It is de rigueur these days for upscale restaurants to have a burger on the menu. But with so many delicious and cheap burgers in town, where is it worth it to eat an $18 burger? At Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen in Santa Monica, that's where. Some combination of the meat (a blend of chuck and brisket), the way it's grilled, its toppings (Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, a very slow-cooked onion fondue, an herb remoulade, house-made pickles and arugula) and the fantastic butter-brushed bun make this the stuff of burger fever dreams. You can add an egg or a thick slab of bacon confit, but honestly, you don't need it — the burger is already smoky and decadent enough. Drop in, grab a seat at the bar and school yourself on the time and place for a burger that lives up to its price. 1119 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 393-7050,

—Besha Rodell

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