Burgers figure heavily in the life of Bellwether chef Ted Hopson. Apart from being a dedicated burger enthusiast, Hopson spent time as the executive chef (under chef/owner Sang Yoon) of Father's Office, home to one of the best and best-known burgers in the country. When Hopson opened his own restaurant last year in Studio City, many people expected to see a burger on the menu there as well. But it wasn't until Bellwether's brunch service launched in January that Hopson tried his hand at his very own burger.
We wondered which burgers in town are irresistible to a chef with so many burgers in his life. Here are his top nine picks in Los Angeles.
9. The K-BBQ at Umami Burger
“To me, this is one of those burgers that screams California. Caramelized kimchi, gochujang glaze, scallion-sesame salad. It's just a perfect fusion of the Korean and American classics. In full disclosure, I helped to create this burger, but that shouldn’t take away from how delicious it is.” Various locations; umamiburger.com.
8. The Kuawa Crunch at Pono Burger
“Who doesn't love chips on a burger? This place puts time and care into finding their products, and then serves them perfectly. It's one of the better burgers on the Westside. I feel that since L.A. is covered in burgers, it takes something like this, something that stands out, for me to want to go back.” 829 Broadway, Santa Monica; ponoburger.com.
7. Chicken Fried Steak Burger (add bacon and cheese) at Lucky Boy
“This place does more than just breakfast burritos. When I was just a young cook working in L.A., I had a serious addiction to this place. My friends and I would always go in and order the whole menu. The chicken fried steak burger became a huge favorite. Just think about the name of it and bask in all the glory of an amazing burger. Of course, I add bacon and cheese. Why? Because most everything in the world is better with those items. And Lucky Boy has some of the best bacon ever — not any fancy name brand but ultra-crunchy and full of porky goodness.” 640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena; (626) 793-0120, luckyboyburgers.com.
6. The Devil at Rounds Burgers
“Buffalo ranch, bacon and breaded jalapeñ'os. Doesn't that alone justify how amazing this is? Of course, I add a fried egg, 'cause I'm just that guy! But it really does capture that spicy burger flavor that I crave.” 8871 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 855-1004, roundsburgers.com.
5. Ledlow Burger
“Burgers don't have to be fancy to be amazing, and this is a perfect example. There aren't frills that draw you in, just the sheer joy of an amazing burger. I used to have a lot of meetings downtown, and we would always have them at Ledlow, mainly because I wanted this burger. I really love it when chefs do burgers like this, small and thin patties, griddled and piled high. It makes me feel like a kid again!” 400 S. Main St., downtown; (213) 687-7015, ledlowla.com.
4. The Royale at the Oinkster
“OK, maybe now you can tell I have a thing for piles of meat on bread, and this fits perfectly on the list. A burger topped with not only chili but also pastrami and bacon. It's rich, and it's hard to make it through the whole burger and still have room for those chili fries I ordered, but dammit, I always try my best.” 2005 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; (323) 255-6465, theoinkster.com.
3. Ding’s Chicken Sandwich at Honor Bar
“Now this might not be a burger exactly, but once you have it, you will crave it more than a burger. It is one of the most perfectly executed chicken sandwiches in all of L.A. I go here thinking I want a burger and a beer, but I just end up getting this, just to enjoy sheer bliss on a bun.” 122 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 550-0292, honorbar.com.
2. The Pug Burger at the Hungry Cat
“What can I say, I'm a sucker for blue cheese. This is a very well put-together burger, slightly different from what you find everywhere else, and that alone makes me want to go back. Add a fried egg to it, and you’re in for a real treat!” 1535 Vine St., Hollywood; (323) 462-2155, thehungrycat.com.
1. Office Burger at Father's Office
“I loved this burger for years before I was the chef there, and I will continue to love it for more years to come. It is just an amazing combination of flavors that Sang came up with years ago that hasn't changed — and quite frankly should never change.” 1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; fathersoffice.com.