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A seeded bun and burger with melty cheese and lots of shredded lettuce.
Hinano Cafe.
Wonho Frank Lee

18 Essential Los Angeles Burgers, Spring 2022

From cheffy takes to shredded lettuce and big patties by the beach, where to chow down on LA’s best burgers

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Hinano Cafe.
| Wonho Frank Lee

Hamburgers are truly America’s food. Born from the nation’s obsession with beef coupled with the modern highway system, the humble burger can be high-end or low — grabbed quickly via drive-thru, or sought out as a destination. It’s hard to say what makes a perfect burger, simply because there are so many different iterations of the seemingly simple beef and bun device.

Los Angeles is at the center of American’s burger obsession. The few-frills food is done up in countless ways from the beachy towns of the South Bay to the heart of LA’s chef-driven culinary movement. Everyone loves to eat a burger, and in all sorts of styles, formats, and price point ranges — no wonder they appear on so many restaurant menus across the city. From the old-school burger counters to the walk-up windows, street stands, and sit-down spots that come complete cloth napkins, here are some of Los Angeles’s most essential burgers, sorted geographically.

Added: For the Win Whittier, Proudly Serving, Burgers Never Say Die, Hinano Cafe,

Removed: Daglas Drive-In, For the Win Hollywood, Yuca’s Pasadena, Ercoles

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Bill's Burgers

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This Van Nuys staple continues to impress with its roadside flair and lovable crank-of-an-owner, Bill Elwell, though recently a For Sale sign has been spotted on the historic stand. Until the place is no more, expect Elwell to turn out freshly griddled burgers himself.

Bill’s Burgers owner Bill Elwell, a 90-year-old, holds a cheeseburger as he leans into the shot.
Bill Elwell of Bill’s Burgers
Food GPS

Petit Trois le Valley

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Should a burger ever be eaten with a knife and fork? If anyone is going to challenge the notion of dining simplicity it’s chef Ludo Lefevbre, whose Valley outpost of popular French bistro Petit Trois is as charming as it is unassuming. Yes, there are tablecloths and servers seem a bit more starched and pressed than elsewhere; yes, one may ask for silverware when downing the deliciously drowned and sauced Big Mec burger; but no, that does not mean that anything is lost in translation. This burger speaks to LA as an enduring town for burger innovation, where anything (and any flavor) is possible.

Petit Trois’ messy burger with bordelaise sauce and lots of cheese shown on a white plate in the restaurant.
The Big Mec.
Matthew Kang

Pie 'n Burger

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Pasadena claims to be the birthplace of the cheeseburger, and while the truth of such things are lost to history, there is no denying the enduring prominence of Pie ‘n Burger. A legend since 1963, this diner turned ode to all things burger continues to turn out impeccable California classics, complete with special sauce and lightly melted American cheese.

A paper-wrapped cheeseburger with a side of fries.
Pie ‘n Burger
Farley Elliott

Goldburger

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Goldburger in Highland Park is a little bit of a lot of different things: The patties are smashed but not paper-thin, the branding is sunny and hip without being Instagram-overwhelming. What the place does have going for it is a simple technique, executed day in and day out, making for one of LA’s most popular burgers right now. Can’t make it to Highland Park? Try the Los Feliz location instead.

Burgerlords

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Whereas some places that do non-meat burgers rely on manufactured corporate products like Beyond and Impossible faux meats, Burgerlords makes its patties (and its vegan chicken nuggets and shakes and everything else) completely in-house. You won’t find a meatless burger like this anywhere else in Southern California, that’s for sure.

Burgers Never Say Die

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Any smashburger conversation in Los Angeles has to start with Burgers Never Say Die, the onetime backyard sensation that has become a Silver Lake stalwart. This is the place for extreme sear, crispy, lacy edges, and the kind of fast, easy eating that makes it possible to put away two or three burgers in a single sitting.

Electric Owl

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If there’s one thing chef Ernesto Uchimura knows, it’s burgers. The opening chef and partner of Umami Burger (and later found of Plan Check) has been perfecting LA burgers for almost a generation now. And while his Hollywood spot Electric Owl is less heralded than those other spots, the neighborhood restaurant still turns out some of the best, most flavorful burgers anywhere.

Grill 'em All

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Grill ‘Em All’s timeless burgers recreate a very real chapter in LA’s dining history, when modern food trucks were first roaming the streets selling over-clocked flavor bombs to excited diners. The shop’s Alhambra space still carries on the legacy of big, messy, filling, and delicious burgers like the Molly Hatchet, a staple (available Mondays only, now) that comes with fennel sausage gravy, maple syrup, and bacon.

Monty's Good Burger

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Though lots of new meatless burger shops have opened around Los Angeles in the past few years, few still draw the kind of attention that Monty’s does. Now with multiple locations across the city, this is still the place that folks flock to for the branding, the meat-free burgers, and the shakes.

Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers

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It’s hard to overstate the importance of Tommy’s to the greater LA burger scene. The restaurant’s branding alone has spawned dozens (if not more) replicators with tonally-similar names, while the heavy use of spiced chili — served atop burgers, fries, dogs, and more — is as ever-present as tap water on hundreds of restaurant menus around Southern California. This is the place that helped to start it all.

Amboy Quality Meats

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In the land of smash burger ubiquity, it’s nice to see native son Alvin Cailan return to LA with a thick pub-style burger at Amboy Quality Meats and Delicious Burgers, tucked inside the former Chinatown home of Chego.

DH burger at Amboy Quality Meats and Delicious Burgers in Chinatown.
Amboy
Farley Elliott

The Apple Pan

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There is nothing in LA so iconic as a burger from Apple Pan, even if diners can’t sit inside at the moment. The thick patties and smoky hickory sauce make for an altogether unique experience, only possible on Pico.

Burger from Apple Pan
Burger from Apple Pan
Matthew Kang

Everson Royce Bar

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Simplicity reigns at ERB, the do-it-all bar, restaurant, and hangout space in the Arts District. The place is known for its laid-back atmosphere and killer burger, daintily adorned with only cheese and spread; save the heaps of lettuce and tomato for those other spots.

Everson Royce Bar’s burger, a thick single patty on a low, wide bun, held on a plate in the air with two hands.
ERB’s burger.
Everson Royce Bar

Father's Office

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Who knew a burger could be so polarizing? Yet here is the Father’s Office burger, a no-ketchup-allowed option served on a split roll and topped with caramelized onions and lots of arugula. This massive sandwich uses dry-aged beef and Maytag blue cheese for a remarkably different kind of burger.

Father’s Office Burger
Burger from Father’s Office
Elizabeth Daniels

For The Win

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The burgers are For the Win are as bold as they are messy (and that’s saying a lot). This is the stop for salty, saucy, crusty smashed patty burgers, the kind of easy-LA eating that has helped to spawn a whole burger genre of late. Better still, For the Win is now available across three locations, including out in the Whittier suburbs.

Hinano Cafe

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The beach calls this spring and summer, and that means burgers at legendary Venice area dive Hinano Cafe, where the patties are griddled right behind the bar. Chips on the side, lots of shredded lettuce, and a beer make for a great burger-beach experience.

A vertical photo of a cheeseburger with two kinds of cheese on a seeded bun.
Hinano Cafe
Wonho Frank Lee

Hawkins House of Burgers

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Watts’s most beloved meal is at Hawkins, where the loosely-formed beef patties arrive thick and impressive from their time on the griddle. Service is perilously slow, but in the end that just builds the hunger — which is exactly what’s needed when tackling these behemoths.

Proudly Serving

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This pandemic-era pop-up has gone legit inside a restaurant and bar space along the Redondo Beach waterfront. Now South Bay fans can regularly find one of LA’s best smashburgers, while downing a few pints as well.

A hand in a black glove holds out a messy cheeseburger.
The burger from Proudly Serving.
Proudly Serving

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Bill's Burgers

Bill’s Burgers owner Bill Elwell, a 90-year-old, holds a cheeseburger as he leans into the shot.
Bill Elwell of Bill’s Burgers
Food GPS

This Van Nuys staple continues to impress with its roadside flair and lovable crank-of-an-owner, Bill Elwell, though recently a For Sale sign has been spotted on the historic stand. Until the place is no more, expect Elwell to turn out freshly griddled burgers himself.

Bill’s Burgers owner Bill Elwell, a 90-year-old, holds a cheeseburger as he leans into the shot.
Bill Elwell of Bill’s Burgers
Food GPS

Petit Trois le Valley

Petit Trois’ messy burger with bordelaise sauce and lots of cheese shown on a white plate in the restaurant.
The Big Mec.
Matthew Kang

Should a burger ever be eaten with a knife and fork? If anyone is going to challenge the notion of dining simplicity it’s chef Ludo Lefevbre, whose Valley outpost of popular French bistro Petit Trois is as charming as it is unassuming. Yes, there are tablecloths and servers seem a bit more starched and pressed than elsewhere; yes, one may ask for silverware when downing the deliciously drowned and sauced Big Mec burger; but no, that does not mean that anything is lost in translation. This burger speaks to LA as an enduring town for burger innovation, where anything (and any flavor) is possible.

Petit Trois’ messy burger with bordelaise sauce and lots of cheese shown on a white plate in the restaurant.
The Big Mec.
Matthew Kang

Pie 'n Burger

A paper-wrapped cheeseburger with a side of fries.
Pie ‘n Burger
Farley Elliott

Pasadena claims to be the birthplace of the cheeseburger, and while the truth of such things are lost to history, there is no denying the enduring prominence of Pie ‘n Burger. A legend since 1963, this diner turned ode to all things burger continues to turn out impeccable California classics, complete with special sauce and lightly melted American cheese.

A paper-wrapped cheeseburger with a side of fries.
Pie ‘n Burger
Farley Elliott

Goldburger

Goldburger in Highland Park is a little bit of a lot of different things: The patties are smashed but not paper-thin, the branding is sunny and hip without being Instagram-overwhelming. What the place does have going for it is a simple technique, executed day in and day out, making for one of LA’s most popular burgers right now. Can’t make it to Highland Park? Try the Los Feliz location instead.

Burgerlords

Whereas some places that do non-meat burgers rely on manufactured corporate products like Beyond and Impossible faux meats, Burgerlords makes its patties (and its vegan chicken nuggets and shakes and everything else) completely in-house. You won’t find a meatless burger like this anywhere else in Southern California, that’s for sure.

Burgers Never Say Die

Any smashburger conversation in Los Angeles has to start with Burgers Never Say Die, the onetime backyard sensation that has become a Silver Lake stalwart. This is the place for extreme sear, crispy, lacy edges, and the kind of fast, easy eating that makes it possible to put away two or three burgers in a single sitting.

Electric Owl

If there’s one thing chef Ernesto Uchimura knows, it’s burgers. The opening chef and partner of Umami Burger (and later found of Plan Check) has been perfecting LA burgers for almost a generation now. And while his Hollywood spot Electric Owl is less heralded than those other spots, the neighborhood restaurant still turns out some of the best, most flavorful burgers anywhere.

Grill 'em All

Grill ‘Em All’s timeless burgers recreate a very real chapter in LA’s dining history, when modern food trucks were first roaming the streets selling over-clocked flavor bombs to excited diners. The shop’s Alhambra space still carries on the legacy of big, messy, filling, and delicious burgers like the Molly Hatchet, a staple (available Mondays only, now) that comes with fennel sausage gravy, maple syrup, and bacon.

Monty's Good Burger

Though lots of new meatless burger shops have opened around Los Angeles in the past few years, few still draw the kind of attention that Monty’s does. Now with multiple locations across the city, this is still the place that folks flock to for the branding, the meat-free burgers, and the shakes.

Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers

It’s hard to overstate the importance of Tommy’s to the greater LA burger scene. The restaurant’s branding alone has spawned dozens (if not more) replicators with tonally-similar names, while the heavy use of spiced chili — served atop burgers, fries, dogs, and more — is as ever-present as tap water on hundreds of restaurant menus around Southern California. This is the place that helped to start it all.

Amboy Quality Meats

DH burger at Amboy Quality Meats and Delicious Burgers in Chinatown.
Amboy
Farley Elliott

In the land of smash burger ubiquity, it’s nice to see native son Alvin Cailan return to LA with a thick pub-style burger at Amboy Quality Meats and Delicious Burgers, tucked inside the former Chinatown home of Chego.

DH burger at Amboy Quality Meats and Delicious Burgers in Chinatown.
Amboy
Farley Elliott

The Apple Pan

Burger from Apple Pan
Burger from Apple Pan
Matthew Kang

There is nothing in LA so iconic as a burger from Apple Pan, even if diners can’t sit inside at the moment. The thick patties and smoky hickory sauce make for an altogether unique experience, only possible on Pico.

Burger from Apple Pan
Burger from Apple Pan
Matthew Kang

Everson Royce Bar

Everson Royce Bar’s burger, a thick single patty on a low, wide bun, held on a plate in the air with two hands.
ERB’s burger.
Everson Royce Bar

Simplicity reigns at ERB, the do-it-all bar, restaurant, and hangout space in the Arts District. The place is known for its laid-back atmosphere and killer burger, daintily adorned with only cheese and spread; save the heaps of lettuce and tomato for those other spots.

Everson Royce Bar’s burger, a thick single patty on a low, wide bun, held on a plate in the air with two hands.
ERB’s burger.
Everson Royce Bar

Father's Office

Father’s Office Burger
Burger from Father’s Office
Elizabeth Daniels

Who knew a burger could be so polarizing? Yet here is the Father’s Office burger, a no-ketchup-allowed option served on a split roll and topped with caramelized onions and lots of arugula. This massive sandwich uses dry-aged beef and Maytag blue cheese for a remarkably different kind of burger.

Father’s Office Burger
Burger from Father’s Office
Elizabeth Daniels

For The Win

The burgers are For the Win are as bold as they are messy (and that’s saying a lot). This is the stop for salty, saucy, crusty smashed patty burgers, the kind of easy-LA eating that has helped to spawn a whole burger genre of late. Better still, For the Win is now available across three locations, including out in the Whittier suburbs.

Related Maps

Hinano Cafe

A vertical photo of a cheeseburger with two kinds of cheese on a seeded bun.
Hinano Cafe
Wonho Frank Lee

The beach calls this spring and summer, and that means burgers at legendary Venice area dive Hinano Cafe, where the patties are griddled right behind the bar. Chips on the side, lots of shredded lettuce, and a beer make for a great burger-beach experience.

A vertical photo of a cheeseburger with two kinds of cheese on a seeded bun.
Hinano Cafe
Wonho Frank Lee

Hawkins House of Burgers

Watts’s most beloved meal is at Hawkins, where the loosely-formed beef patties arrive thick and impressive from their time on the griddle. Service is perilously slow, but in the end that just builds the hunger — which is exactly what’s needed when tackling these behemoths.

Proudly Serving

A hand in a black glove holds out a messy cheeseburger.
The burger from Proudly Serving.
Proudly Serving

This pandemic-era pop-up has gone legit inside a restaurant and bar space along the Redondo Beach waterfront. Now South Bay fans can regularly find one of LA’s best smashburgers, while downing a few pints as well.

A hand in a black glove holds out a messy cheeseburger.
The burger from Proudly Serving.
Proudly Serving

Related Maps