Burgers! Burgers! Burgers!
A round up of well done bites... the southland is serious about its burgers.
The culinary world’s most storied, yet simplest, creation remains the beloved hamburger. It is, at its core, just a patty of ground meat on a bun. That’s it. Yet this deceivingly simple dish is also one of the most difficult to perfect, and when we don’t like it, it’s such a disappointment. But when it succeeds, it can be life-alteringly scrumptious. Boulevard loves burgers and we recognize we’re in a great town for finding fantastic versions. Of course, we’ve just scratched the surface and there are many more burgers out there, but here’s a selection that will keep you cow chomping for a long time! (Or turkey tasting or veggie patty devouring as the case may be.)
What’s In a Name?
There are many restaurants where “burger” is in the name, and naturally, you expect those eateries to be experts on making our juicy dreams come true. Boulevard has tried our fair share and we certified that these selections are masters of the art of the burger. Try our recommendations!
Stout Burger & Beers (Studio City, Hollywood, with Pasadena and Santa Monica locations coming soon)
Description: Yummiest burgers of the bunch. Open til 4:00 am. Great beer pairings to boot.
Recommendations: Stout Burger (blue cheese, emi gruyere, rosemary bacon, caramelized onion, horseradish cream, roasted tomatoes). Or the IOS 3:00 am Burger (chicken burger with tzatziki, Greek fries, eggplant spread, feta cheese—try it over a salad instead of a bun!) Save room for dessert because the bread pudding is phenomenal!
Verdict: This is another great choice for those who want a late bite to eat. Their beef is some of the best Boulevard has tasted—melt in your mouth tender. While this place already existed in Hollywood, Studio City is lucky to be its second home. Stay tuned for the Pasadena location coming soon!
Hamburger Hamlet (Sherman Oaks and Pasadena)
Description: Known for simply marvelous food in a casual comfortable setting.
Burger Recommendations: Napa Valley Burger (arugula, tomato, goat cheese, roasted garlic, and basil pesto) or Gourmet Sliders (mini versions of their steakhouse blue, caliente, classic, and hickory)
Verdict: Made famous in part by HBO’s hit series, Entourage, as a clandestine, Hollywood agent-free zone for meetings, the truth is, it really is a cool meeting place, if not to sign mega-million dollar deals, then to hang out with friends while you shop. Known for their hamburgers, they also offer a large selection of other options with plenty of seating and great service in a laid back setting.
Burger Continental (Pasadena)
Description: Middle Eastern flair with a great back patio section and an all you can eat salad bar.
Burger Recommendations: The Greek Feta Burger (feta cheese, toscanelli bread and red onion) or The Godfather Burger (linguini and marinara sauce on French bread with cheese).
Verdict: Great place to stop by for lunch with their all you can eat options and great lunch specials.
Eat That Burger (North Hollywood)
Description: Excellent fast food alternative, especially if you want to support a fantastic local business—super cute, with a friendly owner (tell Lubo Boulevard says “hi”) and tasty food.
Burger Recommendations: BBQ Pork Burger or Double Jalapeno Burger
Verdict: Honestly, if it weren’t for the Yelp raves, we may never have found this little gem. This is not a gourmet spot, but it’s got heart and adorable white tables with yellow chairs. Decor does count! We understand why Yelpers like this place, and we’re sure you will too.
Rounds Premium Burgers (Pasadena, Sherman Oaks, Claremont & a truck)
Description: Fresh food just the way you like it!
Burger Recommendations: The Western (BBQ sauce, bacon, and onion strings) or Build-Your-Own (There are so many great choices including Tabasco Ketchup and breaded jalapenos.)
Verdict: Boulevard loves Rounds, its owners, dining in the outdoor seating area in Pasadena, people watching happy families, and chowing down. Check out a full review in this issue.
Slater’s 50/50 – Burgers By Design (Pasadena)
Description: Big, super busy, a sports enthusiast’s dream spot.
Burger Recommendations: If you’re not going to (as the name suggest) design it yourself, then go for the Peanut Butter & Jellousy Burger. It’s a crowd favorite, topped with bacon, creamy peanut butter, strawberry jelly, and can be made à la mode for those adventurous types. Or try the famous 50/50 burger made from 50% ground bacon and 50% ground beef.
Verdict: If you want a simple classic burger, you may be overwhelmed with all the choices here, especially some of the more outrageous ones. Leave your diet at home.
Burger’s Not In the Name, But...
These places aren’t what you may think of as burger joints first and foremost but they do serve them and serve them well—or medium rare if you prefer! Let the mouth watering, lip-licking life you deserve begin with this impressive Boulevard list of favorites!
The Six (Studio City)
Description: Cool, hip, choose from six exciting starters, six savory entrees, six red wines, six white wines, six brews on tap & six desserts—hence the name. Get it?
Burger Recommendation: Six Burger (brioche bun, tomato, Maytag blue cheese, onion rings, butter lettuce, thousand island (turkey patty on request)
Verdict: The turkey Sloppy Joes remain one of our favorite meals in this area. This place has a cool concept, great atmosphere, and noteworthy food. A must try!
Tula’s Restaurant @ The Beverly Garland Hotel (North Hollywood)
Description: Fabulous California Market fare in an urban setting.
Burger Recommendations: Beverly’s Burger (a one half pound beef patty served with your choice of cheese, California avocado, and Applewood smoked bacon) or Tula’s Sliders (a trio of shaved beef sliders, with remoulade aioli and pickled baby bell peppers)
Verdict: Boulevard still stands in awe of Tula’s renovations. We love the new decor. But most importantly, the food here rivals the best restaurants in town.
Dog Haus Biergarten (Pasadena, Old Pasadena, Alhambra)
Description: Gourmet hot dog & hamburger spot in comfortable ambience including indoor/outdoor seating, with live music on the weekends.
Burger Recommendations: The Little Mule (fried egg, white American cheese, tomatillo sauce, spicy basil aioli, and avocado) or Juicy Lucy (yellow cheese stuffed patty, caramelized onions and mayo)
Verdict: You won’t mind being sent to the dog house when the dog house in question is the epicurean eatery Dog Haus Beirgarten. They offer dogs far from those you may be used to. They kick both dogs and burgers up to a whole new level of gourmet. Don’t miss the Scott Baioli—a quarter pound, all beef, skinless dog literally packed with caramelized onions, smoked bacon, white American cheese, and garlic aioli.
Gus’s BBQ (Pasadena)
Description: BBQ is the star, but the burger is well worth mentioning.
Burger Recommendations: Gus’s Famous Burger (cheddar cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, shredded onion rings, and a mixture of Gus’s original BBQ sauce and roasted garlic aioli) or The Fremont (sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, arugula, tomato, smoked mozzarella and aioli drizzled with sweet balsamic reduction)
Verdict: If you want BBQ, then this is the place to go. Period. We love this joint and since 1946, it’s always been hopping so we know we’re not alone. They have a cool truck that is great for tailgating gatherings too.
Plate 38 (Pasadena)
Description: Modern, hip, and delicious.
Burger Recommendations: 1/3 lb Smoked Mozzarella Burger (smoked mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, arugula, chive aioli on a brioche bun) and their Gingered Sweet Potato Fries are amazing—one of Boulevard’s favorites!
Verdict: They have spiced up their décor and kicked up the menu to new levels of deliciousness. Their new menu features dishes you have never seen before and won’t find anywhere else! Here’s a sneak preview of their excellent breakfast menu, served on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings: leek stuffed Portobello mushrooms, shrimp and grits with mozzarella and prosciutto, shredded potato cake (like mega-fancy hash browns), and ricotta blueberry pancakes. Chef/owner Robert Humphries puts his own special tweak on the classics, creating vibrant, healthy, California-style dishes. They are open for lunch and dinner in a relaxing, fun environment. Come after work for drinks and appetizers at happy hour. They have a magnificently stocked bar and their beers include domestic, imported, and draft.
King’s Row Gastropub (Old Pasadena)
Description: Fun and inviting, a diverse gathering destination. Great place for weekend bluegrass or down and dirty live blues music.
Burger Recommendation: Buddy Burger (for lunch, 4 oz dry aged blend burger, house bun, arugula, tomato, American cheese, thousand island) or the Shishito Burger (21-day dry aged beef, blistered shishitos, white cheddar, hoisin BBQ, arugula, pickled ginger aioli)
Verdict: You can’t discuss gastropubs without including Kings Row—they are the gastropub of gastropubs and the talk of the town! Their new American gastropub fare is incredibly fresh and the King’s Row cicerone (certified beer expert and General Manager, James Willis) will expertly pair each dish with the perfect beer or wine. James just happens to be the ONLY certified cicerone in Pasadena! Their talented Executive Chef, Sunny Vorha, collaborates with the owners and the multi-talented Mr. Willis to come up with fresh, interesting, and more than anything—delicious menu items to serve. Their food is always as locally sourced as possible, and popular dishes include fish & chips, King’s Burger, Duck Sliders, Tandori Chicken Pizza, Gluten Free Chicken and Waffles, and the aptly named Crack Mac. The minimalist décor features exposed brick and warm tones for a laid back and unpretentious dining experience. Their patio is a major plus—we love it! I really do hate to state the obvious but they have an awesome beer selection.
The Original Tops (Pasadena)
Description: A Pasadena Institution that prides itself on using the freshest ingredients. One of the pioneers of the fast and casual concept of American dining.
Burger Recommendations: Tops Special (1/4 lb topped with pastrami, mustard and American cheese) or the Kobe Bistro Burger (1/2 lb of Kobe beef, smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions, tomato, mixed greens, and herb mayonnaise)
Verdict: Come one, come all. This is a truly family friendly establishment. There is so much care put into the food. The pastrami, a fan favorite, is cured for three days and is absolutely delicious. Everything is made fresh everyday, including their sauces (which are done in-house, prepared starting at 5am each morning). Pancho, one of the workers at Tops has been there for over 16 years and is a total sweetheart. As a matter of fact, the entire staff was a joy to interact with. And to get back to the burgers for a moment—that grilled flavor is so real and so wonderful. Boulevard loves Tops.
The Tuning Fork (Studio City)
Description: Unique gastropub, groovy environment serving GREAT food, libations, and service without pretension.
Burger Recommendation: Cucumber Blue (paper thin cucumber and crumbled bleu cheese) or the Mushroom Truffle (goat cheese, menage au mushroom, organic local truffle oil).
Verdict: They offer casual wood furniture and a craft beer bar. There is an added dimension of sophistication that sets it apart from the other dressed-up casual dining spots, which makes it a good choice for a first date. They offer classic Los Angeles comfort food, but here it is farm fresh and the menu changes seasonally. We’re talking natural, healthy, down to earth food served at a reasonable price. They have excellent vegan choices like their Vegan Soup (made with white beans) and their Eyes of the World burger (made from eggplant and lentil—a great gluten-free option). Dessert is often the time to throw away notions of keeping it light and their Murder By Chocolate is the best reason ever to indulge! They also offer unique small-production wines and micro-brewed beer which change with the seasons. Yum, yum, yum.
Curry Up Café (Woodland Hills)
Description: Super cool Asian-Mex fusion. Boulevard loves Chef Wongie.
Burger Recommendation: Korean Spicy Beef Bulgogi Burger or Curry Loco Moco Burger
Verdict: Let’s face it, fusion is fun. If you love all types of Asian and recognize that a Mexican twist can be inspired, then this is your place. Fun, creative, scrumptious food.
Good Microbrew (Silverlake)
Description: A Silverlake standard, central gathering place, with a casual and comfortable environment. Great for watching sports and partaking in specialty microbrews.
Burger Recommendations: Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bacon Bit Burger (spicy chipotle sauce, pepper jack cheese, and sautéed mushrooms) or the Exorcism Burger (possessed and topped with a halo of chewy, crispy melted cheese).
Verdict: They have expanded to 25 microbrews on tap with an incredible selection of over 300 bottled beers from around the world. Is there a big event coming up that you want to watch on television? They have 14 giant flat screens that keep you in the moment, every moment. Always something good going on at Good Microbrew. On Saturday and Sunday until 3:00 pm, you get bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys. After 10 years, Mystery Beer Night on Wednesdays is still going strong with $3.00 brews, not to mention Bingo every Thursday evening from 7:00 pm til 9:30 pm! New on the menu are Prince Edward mussels and delectable dessert crepes, among other delights. Good Microbrew is a landmark sports restaurant offering great microbrews and food with a touch of hipster, yet still downright neighborly! Winner of the first original Micro-Brewery in Silverlake. For light fare, don’t miss the Raw Kale, Couscous, Quinoa salad—guilt free eating at it’s best!
Lucky Baldwin’s British Pub & Café (Old Town Pasadena)
Description: A family friendly pub with great outdoor seating and friendly service.
Burger Recommendation: Lucky Baldwin’s Beef Burger (8 oz patty, lettuce, tomato, and onion on a brioche bun with your choice of cheese) and Loaded Crisps (homemade potato chips topped with bacon, blue cheese sauce, and tomatoes.)
Verdict: This is a great beer bar featuring incredible craft beers. If quality brew is what you want, this is the Pasadena hot spot to hit.
Carney’s (Studio City, Los Angeles)
Description: Eatery set aboard a historic train. Known mostly for it’s hot dogs (which are delicious) but offers quite a few other must tries.
Burger Recommendation: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Turkey or Garden Burger—with or without chilli—all good eats.
Verdict: Great family friendly eatery—kids will love eating in a train. Be prepared for a long line at lunchtime but well worth the wait. Both indoor and outdoor seating. Other location is in Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard. Open late.
Blu Jam Cafe (Sherman Oaks)
Description: New hot spot, trendy, fun and jam packed
Burger Recommendation: Gourmet Burger (grilled Wagyu ground beef with pesto aioli, sautéed mushrooms, crispy bacon, gorgonzola, caramelized onions, wild arugula) or the Brunch Burger (grilled Wagyu ground beef with crispy bacon, chipotle aioli, wild arugula, fresh tomato, cheddar & one over easy egg)
Verdict: Their burgers are really good! This place offers great food and quality service with a refreshing ambiance. Besides burgers they offer great breakfast options including healthy vegan and gluten-free options. They offer an excellent health and fitness menu— you gotta love eating phenomenal food that is also guilt free! They are only open for breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch. Their other Los Angeles location on Melrose has long been a local hot spot and this one is quickly becoming one as well.
Cafe 140 South (Pasadena)
Description: Quaint neighborhood hangout. Bright and cheery, with a friendly staff.
Burger Recommendation: The Oakwood Grilled Cheeseburger (grilled onions, blue cheese, lettuce) or the Cafe 140 Special Burger (custom blend of brisket rib ground fresh daily with blue cheese)
Verdict: Great upscale casual dining. This is part of the Parkway Grill/Smittys/Arroyo Chophouse group—all very cool restaurants. The pizzas here get rave reviews, the swordfish tacos are fantastic, and they make great margaritas.
Grassroots Natural Market and Kitchen (South Pasadena)
Description: Established in 1968, it’s a long time community favorite, offering a full service eatery along with a well stocked grocery department.
Recommendation: Veggie burger wrap (gluten free or whole wheat tortilla, veggie burger, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, avocado, cheddar cheese, sprouts, and your choice of dressing).
Verdict: Owners Marla and Meir Puni are always ready to talk to you about their products. You can walk into Grassroots any time and find Meir or Marla handing out expert advice about homeopathic solutions to all that ails you. They are known as the Grass Roots Doctors of Homeopathic Solutions. Marla and Meir pride themselves on keeping up with the demands of healthy lifestyles, catering to the needs of parents with autistic children, those who suffer from celiac disease, allergy sufferers, and simply healthy eaters. The restaurant, a full-service eatery complete with new grab and go meals, feeds a large crowd daily. They offer wonderful workshops, so make sure to check their website often to see what’s happening next.
Home (Los Feliz and Silverlake)
Description: Great atmosphere and decor, and a cool place to come for happy hour.
Burger Recommendation: Blackened Ahi Tuna Burger (seared blackened sashimi grade Ahi tuna topped with tomatoes, ripe avocado, mixed greens, and basil aioli sauce on a whole wheat bun) or Soy Chicken Burger (soy chicken patty topped with avocado, their mixed green blend, and sliced tomato, served on a brioche bun with basil aioli sauce).
Verdict: Both locations provide you with charming, whimsical décor and just a touch of sophistication. Home Los Feliz, with its gorgeous multi-level outdoor patios surrounded by trees, makes you feel like you’re dining in a tree house. Home 2, in Silverlake, combines equal parts country charm and rustic chic for what is both a casual, comfortable eatery and a sophisticated, upscale dining establishment. The generous menu ranges from home style vittles like Mom’s Meatloaf and Grandma Dee’s Fried Chicken, to upscale entries like Chicken Tuscany and Caramelized Apple Salad.
Coral Tree Cafe (Encino)
Description: Offers “honest to goodness” healthy and organic California-style cuisine in a casual indoor/outdoor atmosphere.
Burger Recommendation: Signature Vegan Veggie Burger (house made veggie patty, lettuce, roma tomatoes, served on a ciabatta roll with a side of remoulade sauce)
Verdict: This is a cool place to come and meet friends, use the free wifi, and enjoy a tasty meal on the healthy side. They also have other locations in Brentwood and Century City.
Open 24 Hours
Hankering for a hamburger, but it’s 4:30 in the morning? Have no fear! Boulevard has found a place that’s always open!
25° at the Hollywood Roosevelt
Description: This is the fashionable Hollywood landmark’s answer to the beloved American hotel diner. Perky pastels are replaced with lounge-y chandeliers and rich jewel tones. The restaurant’s namesake is the precise temperature difference between a raw and well-done hamburger.
Burger Recommendation: As the name subtly suggests, there are many degrees at which you can enjoy your burger, from the “Craft Your Own” beef, turkey, tuna or veggie patty sporting a myriad of cheeses and toppings, to their delectable signature sandwiches. Not surprisingly, a good number of customers make things easy on themselves by going for the Number One (caramelized onion, gorgonzola, bacon, arugula, and thousand island dressing).
Verdict: If you’re in Hollywood or out late, you can’t beat this place. They’ve also got a full bar with great beer selections and superb milkshakes. Enjoy with confidence.
In Case You Wanna Just Cook Your Own
La Cense Beef offers 100% grass-fed beef directly from their ranch to your kitchen. They are committed to a more natural and compassionate approach to ranching. They are not part of a consortium of ranchers, nor are they middlemen. They do the ranching, the selling, and the packing. That is how they can ensure quality and guarantee your satisfaction. La Cense Beef prides themselves on producing a pure, healthy, sustainable product that will grace your table and satisfy your hunger for real beef. They offer great steaks, burgers and a whole host of great grilling items! Order online at www.lacensebeef.com