I honestly don't know why you're asking me if I've tried Moe's across the street from Bob's in Toluca Lake. OF COURSE. They make a living off the spillover from a true American original
Best Eight Burgers in L.A.
Sorry about the username they won't let me change it. Anyway, I have reviewed ALL the burgers in this post (I think users have it covered) and will give my eight best.
As a caution, I love burgers well done from fresh VERY red ground beef only, with no large non-meaty parts of things in the patty (even big globs of fat, bone, or cartilege). On a flat grill. The rest is just details, important and somewhat intangible details.
I won't list prices because they aren't a concern. No burger worth its salt is over $9
1. Bob's Big Boy - the Original double decker. Yes, I've heard it compared to a Big mac. Center bun and all. Well guess what? The Big Boy came first! The place to go is in Toluca Lake. The patties are thin, so you might order the "Super Big Boy". What makes it is the sauce, it's a sort of mayonnaise on the bottom and a sort of relish on top. The center bun is buttered and grilled. Ask for cherry peppers on the side.
2. Big Jo's Santa Monica. Yep, I'm a fan too. I've loved this place since I first went to UCLA and had to drive outside westwood for something decent (i.e. besides Fatburger lol). I found Big Jo's. The burger I think is charbroiled, only one on my list. What saves it I think are the spices, and the quality, and it's charbroiled somehow perfectly. Juicy. Kinda thick. Crisp, especially if you add bacon (why?). Perfect classic toppings, fresh lettuce. Tangy sweet sauce. Crinkles.
3. Tip Top Burger, Arleta. This place is tiny. Same deal as #2, thinner patty, grilled, crinkles. Lettuce here is shredded thinly and perfectly, fresh. A slightly smoky 1000 sauce. Go double.
4. Dandy Fast Food, Chatsworth. This place is tiniest. There's no room inside to eat. The junior burger uses a thin patty, get two. Patties cook perfectly on the flat grill, and you can smell the spices. Combo with ample crunchy homemade fries and drink. Again, perfectly spiced. Fresh. There's only one.
5. ArcLight Theater Cafe/Bar, Sherman Oaks Galleria. If your idea of perfect ambience is a dark movie theater with plush seats, this burger is for you. Half pound fresh with bib lettuce, beefsteak tomato, maui onion, catsup, and kosher dill. With fries you'll completely devour. Try the blackberry sorbet with whipped cream for dessert.
6. Duke's Malibu. Primarily a sustainable seafood restaurant on the beach side of P.C.H., the patio bar serves the best hamburger. Fresh Choice Angus (which I absolutely don't require) with mango bbq and crisp waffle fries (ask for banana catsup). Bam! Leave a tip cheapskate, and tip the valet parking guys too. Crab wontons are amazing.
7. Basket Burger on Atlantic, E. L.A. Fast and friendly sit-down service. Thick third pound fresh beef burger with french fries and a drink. Again, spiced just right. Crispy, juicy, watch it grill. Served on a Chinese plate.
8. Bill's Hamburgers, Van Nuys. A small stand you can sit around the grill with a patio area in back. Friendly. Not to be confused with the nearby "Billy's Grill", Bill's is a Van Nuys treat. Get a triple. You will down it with a bag of chips and a canned soda. The spices are heaven, it's fresh ground beef from Farmer's Market or something (I've asked). The juiciest, watch from peppery drippage as you're biting into the three patties on a tiny sponge bun. The lettuce gets immersed in the juices. No fries or 1000 here, just a terrific lunchtime hamburger.
BBB Northridge Sunday, Oct. 25. Major improvement. :) Big Boy double decker fresh-tasting, bread and lettuce fresh (try it "Michigan style" with a mayo and red relish mix on). Definitely ENJOYED the burger as much as any: the 1000 island makes it "Michigan". $5
For me the Northridge location is convenient, so I'm glad to taste the food improving here!
BBB Northridge Friday, Oct. 16. Busy as hell. Can confirm that the bread is dry and hard and stale. She splashed melting hot fudge cake on my hand en route to the take-home container. Meat patties cold on arrival. Fries/rings gross!! They can't handle the volume, let alone remember your fountain order en route to the fountain. Tailgating crowd RUDE.
Rise and Fall of a Great Onion Ring Nation
1981. This is about the time I had my first onion rings at the Bob's Big Boy on Van Nuys and Clark (now a car dealership). Large but light, golden brown and crumbly. A big plate of them, the grease always pooled at the bottom (I mean always). And that was a perfect base for however much catsup I needed.
1986. Scottsdale, Arizona. Don't remember the name but there's a resort out there where if you get room service, a big basket comes with the thick ketchup only found in the 1 oz jars at hotels. Better than Bob's though plump and "beer-battered".
1990. Bob's closes. Others remain open with the same onion rings in eastern California, albeit not to my knowledge. At the same time Fatburger opens in Sherman Oaks. The onion rings at the time are essentially perfect and remain so until 9-11. Just like Bob's.
1991. Ship's instantly becomes a classic in my mind with their burgers, onion rings, and hot fudge sundaes --- a perfect late night choice straight out of a Jeff Goldblum movie. It then closes.
1992. I discover Norm's. These onion rings are vaguely satisfying but not perfect. I learn a decade later why: they fry EVERYTHING in trans fat and boast about it. Augh!
1994. I discover Panos. A bit sweet, not sturdy like those at Big Boy or plump like those in Scottsdale. On Victory and Woodley, a hybrid of Tony Roma's loaf and Bob's. Change to frozen onion rings in 2007.
You can try the homemade onion rings at Bob's in Northridge or Burbank, or Fatburger and you'll find the same item, same ingredients. No one knows how to make them. As one fatburger employee told me, "Everyone makes them different." A waiter at the Northridge Bob's repeated the mantra.
Dupar's still has excellent onion rings, and Jerry's deli.
I have hope for some of the classic places I haven't tried, like Twohey's, which I plan to try. However, most places, whether too greasy, too bready, too salty, or too processed, it really comes down to who makes them. Have you ever tried? It's incredibly difficult. Farmer Boys has onion rings that are too oniony. It's the price of appetizer diversity.
I have learned the universe doesn't want me to enjoy a big plate of onion rings. The calories from the hamburger and the hot fudge sundae are enough for the entire day, and the onion ring takes its rightful place as a garnish on the hamburger (Lamplighter).