According to a recent Yelp search, there are 537 restaurants in the L.A. area dedicated to the hamburger. Thousands of other restaurants and bars have burgers on their menus. This makes finding the definitive best burgers in L.A. a daunting task even for a restaurant critic with a bottomless appetite and lots of time for exploring. But some Southland burger “joints” show up on favorite lists of foodies, critics and just plain folks with clock-like regularity. Here are a few of those restaurants.
In -N-Out Burgers
Nine locations in the L.A. area
A regional treasure, the California hamburger chain In-N-Out is privately owned by one of the founder’s grandchildren. With only 246 outlets in the Western U.S., this L.A. fast-food staple is famous for its quick, efficient service and freshly prepared burgers and fries. The “Double-Double”, a double meat, double cheese burger, is by far the best chain hamburger I’ve ever tasted. Even the lettuce and tomatoes taste fresh, different than the wilted variety you get on lots of ill-prepared burgers from national chains. The drive-through is always crowded (regardless of location), but occasionally there’s an order-taker in the parking lot going from car to car to get food to customers faster. You can order burgers “animal-style” – with onions, mustard, pickles and a Thousand Island – type condiment fried onto the meat patty. “Animal-style” fries are made with grilled onions, melted American cheese and dressing. Fries are cut on premises from Kennebunk potatoes and cooked in vegetable oil. Top off your order with a vanilla, strawberry or chocolate shake made with real ice cream.
The Apple Pan
10801 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles , CA 90064
Phone: (310) 475-3585
Like In ‘N’ Out, West L.A.’s Apple Pan is a family-owned business with a simple menu. This diner near Pico and Westwood Boulevard serves a Hickoryburger with smoky, ketchup-based sauce topped with fresh lettuce and tomato, a steakburger with sauce, pickles and optional Swiss or Tilamook cheese. It’s an old-school establishment with a few stools at the counter, no booths, and a mostly AARP-aged staff. The Apple Pan is also famous for its freshly-baked apple, pecan and banana cream pies. They take cash only, and parking can be difficult to find, but it’s well worth it to experience a bit of L.A. culinary history. (The Apple Pan first opened its doors in 1947.) Be forewarned – The Apple Pan is a “love it or hate it” kind of place. The patron reviews on Yelp, Chowhound and other sites are either glowing or downright negative. Personally, I love the burgers here.
1018 Montana Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Phone: (310) 736-2224
This Santa Monica gastropub serves burgers at the bar. Made with aged beef and topped with arugula, blue cheese and caramelized onions, the Father’s Office burger is a SoCal original. They don’t accept substitutions – it’s a one-size-fits all burger, and at $12, it’s not cheap, either. This busy bar tends to get loud when its crowded – which is most of the time. Try sweet potato fries (with garlic sauce) to go with the burger. (Ketchup is a no-no at this establishment). As a cute, creative bonus, the fries are served in a miniature shopping cart. Wet your whistle with a choice of a few dozen micro-brews and other beers. Father’s Office offers a small selection of niche wines as well.