Don't ask us why or how this came to be, but just off of two specific exits on the 15 between LA and Las Vegas (Main St and Bear Valley Rd), there exists an incredible cluster of uncommon burger joints that probably don’t share the same ZIP code anywhere else on the planet, allowing you to hit the mother lode of fast-food burgers all at once.
From Steak 'n Shake to Baker's Drive-Thru, here's a look at all the fast-food patty pushers at your new favorite place to stop on the way to The Venetian.
Freeway exit: Bear Valley Rd Address: 14321 Bear Valley Rd Archibald’s -- which you'd have to visit in Lake Elsinore if you weren't going to Vegas -- looks like just another counter-order burger chain, but they have a massive -- and somewhat random -- menu, from Greek (gyros, "Mediterranean" turkey burgers), to Tex-Mex (tacos, fajitas), to patty melts (ask your Granddad). Also, beer. Which you’ll need to wash down their bargain "Woofer burgers".
Freeway exit: Main St Address: 12798 Main St A SoCal original that's impossible to find in LA proper, Baker’s proclaims itself "America’s first twin kitchen", because of its radical 1952 decision to serve both American burgers and Mexican tacos. Whoa. Of course, the best way to celebrate their forward-thinking legacy would be to order their taco burger, which is exactly what would happen if Five Guys and Del Taco could somehow have a night of shameless fornication. Load it with habanero ketchup for best results.
Freeway exit: Main St Address: 12727 Main St Trading on the "farm-to-table" trend (yes, they actually use that term in their ads), Farmer Boys (which you can find in abundance in the part of California you've probably never spent any real time in) actually claims to serve antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed steer beef -- sandwiched with a stupendous amount of bacon, of course. The breakfast menu includes country-fried chicken with gravy to fuel your day out in the field.
Freeway exit: Bear Valley Rd Address: 12032 Amargosa Rd Griddle-smashed burgers, legit Chicago dogs with all the fixin's (sport peppers! Pine-green relish!), extra-thin shoestring fries, and "concrete"-thick custard sundaes and shakes -- that could probably be considered deadly weapons to the lactose intolerant -- are all on the menu, along with beefy steakburgers. The chain's prevalent in Colorado, Arizona, and, uh, Bakersfield.
Freeway exit: Bear Valley Rd Address: 12160 Mariposa Rd The classiest member of the club, SNS (which actually also just opened a location in Santa Monica) has table service and breakfast delights like the Steakburger Slinger Skillet (two burgers and chili on top of your eggs and hash browns), as well as footlong Chicago dogs, nine flavors of sliders (they call them "Shooters", cowboy), and two-flavor "Side by Side" milkshakes (like Banocolate and Strawnilla -- seriously). No secrets here -- it’s all on the actual menu.
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Eric Gladstone is a freelancer who wants to remind you that these two exits also have In-N-Out and Five Guys, in case you feel like being basic. You can find him on Twitter at @ecgladstone.