Embrace the Elements With Fire & Smoke Burgers
Farm-sourced wagyu patties near the beach
The same minds that brought you Sugarfish and Uovo (which is right next door) are in charge of HiHo, which serves double-decker cheeseburgers made with wagyu beef from one specific (and delicious) New Zealand farm. The burgers are stacked with lettuce, pickles, ketchup, and onion jam on a white bun -- a traditional kick to a leveled-up burger.
An Italian spot that's putting Bolognese sauce on a burger
The fancy-ish Italian restaurant Rossoblu may be best-known for their pastas, but the Bolo Burger -- now available at brunch -- could turn that around. Chef Steve Samson’s dishing out a thick-patty ground on a milk bun with slaw and ragu sauce -- a sort of sloppy joe-meets-burger masterpiece that’s an excellent way to start a weekend day.
A pop-up burger that’s outgrown its reputation
So here’s the thing about Burgers Never Say Die: it doesn’t really exist as a restaurant at all. Instead, it started as an Instagram phenomenon -- a killer, classic burger, made in front of some dude’s house, leading to long lines, tons of hype, and a takedown from the cops. But from the ashes has come one of LA’s most sought-after pop-ups, appearing at Smorgasburg and Animal with smashed patties and oozy cheese. Follow their Instagram to find out where they’re gonna be next, or wait a bit: they’ve got a lease signed on a brick & mortar in Silver Lake.
Providence chef Michael Cimarusti’s umami-forward new burger
Michael Cimarusti may be most famous for the seafood he serves at Providence and Connie and Ted's, but that’s what makes his burger -- at Best Girl, the restaurant in the Ace Downtown -- so exciting. Not only does he eschew brioche in favor of a potato bun, but it’s topped with a sauce made from umeboshi, a salty plum that knocks your taste buds away into umamified bliss.
Rock 'n' roll burgers with all the toppings you can imagine
Here’s what’s sad about Grill ‘Em All: the metal-influenced burger shop hasn’t expanded from its one storefront in Alhambra, which means hungry heshers have to choose between concoctions like the Jump in the Fire (an unholy concoction that sees a burger topped with fried chicken, bacon, Sriracha, and maple between two waffles -- yes, waffles) and the killer Chinese food around it. Hey guys: it’s time for another store. Please?
An In-N-Out-style burger in an ‘80s arcade bar
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 video-game-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).
A decadent burger at an LA institution
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.
No-frills, David Chang-approved beef
This reopened and revitalized version of the long-closed LA classic nails its burgers, the classic version of which is made from grass-fed ground beef and topped with Thousand Island, tomatoes, onions, and pickles on a Parker House bun. Don’t sleep on the patty melt, though: David Chang has called it the best version he’s ever tasted.
An old-school shack, with an old-school burger, made by an old-school guy
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 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.
Redondo Beach & Hermosa Beach
The South Bay’s long-standing burger champs
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.
Fairfax (& other locations)
A locally beloved chain with massive burger patties and interesting toppings
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.
Culver City and Santa Monica
The fancy burger that changed fancy burgers forever
“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.
A massive burger that’s best at Happy Hour
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.
The best drinking-base burger on the Westside
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, freshly 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.
A massive flavor-punch in a not-at-all-massive burger
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, 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.
Gooey cheese and a perfect ratio makes this staple pop
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.
Top your burger with sushi and more at this beachside staple
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.
Your grandma’s favorite burger -- and maybe yours, too
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 smoky sauce and crisp iceberg was as heavenly as it could get.
An unexpected bite from pickled shallots makes this Eastside burger extra-special
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.
A classic burger worth braving hordes of tourists for
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. Guaranteed.
Our critic calls it the best in LA
Our National Burger Critic Kevin Alexander called it the Best Burger in LA, and, we’re not gonna argue with anyone who holds the job title “National Burger Critic.” It’s a stone-cold, simple classic, but once you eat it once, you have to eat it again. And again.
A loose-pattied burger, made with love
This family-run, hole-in-a-hole-in-the-wall strip mall joint has moved locations a couple of times, but what hasn’t changed is its burgers: a loose-grind, thick-pattied choice that’s overflowing with veggies and flavor.
A former off-menu favorite that’s now also available at lunch
The Hinoki Okonomiyaki burger’s become a thing of legend, not just for its unique flavors (charred, with the premium-cut rib-eye deckle as part of its grind, topped with bonito flakes and seaweed mayo among pickled jalapeño and carrots, as well as other oddball-but-delicious ingredients) but for its former rarity: though it was once only available during happy hour, you can get it during lunch now too.
Hollywood and other locations
A mini-chain with a salty burger that packs a punch
Disciples of the Oinkster crow on and on about its classic Angus beef-pattied burgers, and they’re absolutely right to do so. The mini-chain’s essentially perfected the burger that Five Guys thinks it has, with a perfect salt-to-meat ratio that makes it a shame there aren’t even more locations where you can grab it.
The spiciest burger on this list
This ultra-spicy burger was famously off-menu for years, but the colorful Owner/Chef Sarintip "Jazz" Singsanong has finally added her eponymous patty to the actual menu; the beef is marinated in palm sugar and garlic before being topped with Thai basil and chili, and is wrapped in lettuce instead of buns, for extra crunch (and no extra carbs) (which means you can also order the pad Thai).