As those who pay attention to the food world know, Chinatown is changing. The neighborhood had long been known for its old-school Cantonese and Mandarin standbys, but in recent years it's taken on a whole new culinary profile. The initial interest in the neighborhood on the part of restaurateurs may have been based on the relatively cheap rent in Chinatown (there were a lot of empty storefronts), but it's now L.A.'s most interesting culinary enclave.
Burgerlords opened a window in Chinatown Plaza last year, doing SoCal-style burgers and an admirable vegan version. Plus fries. And that's it. Over in Far East Plaza, Easy's Burgers opened its own takeout window this month, offering a challenge of Chinatown burger dominance. So which one is better?
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Contender 1: Burgerlords
The sons of Oinkster owner Andre Guerrero have burgers in their blood, even if they're vegan. The classic West Coast–style cheeseburger has a thin patty and a pile of vegetables, in the style of In-N-Out — though those who've spent time in Seattle will notice that it tastes a lot like the burger at Dick's. Burgerlords gets points for being vegan-friendly, but it does need to work on consistent quality control. When it's good, it's the best. Cold burger? 86 it!
943 N. Broadway, #102, Chinatown; (323) 405-4012, burgerlords.com.
Contender 2: Easy's
Easy's is part of the Unit 120 family, that rotating pop-up that's doing pretty interesting, high-quality work. The burger is not the usual Los Angeles–style burger. It's architectural, and visually dominated by a thick slice of purple onion. The patty is peppery and medium-rare, both bold choices. It's more of a grillout burger than we usually find in quick-service restaurants. It's good. (The shakes are great, too.)
727 N. Broadway, #120, Chinatown; (213) 537-0053, easysburgers.com.
So which one is better? Hmmm ... honestly, we'll have one of each. (Seriously. It's happened.)