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Some of LA’s Best Burgers Are Heading to the San Fernando Valley

Plus, exploring Orange County’s Koreatown, an Instagrammable moment in Downtown, and more

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A cheeseburger topped with pickles, sauce, and caramelized onions from Heavy Handed in Santa Monica, California.
A cheeseburger from Heavy Handed in Santa Monica.
Wonho Frank Lee
Cathy Chaplin is a senior editor at Eater LA, a James Beard Award–nominated journalist, and the author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles.

Heavy Handed, the popular burger window tucked into Santa Monica’s Main Street, is opening a second location next spring in Studio City. Located on Ventura Boulevard in a 2,500-square-foot space, the second outlet will serve the signature smash burgers — short-rib patties topped with American cheese, caramelized onions, bread and butter pickles, and signature “heavy” sauce, all on a potato bun — that made Heavy Handed a formidable contender in LA’s vast burger scene.

“It’s a much bigger space. We’ll have a larger beer program, expand our wine program, but essentially have the same menu of burgers, ice cream — the same stuff that we’re doing in Santa Monica, just on a new side of town,” co-owner Danny Gordon tells Eater. The all-new indoor seating will create a livelier scene in the Valley, Gordon says.

Owned and operated by Gordon and his childhood best friend, Max Miller, Heavy Handed debuted in April 2020 as a pop-up on Gordon’s Mar Vista driveway and rolled out a food truck a year later. The first brick-and-mortar restaurant opened in October 2022 blocks away from the Pacific Ocean.

Three Kings Day is coming

In celebration of Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day), La Monarca Bakery is baking Rosca de Reyes cakes available at all 12 LA locations; pre-orders are available in medium ($24) and large sizes ($40). Made with pan dulce dough, candied cactus, and walnuts, the circular cakes symbolize the jeweled crowns worn by the Three Wise Men. (A baby figurine comes on the side for folks to hide as they see fit.)

 Rosca de Reyes at La Monarca Bakery.
Rosca de Reyes at La Monarca Bakery.
La Monarca Bakery.

A better Koreatown?

Journalist Jacklyn Kim explores the Korean restaurant scene in Buena Park for LAist. Kim recommends the tofu skin pockets at ATOYUBU, the homey cooking at Minduelle, the fried chicken at Pelicana, and more.

An edible IG moment

For those in search of the sweetest holiday photo opp in town, head to the hotel lobby at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live, where pastry chef Francois Behuet has created a tremendous angel wing display using 300-plus pounds of white chocolate; the delicate feathers are totally edible. Behuet has also made a line of holiday goodies available for purchase on site.

Holiday display at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live.
Holiday display at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live.
JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live

Last call for Lao, for now

Yum Sະlut, the supremely delicious “authentic Lao refugee cuisine” pop-up in Chinatown from Tharathip Soulisak, is serving its final papaya salad and snappy sausages soon. Swing in for a taste before Soulisak departs from Lokels Only on December 30. Here’s hoping he lands a proper brick-and-mortar location in 2024.

Heavy Handed

2912 Main Street, , CA 90405 Visit Website