Food & Drink

These Are the Best Spots to Get a Burger in LA

Jeff Miller Published On 07/18/2013 Published On 07/18/2013
The Golden State
The Golden State

It’s super-ironic given our international reputation as a health-conscious city, but there’s no doubt: when Angelenos take a cheat day, they eat a burger (and a taco) (and a donut) (and probably some ice cream) (and maybe pizza, even though we’re not really a pizza town) (and let’s be honest, there are seven cheat days in a week). So yeah, lots of great burgers here -- and here are the best. Missing your fave? Play nice and tell us in the comments.

Button Mash

Button Mash

Echo Park

One of LA’s best burgers also comes from one of its most unlikely places: the Asian-leaning menu from the Starry Kitchen duo at the videogame laden gastropub Button Mash. A year was spent researching other burgers to nail this one, which is double-decker a la In-N-Out and smashed to give it crunch; it bashes you with all-American flavor (and also goes great with Dan Dan noodles).

Animal | Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Animal

Fairfax

The Fairfax institution’s Boner Burger (so named because the blend includes bone marrow, so get your mind out of the gutter) started out an off-menu secret but has become a standing favorite, its declaration of decadence boldly stated by its short-rib-chuck-marrow blend, poblano chilies, a zangy sauce, gooey cheese, and grilled onions on toasted, buttered rye.

Courtesy of Cassell's

Cassell’s

Koreatown

This reopened and revitalized version of the long-closed LA classic nails their burgers, which are made from grass-fed ground beef and topped with Thousand Island, tomatoes, onions, and pickles on a Parker House bun. Order the 2/3lb size for perfect ratio -- and next level it by going secret menu, with the Louie Burger (encased in crispy griddled cheese) or the stuffed Juicy Lucy.

Bill’s Hamburgers (aka Bill & Hiroko’s Burgers)

Sherman Oaks

It seems that no one really knows the proper name of this blink-and-you’ll miss it, postcard-sized, Oxnard St stand, but it doesn’t matter: what you do know is that Bill'll be there (like he has been for the past 50-something years) and, maybe more importantly, Bill’s grill’ll 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.

Slater’s 50/50

Slater’s 50/50

Pasadena (& other locations)

This mini-chain’s original burger is unquestionably one of the most savory bites ever: they blend bacon and beef half-and-half for their juicy patty (hence the name) for a salty bite that pretty much smacks you in the face. Top it with everything from a runny egg to peanut butter (yes, seriously) for a straight-up TKO.

The Standing Room

Redondo Beach & Hermosa Beach

The original Redondo Beach location is in the back of a liquor store, and is named because, well, that’s all there is. But the burgers here -- massive patties, with stacked toppings like braised short rib -- have made it a favorite not just for local beach-dwellers, but a destination for burger lovers as well.

Father's Office | Flickr/Larry

Father’s Office

Culver City and Santa Monica

“But,” you may argue, “the Father’s Office burger was the best burger in LA, like, 10 years ago, grandpa?” OK, that’s true. But knocking the FO burger is sort of like knocking Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: without it, all the greatness that came afterwards would never be able to exist. And it still tastes (and sounds) pretty great.

Plan Check | Courtesy of Dylan + Jeni

Plan Check

Fairfax (& other locations)

Originally based in Culver City, this mini-chain emerged during the same burger craze that gave us Umami Burger -- and then blasted past that now-ubiquitous chain quality-wise, with bigger, juicier patties that are consistently, gorgeously drippy. You can’t go wrong with any of their options, from their classic PCB (with the much-lauded “ketchup leather,” essentially a solid version of the condiment) to the just-dropped Chef’s New Favorite, topped with Swiss, bacon, chopped chilies, and avocado spread.

Alexander’s Steakhouse

Alexander’s Steakhouse

Pasadena

So this is smart: this steakhouse takes the leftover choppings from their Wagyu steaks and grinds them together for this beast, and then abets that patty with  dry-aged ragu, camembert, cheddar, tomato, red onion, and marrow mayo, all on a miso dutch crunch bun. Hit it at “social hour” from 5-6:30pm, when the price drops from an unreasonable $26 to a mostly-reasonable $16.

Pistola

Mid-Wilshire

This Italian steakhouse from Vic Casanova quietly dropped the off-menu Gold Label Burger in late 2015 that’s totally incredible: it may be pricy ($19), but it’s massive, and topped with ultra-flavorful fontina, bacon, arugula, onions, and a truffle ketchup that gives it a unique earthy flavor.

Hinano

Hinano

Venice

Can you imagine the outcry if we didn’t put this Westside staple on a list of the best burgers in town? This all-American, perfectly salted, fresh-made patty is the best late-night option near the beach and tastes even better topped with a hot dog, especially if you’re a few drinks in when you get it.

Everson Royce Bar

Downtown

Nearly immediately after opening this Downtown gastropub started getting raves for its deceptively simple burger, which comes from a Mozza alum and is a smaller sandwich, with Tillamook cheddar and a fresh-chuck single patty and mayo. And that’s about it -- but in one bite, you’ll realize you don’t need much more.

26 Beach

26 Beach

Santa Monica

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.

The Golden State

Fairfax

It’s easy to forget this no-frills Fairfax institution, especially since its owners have gone on to open superlative restaurants in other categories (looking at you for BBQ, Bludso’s; and pizza, Prime; and breakfast burritos, Cofax!) But their burger still remains among the city’s best, mostly because it’s always cooked to perfect medium-rareness, and their ratio of patty-to-bun-to-cheese-to-bacon is impeccable.

WOLF | Kenji Fitzgerald

Wolf

West Hollywood

Chef Marcel Vigneron recently won $10,000 for this burger on Top Chef Duels -- which is why he’s calling the egg-topped, avocado-spreaded, brioche-bunned monster the 10k burger. Which is also probably what you’d have to run to work it off.

R&D Kitchen

Santa Monica

Here’s the criticism: it’s owned by Houston’s, and it's really just a Houston’s burger, and Houston’s is a big chain, and big chains don’t make great food, and therefore this can’t be a great burger. But one bite of their house-ground meat blend (with cheddar on an egg bun) will prove you wrong. Because it’s a tasty, tasty burger.

Apple Pan | Wikimedia/Sgerbic

The Apple Pan

West LA

Another LA classic that hasn’t changed in decades, and for good reason -- when you sit down at the bar here and order a Hickory Burger (some people may tell you to get the Steakburger; those people are wrong), you’re hit with nostalgia for a time you probably never even experienced, when burger joints were called soda fountains, everyone behind the counter was a gruff old man, and the sweet, savory taste of smokey sauce and crisp iceberg was as heavenly as it could get.

Bigmista’s

Long Beach

Nothing Neil “Bigmista” Strawder does is half-assed, which means he’s gonna make yours bigger with this burger -- he’s only making 30 a day, so get to LBC ASAP for the Countdown -- a 1/3lb brisket/short-rib patty topped with grilled onions, house smoked bacon, fried egg, and a slice of cheddar, with spicy aioli.

Winsome | Sierra Prescott

Winsome

Echo Park

This newish casual spot from the guys behind the Spare Room has a veggie-friendly menu, which means you can take your non-meat-eaters there and then totally rage this monstrous burger in front of them to make them jealous: its flavor comes not just from the grass-fed beef but also from unique pickled shallots and a crisped, seeded bun.

pier burger | bread and butterpr

Pier Burger

Santa Monica

You’re shaking your head right now, because there’s no doubt in your mind that this burger stand on the Santa Monica Pier is a straight-up tourist trap. Yeah, we were skeptics once, too. Go there. Get the double. Take a bite. Your mind will be instantly, 100% changed. Guarantee.

Sign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.

Jeff Miller drives by Howard’s on Venice all the time and swears that one of these days he’ll go in. He’s at @jeffmillerla on Instagram and @ThrillistLA on Twitter.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Button Mash 1391 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Echo Park)

This Silverlake barcaderestaurant (bar + arcade + restaurant, duh) nails it three ways with food, drink, and games. The Asian-leaning menu, crafted by the critically acclaimed Starry Kitchen duo, features double-fried chicken wings, rice and noodles dishes, and veggie small plates. The throwback games include Donkey Kong, pinball, and the old-school like.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Animal 435 N Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mid Wilshire)

Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook's OG restaurant is a stone-cold classic in Los Angeles known for a constantly changing menu that's always creative and never stale. As the name suggests, Animal specializes in head-to-tail eating and meat-centric plates; past and present hits include a bacon crunch chocolate bar, a barbecue pork belly sandwich, and a short rib and bone marrow-blended burger.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Cassell's Hamburgers 3600 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020 (Koreatown)

Talk about an American classic -- Cassell's Hamburgers, inside the historic Hotel Normandie, is a suave update of the '50 diner or dive serving up filling breakfasts full of chewy bacon and fried eggs over flat beds of hash browns. But that's not the main attraction -- all the attention here goes straight to the burgers, you know, hence the name of the restaurant. Daily ground Colorado Angus chuck and brisket patties sit proudly all on their in Parker House buns, but cheddar or swiss with a mountain of fixings (including avocado and fried eggs for the real burger champs) never hurt anyone, either.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Bill & Hiroko's Hamburgers 14742 Oxnard St, Van Nuys, CA 91411

Also known as Bill's Burgers, this unassuming, 10-by-20-foot burger stand has been dishing out patties for about 50 years. The owner has been behind the counter since day one, making burgers the way the food gods intended: classic white bun, lettuce, pickles, onions, and mayo. No bells, no whistles.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Slater's 50/50 61 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103 (Pasadena)

Slater's 50/50 is a burger restaurant with a serious mission: burgers made from 50% ground beef... and 50% ground bacon. A stunning array of burger options and an impressively long beer list keep the experience fresh after every visit. This is, by far, one of our favorite chains in Los Angeles area.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. The Standing Room 144 N Catalina Ave, Redondo Beach, CA 90277 (Redondo Beach)

Hidden inside Catalina Liquor, The Standing Room is an inconspicuous counter-serve that cooks up incredible burgers in Redondo Beach. The vaguely Asian-American menu has a pretty extensive selection of half-pound burgers and hot sandwiches, plus sides like truffle parmesan fries and shishito peppers. Though The Standing Room is definitely a meat-lover's paradise (burgers are topped with bacon, braised short rib, and Korean-marinated beef), it offers a few vegetarian options like fried tofu and portobello mushroom.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Father's Office 3229 Helms Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034 (Culver City)

Chef Sang Yoon is the brains behind this nationally-acclaimed Los Angeles gastropub. Father's Office is especially famous for its Office Burger: a 100% chuck, dry-aged beef patty topped with blue cheese, arugula, and onion jam, and served on a toasted oval bun with garlic butter. Chef Yoon has a strict no modifications allowed policy on his burger, so either you like it or you don't -- but chances are you probably will.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Plan Check Kitchen + Bar 351 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (West Hollywood)

This sophisticated gastropub -- with a few locations across Los Angeles -- is acclaimed for its burgers, whiskey, and craft beer. The namesake Plan Check burger, topped with pickles, onions, and Americanized dashi cheese, is famous for its layer of Ketchup Leather, which is a square of dehydrated tomato paste that melts over the patty like a layer of cheese. Plan Check’s comfort food vibe makes for a hip and social ambience, complemented by tall communal tables and plenty of bar seating.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Alexander's Steakhouse 111 N Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101 (Pasadena)

This sleek line of steakhouses with locations all over the California (and the world) reinvents American classics with Japanese influences for a dining experience that's as creative as it is elegant. While some like to drop big bucks for the chef's tasting and wine pairings, most just stick to the menu staples like the thick cuts of angus, wagyu beef, venison, and duck. A waiter will know what wine to pair them with -- they've got around 100 to choose from so they know what they're talking about.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Pistola 8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Mid Wilshire)

Vic Casanova's massive Italian steakhouse on 3rd St is a sleeper hit that consistently serves up juicy-in-all-the-right-places steaks and chops. Though prime steaks (shout out to the 40oz Bisteca Fiorontina) are undeniably the highlights of the menu, the pasta dishes and speciality veal parmesan are must-orders as well. Pistola will set your wallet back a chunk but, hey, doesn't everyone deserve a solid steak?

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Hinano Cafe 15 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292 (Venice)

Open since 1969, Hinano Cafe was reportedly Jim Morrison's favorite bar in Venice. Claim to fame aside, the uber-casual, beachside mainstay has great beer and an even better burger, served on a sesame-studded egg bun with standard toppings (lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo, mustard, and relish) and add-ons like cheddar, Swiss, chili, and bacon. The bar slightly resembles a tiki hut from the outside, but the interior is a typical dive scene with a pool table and TVs.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. E.R.B. 1936 E. 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021 (Downtown)

From Matt Molina, a James Beard Award-winning alum of Osteria Mozza, and Randy Clement of Silver Lake Wine, Everson Royce Bar is a relaxed bar with well-constructed cocktails and critically-acclaimed food (especially the burger). The large back patio is a huge draw, complete with picnic tables, wood and brick walls, and a blue bocce court.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
13. 26 Beach 3100 Washington, Los Angeles, CA 90291 (Venice)

Here's a pro tip: When driving towards Marina Del Rey, all chain burger joints along Washington can be ignored -- it's 26 Beach you want. What outwardly appears to be a swanky, modern seafood restaurant is actually a funky little vintage eatery where goliath burgers dominate the menu (you still, however, can get a few seafood entrees here). Whether you go for the classic like The 26er or one of the other 30 more experimental creations, you'll have to throw manner aside to fit one of these towers in your mouth (and, most likely, your stomach.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
14. The Golden State 426 N Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mid Wilshire)

This cafe is sparsely decorated with historical photos and small cartoons, with food and drink coming from some of LA's best: Craftsman beers, and sandwiches from the ex-Rustic Canyon head chef.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
15. Wolf 7661 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046 (West Hollywood)

Marcel Vigneron, the molecular-gastronomy-obsessed runner-up from season two of Top Chef, may be the most love-to-hate-him character in the show's long run. Thankfully, he's much less villainous in person, and his food is much less precious than what he put out on the show. The kitchen tries to utilize every single part of each animal, which means internationally-inflected dishes like Thai-inspired shrimp dumplings with pork belly and vadouvan lamb rack with Romanesco and lebneh.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
16. R+D Kitchen 1323 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403 (Santa Monica)

Simplicity shines through in this minimalist bar and restaurant in Wilshire Montana, where the bar is polished wood, the booths are black leather, and the crowd is casual. Choices here are made easy with a simple menu of sandwiches, salads, and a handful of nightly entrees like grilled salmon and rotisserie chicken. In fact, there's no need to look past the menu's first item, the cheeseburger. Keeping win tune with the restaurant's entire vibe, it's a simple but flavorful combination of fresh beef patty, lettuce & tomato, and house-made egg bun.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
17. The Apple Pan 10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064 (West La)

This West LA diner has been serving burgers, pie, and classic American sandwiches at its U-shaped counter since 1947. Not much has changed about The Apple Pan since it opened: the registers are mechanical, the cooks wear soda jerk paper hats, and the red counter stools are still intact. Thankfully, the menu is pretty much the same too, and the signature Hickoryburger, Steakburger, and banana cream pie are as popular as ever. Fun fact: Diner chain Johnny Rockets is modeled after The Apple Pan.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
18. Bigmista's Barbecue & Sammich Shop 3444 N Los Coyotes Diagonal , Long Beach, CA 90808 (Long Beach)

The first brick-and-mortar from Neil Strawder, aka Bigmista, is cranking out not just the classics (though you'd be hard-pressed to find better pulled pork in town), but next-level dishes as well, like superlatively smoked pastrami and specialty Q-Buns -- rolls with brisket cooked inside.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
19. Winsome 1115 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Echo Park)

There are plenty of reasons to love this contemporary Echo Park restaurant, but our number one is the fantastic brunch menu. Or maybe the outdoor patio. Or the cool hipster ambience. The menu features the kind of comfort food you can't really replicate at home, like grilled cheese with speck and comté, and yeast-risen buckwheat and semolina pancakes. Part coffee shop and bakery, Winsome serves third-wave coffee (so you can get that gibraltar you tried at Blue Bottle) and pastries like sweet or savory brioches and brown butter chocolate chip cookies.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
20. PierBurger 330 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

This burger stand on the Santa Monica Pier might be a bit of a tourist trap, but locals who know their patties agree: it flips some of the best (and least fussy) burgers in LA. Aside from griddled burgers, the counter-serve whips up all-day snack bar food like hot dogs (get one with bacon and cheese), breakfast egg sandwiches, and frozen custard. The Route 66 chocolate concrete, made with chocolate chunks, Oreos, and M&Ms, is pretty unbeatable.

Clickbait