Food & Drink

LA's 11 best under-the-radar burgers

Jeff Miller Published On 01/31/2014 Published On 01/31/2014
Flintridge Proper

Ever notice how all of those "Best Burgers in LA" lists mention the same 20 hamburgers? While yes, Apple Pan, Father's Office, Golden State, Umami, Hungry Cat, and Rustic Canyon all make really, really good burgers, this is actually a city with like a billion burgers -- so there's gotta be other great burgers out there, right? RIGHT?!? Right.

These are those burgers; a collection of under-the-radar gems that haven't appeared on any of the latest "Best Burgers in LA" lists from 1) LAist, 2) the Los Angeles Times, 3) Eater LA, 4) Los Angeles magazine, or 5) LA Weekly.

Jeff Miller

The Restaurant: The Larchmont (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Larchmont Burger
The formerly not-very-special Larchmont Grill was quietly taken over last year by a team that includes chefs from Chez Panisse and Caulfields, and they've put out this burger that ranks among LA's best ever: perfectly cast iron-seared grass-fed beef w/ cave-aged Kaltbach, buttered onions, slow-roasted "overnight" tomatoes, and house-made aioli on a brioche. (See those fries in the back? They're ridiculous, too.)

Mess Hall Kitchen

The Restaurant: Mess Hall Kitchen (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Mess Burger
You'll end up wearing some of this burger... in particular, the smokey sauce... and the slow-cooked onions... and the pickles... and the cheddar... and you'll be totally fine with it.

Jeff Miller

The Restaurant: JNJ Burger Shack (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Four Finger Beef Burger
It's called the Four Finger burger because it's stacked as high as four fingers -- in other words, this guy's monstrous. For $7, you get your weekly allotment of awesome: two hand-pressed patties topped with cheese, two hot dogs, bacon, and a fried egg. Pro tip: their BBQ spot next door has incredible homemade spicy sauce you're gonna want to dip this ground beef sandwich into.

Dustin Downing

The Restaurant: Mo's Fine Food (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Royale with Cheese
This long-standing casual restaurant's been doling out great burgers since 1995. They got rid of a top-your-own-burger bar a few years ago (RIP), but still do both custom jobs and this signature burg, which's got tempura pickles (?!?), white cheddar, crispy polenta, and Marsellus Wallace's soul.

Dog Haus

The Restaurant: Dog Haus (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Motley Bleu
So, this place just won every damn award at Pasadena's Cheeseburger Week, but can't get any critical acclaim? What's up with that? Just look at this thing: a Hawaiian roll with a juicy patty, topped with bacon, arugula, onions, and a smattering of not-too-strong-but-totally-delicious bleu cheese.

Slater's 50/50

The Restaurant: Slater's 50/50 (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Sriracha Burger
Somehow, we left this off our list of epic LA Sriracha dishes, but we're totally down to make up for it here. All of Slater's patties are made with a half-bacon, half-beef blend that's unlike anything you've ever tasted. This man-held is next-leveled with hot sauce COOKED RIGHT INTO THE BURGER, and then topped with a mushroom sauté, pepper jack cheese, and thick-cut Sriracha-bacon ribbons... 'cause you've obviously won a prize. And that prize is obesity!

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The Restaurant: Flintridge Proper (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Proper Burger
Even if they didn't have an amazing burg, it'd be worth a trip to this way-East (and okay, kind of North, too) casual spot, since they have the largest gin selection in the world (seriously!). So order a Pimm's Cup with this kinda-upscale Big Mac: a grass-fed, house-ground patty with homemade American cheese, homemade Thousand Island dressing, shredded iceberg, and optional (hahahahahahaha) twice-smoked bacon.

Seoul Sausage Co.

The Restaurant: Seoul Sausage Co. (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: BBQ Beef Burger
Have you ever gone to KBBQ and thought, "You know what would make this even better? If they ground all this meat up, put it in a patty, and topped it with pickled onions"? These guys clearly thought that too.

The Restaurant: Blue Dog Tavern (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: El Scorpion Burger
This right-where-the-405-meets-the-101 beer bar's quietly made the Valley a place you actually want to go to, thanks to a great selection of brew-dogs and burgs like our pick, the El Scorpion, which's topped with jalapeno cheese sauce, re-refried beans, and homemade tortilla chips.

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The Restaurant: The Standing Room (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Neapolitan
Calling this place a restaurant is really not accurate. It's a deli counter in the back of a liquor store, with no seats or tables at all. But the South Bay-favorite totally destroys in its burger game, with a slew of options with crazy ingredients... like this guy, which uses an Angus beef patty abetted by short rib trimmings, a layer of cheeses, is topped with an egg and more short rib, and then stacked atop truffle fries. Somewhat ironically, standing is going to be hard once you're done.

Jeff Miller

The Restaurant: The Escondite (click here for address and deets)
The Burger: The Captain Kangaroo
It's been a while since we told you about this magical, hidden, Downtown burgery, so we thought we'd remind you with The Captain Kangaroo, which glistens with egg, gravy, Cholula, a crispy hash brown, and Canadian bacon.

Jeff Miller is Thrillist's LA Editor and clearly not a vegetarian. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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1. The Larchmont 5750 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

The Larchmont is poised to present a new take on Californian farm-to-table cuisine in this two-story craftsman style structure.

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2. Mess Hall 4500 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (Los Feliz)

This sleek, summer-camp-themed Loz Feliz spot (think metal cafeteria trays on the wall) pulls out all the stops: an extensive gastro-inspired menu with offerings at breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and late-night, plus a full raw oyster bar. We'll narrow it down for you: try the fried chicken sandwich (with a hot honey aioli), a side of the perfectly crisp french fries, and a mint julep out of their top-notch cocktail program, and head for the outdoor patio.

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3. JNJ Burger Shack 5754 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016 (Baldwin Hills)

Hidden behind awnings and an iron fence, this literal shack in West Adams specializes in burgers and barbecue standbys like pork ribs, beef brisket, and pulled pork. The menu is crowded with meats and sides (collard greens, chili fries, mac & cheese), and you’ll have to make a game time decision between the BBQ combo plate and one of the single or double burgers. Before you make any rash decisions, know that the signature Four Finger Burger -- two patties, two hot dogs, three slices of bacon, and an egg -- is unforgettable. Aside from the kitchen, JNJ is outdoors, but there’s a covered patio with picnic tables.

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4. Mo's Restaurant 4301 W Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91505

Mo's has been serving up mouth-watering burgers since 1995 and they don't plan on slowing down. With a whole page of their menu devoted to burgers with speciality, classic and custom-design options it would be impossible to find something unsuitable.

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5. Dog Haus Biergarten 93 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91105 (Pasadena)

This parlor-style joint brings Pasadena the most creative and delicious hot dogs around. Their special all-beef skinless dogs come in several signature varieties, like the Sooo Cali, topped with wild arugula, spicy basil aioli, crispy onions, avocado, and tomato. Feeling adventurous? You can customize your own dog with a selection of 40+ toppings. Veggie dogs are available, too, as are their tasty burgers and sausages.

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6. Slater's 50/50 8082 Adams Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

50/50 is a great burger joint doling out a burger of the month -- often cardiac arreset-inducing and SUPER delicious. In addition to their delicious burger selection, we are huge fans of their wide selection of beers on tap. This is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and watch the game.

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7. Flintridge Proper 464 Foothill Blvd, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011 (Pasadena)

Flintridge Proper places a heavy emphasis on convivial spirit, human warmth and attention to detail which is immediately apparent upon entering the restaurant. Whether you're stopping in for a quick drink or a proper sit down dinner you're time spent will be inviting and relaxing.

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8. Seoul Sausage Company 11313 Mississippi Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90025 (West La)

If there's one thing Seoul is known for, it's living in constant fear their neighbors to the North are going to bomb the s**t out of them. If there's another, it's sausages -- or at least, that's what Seoul Sausage Company'd lead you to believe. The company is a labor of love to the founders, brothers Yong and Ted Kim, who bring a spin on Korean BBQ that won them the title of Food Network's 3rd The Great Food Truck Race.

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9. Blue Dog Beer Tavern 4524 Saugus Ave, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 (Mid Valley)

Located just off the 405 in what used to be a dental office (which now looks like a mid-construction Victorian home thanks to wood lattices, antique light fixtures and decor, and a bar and walls made from the original 1940s floors), the Blue Dog Beer Tavern's got a vibe that's part local dive, part sports bar, part vintage flea market. Craft beer is thing place's specialty, and at any given moment they're sure to have more than 60 drafts from LA breweries that'll wash down a house-ground burger with ease. The spacious and surprisingly modern back patio offers some breathing space when the tables inside get cramped at rush hour.

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10. 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.

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11. The Escondite 410 Boyd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Downtown)

A dark-lit, off the beaten path, neighborhood dive bar with daily live music and an amazing burger menu.

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