The 24 Best Burger Joints in LA
LA is a burger town, and these are the best ones around, from pop-ups to classic diners, fancy date spots, and everywhere in between.
LA is big enough that you can call it just about any kind of town and get away with it. It is a taco town, a porkstrami town, a streetball town. But it is not food writer pablum to say that LA is also a burger town.
It is the city that gifted the world with the concept of the modern drive-thru, where eating a yellow paper-swaddled cheeseburger in your car in traffic is an earnest pleasure, where there are whole restaurants devoted to precisely recreating the fast-casual burger experience for the vegan crowd. We have fancy burgers and backyard burgers, burgers influenced by global flavors and burgers served practically nude, burgers at breweries, butcher shops, comedy shows, Hollywood hotspots, Thai restaurants, and everywhere in between. These are our favorites of them all:
Poking fun at a city where almost everyone is striving to be some sort of famous, Uncool has quickly become a favorite neighborhood bar, offering a stellar lineup of breakfast favorites, burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, fries, and wings, in addition to craft cocktails, all served in a cozy environment with a white-tile-backed bar and flourishes of fluorescent lighting. There’s also an outdoor patio where you can people-watch in one of Weho’s busiest strip malls. The burgers are crafted with grass-fed beef chuck and short rib blend, but can be swapped with a vegan Impossible patty or Wagyu patty for a couple more bucks. They’ve got a classic option as well as a signature Uncool Burger with house-made sauce, American cheese, onion jam, a cheese crisp, and house pickles, or opt for The Rolls Royce of Burgers—which is the actual name of this creation that comes with a double Wagyu patty, black truffle mayo, truffle cheese, and onion jam. Absolutely get an order of wings on the side (with a boneless vegan option available), which come in flavors like Cacio e Pepe, Mango Habanero, Korean BBQ, and Chili Lime Tajin. Finish it off with one of their adultified snow cones, like the Strawberry-Basil Daiquiri.
How to book: Walk in or order pickup via Toast.
Hawkins House Of Burgers
This Black-woman-owned spot started off as a roadside stand in 1939, and though the menu has since expanded, they’re still beloved for hefty burgers made with quality ingredients and other comfort dishes. The Colossal Burger is true-to-name: piled high with pastrami and a thick burger patty, plus lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, mustard, and mayo. Meanwhile, the Leaning Tower of Watts goes even further with three half-pound patties stacked below a hot link, pastrami, eggs, chili, bacon, with a large order of fries and two drinks on the side because obviously this is a meal you’ll need to share. Don’t worry, Hawkin’s has kept up with the times and offers a menu of “Healthier Options,” including a Turkey Burger, Veggie Burger, Chicken Burger, and Fish Burger. A survivor of the Watts and Rodney King uprisings, Hawkins House of Burgers is open seven days a week and has come to represent a symbol of resilience in the community.
How to book: Walk in or order pickup and delivery online.
For The Win
Chef Santos Uy may have lost a lovely French bistro when he shuttered Papilles, but he gained a rapidly expanding empire by opening burger shop For The Win in the same space. Uy’s smashburgers are simple and classic, with a grass-fed patty, house-made sauce, and the usual toppings on a toasted Martin’s Potato Roll, executed flawlessly every time. The strength of that burger has led to new outposts in Whittier and Glendale, with more to come. Watch your back, red-and-yellow giants.
How to order: Pickup via Chownow.
In El Sereno, Alicia Lopez and Cecilia Ledezma are serving one of the coolest burgers in town—the Tepic, a smashburger with ham and the unmeltable panela both grilled on the flat top before being stacked onto the burger. It creates a perfect salty punch over the lacey burger patty, a unique tribute to the capital city of the Mexican state of Nayarit. They move around a lot, but it’s worth chasing this pop-up down, especially when they end up at a brewery—the Tepic goes particularly well with a crisp craft beer.
How to order: Walk-up only, check their Instagram for pop-up locations.
Burgerlords is a picture-perfect fast food-style burger joint; the buns are squishy, the sauce is rich, the toppings are crisp, the fries are good, and the booths are classic but actually still clean. There’s only one thing out of the ordinary—it’s entirely vegan. As of 2020, there are no animal products anywhere in the house. But whether you’re a plant-based person or not, the fact remains—these are some outstanding burgers, with a house-made patty built fresh every day from a complicated recipe of 30 plants, grains, spices, and nuts. Grab your tofu nuggets, your tahini shake, and tuck in.
How to order: Pickup via Toast.
Amboy Quality Meats
Chef Alvin Cailan hosts a YouTube show called "The Burger Show" where he dives deep into the world of meat on a bun, so he absolutely knows his way around ground beef. At his Chinatown restaurant/butcher shop in the former Chego space, he serves burgers in several forms, ranging from the loose-packed thin patty on the Classic Double to the thicker and richer version on the Royale and all the way through to a ten-ounce dry-aged beast with caramelized onions and garlic confit on the DH Burger. If you like what you get, you can take home the Amboy blend ground beef, steak, rubs and seasonings, and some very fly merch.
How to order: Pickup via their website.
Dott Bott Burger
Neither Mike Holmes nor Stacy Boyer is a professionally trained chef, but the husband and wife duo behind newish Eagle Rock pop-up Dott Bott Burger are doing all the right chefy things to elevate their backyard-style burgers. Holmes grinds the meat and tirelessly tinkers with sauce, Boyer makes the buns from scratch, and they’ve created a burger with just the right balance. They’ve taken over dinner duties on Wednesday nights at the Fable during the bar’s weekly stand-up comedy show, which is particularly convenient for everyone—Holmes is a comedian who takes a break from flipping burgers to hop on stage, serving dinner and a show.
How to order: Walk-up only, check their Instagram for pop-up locations.
Roadside burger stands are one of LA’s most underrated institutions, restaurants that get tons of traffic but little attention. Menus and specialties vary—some of them are better known for breakfast burritos and some for pastrami, some for chili and some for teriyaki, and in the case of Hi-Life, for a particularly perfect cheeseburger. The South Pasadena institution has been selling burgers since the ‘70s, and they have all that vintage charm, simply dressed with thousand island and the classic quartet of lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles, with a good char on the patty and a the right squish-crunch ratio.
How to order: Order directly via the website.
When the window at American Beauty opened a couple years ago, the under-$4 cheeseburger seemed like a revelation. It’s a testament to its greatness that not only have they not raised the prices, but the flat-top grilled, American-cheese-laden burger still hits exactly the right note. The Win-Dow’s sandwiches have been in such high demand that they added a stand to the Venice Boardwalk and another location way East in Silver Lake, in addition to their original window on Rose.
How to book: Order pickup via Toast or delivery via UberEats.
Burgers Never Say Die
What started as a backyard pop-up out of chef/owner Shawn Nee’s Silver Lake home quickly turned into an Instagram sensation, and then eventually into a brick-and-mortar space on Glendale Blvd in 2019. Known for its purist smashburgers, you need not make any modifications to the Regular (a single patty topped with ketchup, mustard, onions and pickles) to get that perfect burger, which turns out to be basically a McDonald’s cheeseburger, if McDonald’s was actually good.
Gigi’s owner Alex Wilmot was the co-founder of NYC burger restaurant Whitmans (known for its take on the Midwest Juicy Lucy), so it’s no surprise that the burger at this Hollywood hotspot is worthy of inclusion. The juicy patty here is topped with caramelized onions, pickles and served on a potato bun with expertly made French fries. The only hard part is scoring a reservation.
Grill 'Em All
The metalhead’s burger shop started as a food truck in 2009, gaining a fiendish legion of fans at the peak of the truck craze before thundering into a storefront in Alhambra in 2013. They won their fame off of a menu of wild combinations inspired by legends like the Dee Snider with peanut butter, strawberry jam, bacon, and sriracha, and the Napalm Death with pepper jack, pickled jalapeno, jalapeno poppers, and cream cheese. It’s hard to say whether it’s better to burn out or slowly fade away, but it’s been more than a decade and Grill Em All doesn’t seem ready to do either one.
The burger spot from the Badmaash boys has a nostalgia-fueled take on a double cheeseburger that may remind you of a certain chain’s Double Double, with a tangy, slightly spicy special sauce. But there is also a Hickory Bacon Burger which hits the right smoky-sweet note, and they make their own patties for their vegan burger. Don’t miss the milkshakes, either, which come in rotating seasonal flavors. Pay attention to the daily specials, which have been known to include fully loaded hot dogs, fried chicken sandwiches, and breakfast burritos.
This reopened and revitalized version of the long-closed LA classic nails its burgers, the purist’s version of which is made from Aspen Ridge beef and topped with Thousand Island, tomatoes, onions, and pickles on a Parker House bun. Don’t sleep on the patty melt, either, which has that same perfect patty with Swiss cheese and grilled onions on buttery sourdough, a thoroughly indulgent treat.
How to order: Via Toast.
It seems that no one really knows the proper name of this blink-and-you’ll miss it, postcard-sized, Oxnard Street stand, but it doesn’t matter: what you do know is that if they’re open, Bill will be there (like he has been for the past 50-something years) and, maybe more importantly, Bill’s grill will still be there too. The perfectly seasoned flat-top adds an extra something-something to griddled double cheeseburgers that simultaneously taste like childhood and the best thing you’ve had since then. Bill, who is 94 years old, has threatened to retire soon—there were rumors during the pandemic that a sale was imminent—so now maybe is the time to go before he actually hangs his spatula up.
How to order: Walk up and order or call 818-785-4086 for pickup.
You may think this is a legacy pick, but in fact you’re telling on yourself—go back and try it again. Chef Sang Yoon’s legendary creation helped kick off the fancy bar burger wave (and the No Substitutions wave), and to this day the thick and juicy patty with caramelized onion jam, bacon, blue cheese, and arugula on a crusty French roll is undeniably good as hell. Now if only we didn’t have to sneak ketchup in like booze to the Rose Bowl.
This Venice beach dive is legendary for all the right reasons—good beer, a fun crowd, and great classic burgers just steps from the sand. It’s been open since 1969 doing more or less the same thing, and the formula just works, plain and simple. And it doesn’t hurt that the kitchen doesn’t close until the bar does.
Originally a pop-up, then a stand at Smorgasburg, and now a pop-up in the former Beer Belly space in KTown, Love Hour hits the smashburger nail on the head with their thin, crispy, oniony, cheesy burg. Their hours are limited and they have more merch options than menu items, but a visit is always a party and the hype is justified for this swaggy stand.
Everson Royce Bar
The festive downtown bar from the Silver Lake Wine gang and chef Matt Molina may have the simplest burger in town, but it is also one of the absolute best. The burger is just prime chuck, cheddar, dijonaise, and a pickle on a brioche bun, but it hits exactly the right indulgent notes—it is intensely salty and super rich, a concentrated burst of flavor that punches way above its weight. You can get it as a double if you really want to, but it’s sort of a hat on a hat; you’re better off putting that stomach capacity towards their unreal buttermilk biscuits with honey butter, or another killer cocktail.
When the brick-and-mortar version of this LA legend closed due to COVID, there was such an uproar that they had no choice but to bring it back, taking over evening hours at Cofax, the nearby coffee and burrito spot from the same owners. It’s been more than a decade since the Golden State opened, and the burger is still among the city’s best, Harris Ranch beef always cooked to the perfect temperature, with an impeccable patty-to-bun-to-cheese-to-bacon ratio; if you’re in the mood to get a little funky, the lamb burger with tzatziki and gruyere is another great call.
How to book: via Chownow.
This brunch spot has been a quiet burger-game contender for years, since the restaurant’s sandwiches are often overshadowed by its (stellar) scrambles. Don’t sleep on these monstrous burgers, though, especially the weird ones —spicy tuna may seem like an oddball topping for a burger, but it seriously works. Seriously.
Head to Apple Pan, wait in line to sit on their new picnicky patio and when it’s your turn get the Hickory burger; immediately you’ll be hit with nostalgia for a time you never knew, a mid-century fever dream of sweet and tangy sauce, cold coca-cola, hot apple pie, and a pat on the back that’s just a little too familiar.
Pie 'n Burger
Some parts of Pasadena already feel a little unstuck in time, a quiet suburb with wide streets and big lawns, so it makes sense that walking into Pie ‘n Burger, one of Pasadena’s iconic restaurants, feels like stepping right into a mid-century cafe. The formica counters glisten, the meringue on top of their famous pies jiggles just so, and the burgers are the old-fashioned ideal, big but not massive, simply wrapped in tan paper with a little too much sauce.
How to book: Walk-ins only.
This famously off-menu Jonathan Gold favorite was invented by owner/chef Sarintip "Jazz" Singsanong as a way to give her daughter an American-style lunch to bring to school, before catching on as a dish at the restaurant. But it has become legendary for good reason—the beef is blended with dried chilis, palm sugar, shallot, and a mysterious mix of other spices, and is served with lettuce, tomato, and onion for a wild only-in-LA combination.