While New Yorkers are trying to figure out if burgers are worth ordering at restaurants, Angelenos know that LA has the best burger culture in America. And now that claim is being bolstered with the addition of HiHo Cheeseburger, a fast-casual burger joint that opens today in the heart of Santa Monica. The former Ojai restaurant has moved over to this 50-seat slot along 2nd Street, with mostly the same approach, but with a few minor tweaks.
First the burger: it’s a well-seared double-patty, double-cheese affair using only pure chuck Wagyu beef from a single New Zealand farm, and it’s only $9.75 with thick-cut french fries included. Those prices are competitive with McDonald’s these days. The buns resemble In-N-Out’s plush white bread hamburger bun — no brioche or pretzel bun here. There’s also vegetarian patties (though, why?), thick Straus Creamery milkshakes, and pretty solid key lime and banana cream pies for dessert.
The essence of the Ojai HiHo is still here, though with some input and adjustment from the Sugarfish team, which helped bring the brand over to Santa Monica. The main HiHo burger comes with a smattering of lettuce, pickles, onion jam, and a squeeze a ketchup, which not everyone will like.
The patties get mustard-grilled for an extra hit of acid, but otherwise, the juicy Wagyu beef eschews the thousand island-style sauces that are typical of SoCal burgers. HiHo also serves a “classic” burger with just double patties and cheese with a squirt of ketchup, plus a single patty cheeseburger for anyone that likes the ultimate simplicity.
The modern digs come from Marmol Radziner, which leans on smooth wood surfaces, a geometric ceiling, and photos of pastures where the cattle were raised. It’s a burger to feel good about eating. HiHo will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
1320 2nd St. Santa Monica, CA