Food & Drink

The Top Burgers in LA, According to Angelenos We Love

Published On 11/11/2015 Published On 11/11/2015
Jeff Miller/Thrillist

You've heard us talk about burgers so much you're probably sick of it (but not really). But because we can never really stop, we decided to ask a bunch of also-burger-obsessed Angelenos -- ranging from one of the best burger-makers in the city, to a famous comedienne, to the frontman of the band behind the biggest hit of the summer -- where they go to get their fix. Of the 27 recommendations, we pared the list down to 14, factoring in multiple shoutouts, variety, and deliciousness. Loosen your belt now.    


Republique

Mid-Wilshire

The fancy Mid-City spot shines brightest at lunch -- which makes sense, since it's the only time you can get its superlative burger.

Burger aficionados say:

"Dry-aged steak trimmings, with a real char -- crispy on the outside, juicy and a ton of flavor on the inside, topped perfectly. It's an idealized version of a Big Mac." -- Phil Rosenthal, producer, Everybody Loves Raymond, and TV host, I'll Have What Phil's Having

"The patty is excellent, made with grass-fed beef, with American cheese (because there's nothing else that melts like it), and a fantastic heirloom tomato and iceberg lettuce -- Chef Walter Manzke clearly didn't want to mess with what works, but to try to make it better. He has succeeded. Don't forget the fries; they're insanely good." -- Lesley Balla, editor, Zagat LA

Flickr/Larry

Father's Office

Culver City/Santa Monica

Perhaps LA's most iconic burger, it remains a favorite after many, many, many years.

Burger aficionados say:

"Maybe not the most unique choice, but it’s a really unique burger, you have to give it to them for that! And then I heard the inspiration behind this burger was French onion soup which makes sense with the caramelized onions and Gruyere." -- A/J Jackson, frontman, Saint Motel

"It comes out just the way it is. As if we had a choice. And it’s much better than In-N-Out." -- Andrew Wintner, creative director, Musicstyling

"The first fancy burger I ever had. Incredible flavor combination and thoughtfulness." -- Jason Bernstein, owner, Golden State

Russell's

Pasadena

Despite not getting the big-city buzz of some of its neighbors, this burger is worth any trip to the City of Roses. 

Burger aficionados say:

"Their famous cheeseburger is as classic as its establishment. I've been going to Russell's since high school and I'm pretty sure In-N-Out stole the special sauce recipe." -- Noelle Scaggs, singer, Fitz and the Tantrums

Lesley Balla/Thrillist

Pie 'n Burger

Pasadena

It's deceptively simple -- and a stone-cold classic. And yes, we do think it is one of the best burgers in the country.

Burger aficionados say:

"The burger that is admittedly and unabashedly our inspiration for our Button Mash burger is this no-frills double cheeseburger -- loosely packed patty, salted and peppered and cooked on a griddle, with a butter-grilled classic bun. All sorts of simple deliciousness without hiding behind any crazy sauces, and that's all!" -- Nguyen Tran, owner, Starry Kitchen (now serving at Button Mash)

"The flavors are perfect -- the Thousand Island-like dressing, a mound of crisp iceberg lettuce, cheese, onion, tomato, and a soft spongey bun. It's the best lead-in to pie ever." -- Lesley Balla, editor, Zagat LA

"Forget about Apple Pan. If I want an old-school diner burger, this where I'm going." -- Zach Brooks, host, Food is the New Rock

Congregation Ale House

Long Beach

This trio of gastropubs (in Azusa, Pasadena, and Long Beach) have fantastic beer lists to pair with the fantastic burgers. 

"I guess it says something that I never got sick of their ribeye white cheddar burger, even when I was eating four of them a week while working at the Long Beach location in college. But years later, I'm still eating them because at only $8, it remains the only gourmet burger of its size with a price and taste to match -- try it with blue cheese and wash it down with a cold beer. It's even good to-go!" -- Sarah Bennett, food editor, LA Weekly

Wikimedia

Apple Pan

West LA

This burger place is unchanged since, like, forever, which is why it's one of my grandma's favorite restaurants in LA.

Burger aficionados say:

"This is what nostalgia tastes like. So much is entrenched with the fond memories I have of growing up in Los Angeles and the great times I had with my dad." -- Jason Bernstein, owner, Golden State

"Their steakburger is still my favorite burger probably as much for the horseshoe-shaped bar and old-timey atmosphere as for the actual, reliably classic burger. Johnny Rockets had great reason to fashion their business model after Apple Pan. Iceberg lettuce may be uncool right now, but I still love it for the crunch it gives."-- Esther Tseng, blogger, e*starLA

Slater's 50/50

Pasadena

This San Diego-based mini-chain's best known for its unique blend, described below.

Burger aficionados say:

"The patty is half ground beef and half ground bacon. Do I even need to keep talking?" -- Iliza Shlesinger, comedienne

Plan Check

Plan Check

Downtown

The gastropub mini-chain's become so critically acclaimed, Pulitzer winner Jonathan Gold thinks it's one of the 101 best restaurants in LA.

Burger aficionados say:

"I'll admit, I'm happily a sell-out to the truffle oil-on-everything craze... and I want to bathe in the oils of their truffle burger it's so good... is that too much information??" -- Nguyen Tran, owner, Starry Kitchen (now serving at Button Mash)

"The K-BBQ burger at Plan Check is not just the best burger on a menu of very good burgers. It just so happens to be a cultural touchstone that encapsulates place and time. Eating a bite is like chomping down on Los Angeles in the mid-2010s, where Korean food has gone mainstream and DTLA is perpetually the place that everyone wants to go for dinner." -- Jason Kessler, editor, FlyAndDine.com, and founder, Little Spoon Frozen Pudding

Hawkins House of Burgers

Watts

You know that hole-in-the-wall dive you'd never walked into unless someone told you it was great, and then you walked in, and it was great, and you felt bad that you were thinking you'd never walk in there in the first place? Yeah. That's Hawkins.

Burger aficionados say:

"Hawkins in Watts is an LA original and for good reason -- their namesake dish is everything you want out of a classic, old-school, no-fuss burger. The right bun, the right orange cheese, the right tomato, onions, sauce, and patty all have helped Hawkins reign supreme as the best simple (and CHEAP) burger around. Nothing fancy, but everything right. " -- Sarah Bennett, food editor, LA Weekly

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Belcampo

Mid-Wilshire

This mini-chain has made a name for itself with its meat quality: it raises its own grass-fed cows on its own sustainable farm. And happy cows seem to make damn delicious burgers. 

"The Belcampo Fastburger is the perfect exercise in using quality ingredients to update the classic burger with a price tag that comes through for you. I'm more of a classic burger kind of gal, so I love this burger as much for what's not on there as for what is. Organic, grass-fed beef (whether you want one patty for $5 or two for $8), a little bit of house sauce, and slivers of American cheese, tomato, butter lettuce, and onion are always compiled on a soft, grilled bun in perfect ratios, meaning it keeps its integrity and remains intact with every delicious bite you take. " -- Esther Tseng, blogger, e*starLA

"The Carnivore burger's only available at their 3rd St location, it's got the heart of a champion, and by that I mean there's literally heart meat in it." -- Zach Brooks, host, Food is the New Rock

Mama Shelter

Hollywood

The new Hollywood Hotel's got an anything-goes vibe, and a casual restaurant downstairs that has all sorts of great food.

"A perfectly cooked medium-rare burger with sugar in the bun and real cheddar cheese. Fuck the frills." -- Noelle Scaggs, singer, Fitz and the Tantrums

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Animal

Mid-Wilshire

Not only has Animal become one of the perennial best-restaurants-in-LA, but its absurd off-the-menu Boner burger has become a burger-eater staple, thanks to a blend of meat that includes short rib and bone marrow.

"Its really great. And it has boner in the title. And it’s much better than In-N-Out." -- Andrew Wintner, creative director, Musicstyling

Zach Brooks

Petit Trois

Hollywood

Ludo Lefebvre's French restaurant was known initially for its amazing omelette... until people started trying the equally amazing Big Mec burger.

"The Petit Trois Big Mec is a huge undertaking, but I love it for its novelty as much as I do for its taste -- even if you do have to resign to eating it with a fork at the end. The steak in the patty, smothered with Ludo's bordelaise sauce and carmelized onions, tastes just that good. It's for when I want to occasionally break out of my classic burger fix." -- Esther Tseng, blogger, e*starLA

"It's so messy and delicious, and for such an American staple, it just seems so perfectly Ludo. There's caramelized onions, American cheese, and a rich bordelaise sauce that may have a little foie gras in it. Everything just oozes onto the plate. It's so decadent." -- Lesley Balla, editor, Zagat LA

Umami Burger

Umami Burger

Los Feliz

It's gone from upstart to iconic in the last five years or so -- and yet the burger is still a major favorite.

"If 'umami' means pleasant savory taste, then this place nails it on the head every time. Every burger I’ve had there is a perfect balance of flavors. And their wine or beer pairings are on point." -- A/J Jackson, frontman, Saint Motel

"There is something cool about the simplicity in their menu and how they don't allow annoying changes. That's refreshing for LA." -- Iliza Shlesinger, comedienne

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Jeff Miller will always be a die-hard In-N-Out fan when it comes down to it, but'll admit that every one of these burgers is amazing. See a ton of them on his Instagram or argue with him on Twitter.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Republique 624 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Hancock Park)

Republique hails from a crazy all-star team that includes the married chef duo Walter and Margarita Manzke -- who were among the most lauded in all of LA during their tenure at Downtown's Church and State -- and one of the restauranteurs behind Bestia and Sotto. Their 'tails and fare are definitely worth a weeks-in-advance res.

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2. 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.

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3. Russell's 30 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

Although Russell's is known for its classic cheeseburger, this City of Roses diner also offers Italian and French cuisine. If burgers aren't your thing, try the croque madame.

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4. Pie 'n Burger 913 E California Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106 (Pasadena)

This Pasadena institution has been there since 1963 and has weathered every burger trend you can imagine, with a no-frills approach (seriously, your burg options are hamburger, cheeseburger, turkey burger, and that's it) that hits home in the classic, Thousand Island-topped sense every time.

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5. Congregation Ale House 201 E Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90802 (Long Beach)

The Congregational Ale House is a monastic-themed bars turned brewery with outposts in Long Beach, Azusa and Pasadena. CAH sought to bring a community and the spirit of Old World beers to LA. The chapters serve weekly drink and meal specials, including Serves food and weekly specials, including a la carte and combo options. With a diverse tap list, Congregation’s pourin’ for the masses.

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6. 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.

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7. 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.

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8. Plan Check 1111 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90017 (Downtown)

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.

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9. Hawkins House of Burgers 11603 Slater St, Watts, CA 90059

This family-owned burger institution in Watts serves up mile-high burgers, like the signature Hawkins Special that piles three beef patties, pastrami, hot links, chili, eggs, and bacon into a very messy sandwich. Even if you keep your order simple with a junior cheeseburger, one bite of the delightfully greasy burger will have you joining Hawkins' cult following.

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10. Belcampo Santa Monica 1026 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

The first standalone LA location of the well-liked Grand Central Market stand sources meat from its own NorCal farm, which means grass-raised steaks, goat tartare, and off-cuts available both as dishes and at an expansive butcher case.

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11. Mama Shelter 6500 Selma Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

Right in the heart of Hollywood, Mama Shelter is the Los Angeles outpost of a French-based hotel mini-chain. From the family behind Club Med, the hip hotel features 70 funkily-designed rooms equipped with iMacs and, movie scripts, and king beds. Open to the public, the rooftop doubles as a yoga studio and Mediterranean restaurant. Downstairs, there's a French-American restaurant, a separate cocktail bar, and a coffee shop.

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12. 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.

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13. Petit Trois 718 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038 (Hollywood)

This Hollywood bistro from Ludo Lefebvre and the Animal dudes has no phone number, no reservations, only 21 seats, and one of LA's most acclaimed chefs making French classics like steak frites and confit chicken, as well as lunch -- with only 20 servings of two sandwiches offered.

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14. Umami Burger 4655 Hollywood Blvd, Los Feliz, CA 90027 (Los Feliz)

The burgers at this LA-based chain are different than the typical American hamburger because they're built around umami, the savory fifth taste that defines most Japanese food. The menu features a range of burgers, but the eponymous one, stacked with umami-amping ingredients like parmesan crisps, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions and ketchup, is a must-try. All burgers are served on a shiny brown bun and taste best when paired with an order of the signature thin-cut fries. One of the first Umami Burger locations, the Los Feliz outpost is more than three times the size of the La Brea original. More upscale than other burger chains, Umami is a sit-down spot that serves local craft beers.

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