Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Burgers in Los Angeles

Over the past week in the Golden State, I sampled several beef products.

At the In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda Westway by the airport: This legendary "joint" only operates on the near West Coast and never serves food that was frozen. I got a cheeseburger "animal style" and a chocolate shake. BEST BURGER HANDS DOWN. The meat was juicy, the bun was not soggy, the cheese was not overpowering, and the sauce and onions (the "animal style" additions that are not on the main menu) really set this meal over the top. There was also fresh lettuce and tomato. It came in a little paper package and was very tidy. The shake was good, but not as good as I had remembered, and incredibly difficult to drink through a straw. It produced real Puckery Fish Face. I thought I'd be getting vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, but it appeared to just be chocolate ice cream. The intense thickness meant that we had to wait for it to melt before we could really drink it, and by that time it was kind of like tepid soup. We also shared fries, which were crispy and hot (and delicious when dipped in the milkshake!). Overall: 9.5

At the Getty Villa Center in Malibu: Laura and Mom ordered the Turkey Burger (ok, this one's not beef). This item was cooked rare and came with sauce (similar to In-N-Out's sauce, which is kind of like ketchup and mayo mixed together), lettuce & tomato, and some superb fries that were covered in parsely and garlic. Really garlicky, yum. The rareness of the turkey burger itself was a tad off-putting--it was bright pink in the middle and not very hot--but the soft ciabatta bun and the saucy goodness accompanying it were tasty. Plus, those fries! Overall: 9

At the Fatburger on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica: Normally I would not be caught dead in a place with a name like "Fatburger," but Dad told Laura it was really good. (He also recommended Carl's Jr. but we did not go there.) I got a Small Baby Fat burger, which weighs in at 2.5 ounces. (They get as big as XXXL Triple King, which is almost ten times as large: 24 ounces. You get your photo on the wall and a t-shirt if you finish it.) Like In-N-Out burger, the Baby Fat comes in a paper package. This endears me to the burger. It came with the standard accoutrements of mayo, mustard, relish, lettuce, and tomato. The relish was too sweet. The fries were absolutely cold. The burger itself was rare, which is nice. They did not have cherry coke on tap. Overall: 6.5

At Billingsley's on Pico by the 405: This old steakhouse (est. 1946) has been a Dechter/Schaffer family favorite for years. They have daily specials (Monday is prime rib and Tuesday is BBQ ribs) that come with soup or salad, potato, and dish of ice cream. On the walls are old or fake-old bizarre signs, with sayings like "This is a good place; act respectable" or "Hookers and drunks enter through the back. Front door's broken" or other mock-classy warnings. One must get the green goddess dressing with the salad. It was herby mayonnaisey and a little sour and absolutely delicious. (Here's a recipe from Molly Wizenberg, of Leah's beloved Orangette blog, from Bon Appetit.) I ordered my prime rib rare, and it was evenly pink and hardly fatty at all and sweet. Went down like butter. It could have been hotter, though. Laura's BBQ ribs were absolutely falling off the bone and came drenched in cloying BBQ sauce. All of it was yummy. And the spumoni ice cream at the end was quaint. Overall: 8

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