, chef Sang Yoon’s pair of gastropubs probably don’t get the props they deserve. Did you know, for instance, that the FO burger was the first truly chef-driven, gourmet burger in the country? (Yes, it came before Daniel Boulud’s DB Burger in New York.) Did you know that before Yoon took over the original Father’s Office in 2000, the word “gastropub” wasn’t really a part of the American vernacular? In fact, so many food and drink trends were spawned by this chef and this place, it deserves a plaque, a holiday, a parade.
Read the full Father's Office 99 Essential listing here.
Roy Choi — L.A.'s O.G. purveyor of Korean-Mexican cuisine — attempted a food revolution when he and San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson launched LocoL in Watts, the first outpost of what they intend to be a healthy fast-food chain. All the food is made from scratch using fresh ingredients. You won't find a soda here, either — they have house-made aguas frescas instead. The menu channels Choi's creative flair: flavorful burgers, noodle dishes, the taco-meets-quesadilla “foldies” and veggie sides. Highlights are the LocoL Cheeseburg — made with scallion relish — and the Noodleman, a noodle dish with ginger, chili and lime. — Jean Trinh
Read Locol's 99 Essential listing here.
The Petit Trois burger is a mash-up of cultures, taking inspiration from the classic American cheeseburger as well as from chef Ludo Lefebvre's homeland (in the form of bordelaise sauce with a touch of foie gras and piles of caramelized onions). There is more than a hint of French onion soup here, but with its American cheese and rare beef, this is also undeniably a cheeseburger. It's a monstrosity of a thing that won't hold together after a couple of bites, but you find yourself unable to slow down long enough to find a decorous way to eat it. You look up, stunned, 10 minutes later, covered in sauce and meat juice, having eaten the entire thing, which is far too big for any one meal. It's a glorious experience. — B. R.
Read Petit Trois' 99 Essential listing here.