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

18 Essential Los Angeles Burgers, Winter 2021

From old school renditions to fancy chef-driven takes, the best places to get hamburgers in Los Angeles

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The Big Mec from Petit Trois
| Matthew Kang

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.

LA 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 historic centers of the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, each offering a unique take and — at least in a few cases — some serious regional acclaim. 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 LA’s most essential burgers, sorted geographically.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.an patties in Highland Park, here are some of LA’s most essential burgers right now.

Removed: Corner Grille, Oinkster, Billionaire Burger Boyz, Burgers 99, Hinano Cafe, The Standing Room, Dave’s Burgers

Added: Tommy’s, Ercole’s, ERB, , Electric Owl, Petit Trois, Grill ‘Em All

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Daglas Drive-In

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20036 Vanowen St
Canoga Park, CA 91306
(818) 883-6313
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Daglas is an LA institution, particularly in the sprawling San Fernando Valley. The burger here typifies a kind of unique-to-LA version of dining, complete with commercial white buns, griddled patties, and lots of shredded lettuce and American cheese.

2. Bill's Burgers

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14742 Oxnard St
Van Nuys, CA 91411
(818) 785-4086

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

3. Petit Trois le Valley

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13705 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 989-2600
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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

4. Pie 'n Burger

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913 E California Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 795-1123
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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

5. Yuca's Pasadena

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1075 S Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 788-7448
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Of course the cochinita pibil is great at Yuca’s, but real ones know that the burger is itself a star. With freshly-cooked beef served on a well-seasoned griddle at either location, it’s hard to go wrong with this LA classic.

6. Goldburger

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5623 York Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90042

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 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.

7. Burgerlords

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110 N Ave 56
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Whereas some places that do non-meat burgers rely on manufactured corporate products like Beyond and Impossible faux meats, Burgerslords 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.

8. For the Win

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6221 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 871-2026

Smash burger fans love For the Win, the pandemic-era burger pop-up that has gone legit in Hollywood and now Whittier. From the heavy sear to the overloaded sauce and thick pickles, this is the burger for those riding the current LA beef and bun trends.

9. Electric Owl

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1451 N Gardner St
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 545-6565
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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 best, most flavorful burgers anywhere.

10. Grill 'em All

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19 E Main St
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 284-2874
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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.

11. Monty's Good Burger

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8432 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(213) 915-0257
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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.

12. Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers

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2575 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 389-9060
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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 as tap water on hundreds of restaurant menus around Southern California. This is the place that helped to start it all.

13. Amboy Quality Meats

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727 N Broadway No. 117
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 935-8188
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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

14. The Apple Pan

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10801 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 475-3585
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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

15. Everson Royce Bar

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1936 E 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 335-6166
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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, served daintily-adorned with 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

16. Father's Office

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3229 Helms Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 736-2224
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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

17. Hawkins House of Burgers

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11603 Slater St
Los Angeles, CA 90059
(323) 563-1129
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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.

18. Ercoles 1101

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1101 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 372-1997
Visit Website

The burgers are legendary at this beachside dive bar in Manhattan Beach. Each burger is griddled off by bar staff and eaten dozens of times a day by locals, surfers, regulars, and tourists alike. Simply put, there may be no more familiar burger anywhere in the South Bay.

A split open burger sits on a pool table, ready to eat.
A burger at Ercoles.
Wonho Frank Lee

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1. Daglas Drive-In

20036 Vanowen St, Canoga Park, CA 91306

Daglas is an LA institution, particularly in the sprawling San Fernando Valley. The burger here typifies a kind of unique-to-LA version of dining, complete with commercial white buns, griddled patties, and lots of shredded lettuce and American cheese.

20036 Vanowen St
Canoga Park, CA 91306

2. Bill's Burgers

14742 Oxnard St, Van Nuys, CA 91411
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.

14742 Oxnard St
Van Nuys, CA 91411

3. Petit Trois le Valley

13705 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
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.

13705 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

4. Pie 'n Burger

913 E California Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
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.

913 E California Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91106

5. Yuca's Pasadena

1075 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

Of course the cochinita pibil is great at Yuca’s, but real ones know that the burger is itself a star. With freshly-cooked beef served on a well-seasoned griddle at either location, it’s hard to go wrong with this LA classic.

1075 S Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA 91105

6. Goldburger

5623 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

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 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.

5623 York Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90042

7. Burgerlords

110 N Ave 56, Los Angeles, CA 90042

Whereas some places that do non-meat burgers rely on manufactured corporate products like Beyond and Impossible faux meats, Burgerslords 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.

110 N Ave 56
Los Angeles, CA 90042

8. For the Win

6221 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Smash burger fans love For the Win, the pandemic-era burger pop-up that has gone legit in Hollywood and now Whittier. From the heavy sear to the overloaded sauce and thick pickles, this is the burger for those riding the current LA beef and bun trends.

6221 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028

9. Electric Owl

1451 N Gardner St, West Hollywood, CA 90046

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 best, most flavorful burgers anywhere.

1451 N Gardner St
West Hollywood, CA 90046

10. Grill 'em All

19 E Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

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.

19 E Main St
Alhambra, CA 91801

11. Monty's Good Burger

8432 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

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.

8432 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048

12. Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers

2575 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

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 as tap water on hundreds of restaurant menus around Southern California. This is the place that helped to start it all.

2575 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057

13. Amboy Quality Meats

727 N Broadway No. 117, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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.

727 N Broadway No. 117
Los Angeles, CA 90012

14. The Apple Pan

10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
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.

10801 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

15. Everson Royce Bar

1936 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021
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, served daintily-adorned with cheese and spread; save the heaps of lettuce and tomato for those other spots.

1936 E 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Related Maps

16. Father's Office

3229 Helms Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034
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.

3229 Helms Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034

17. Hawkins House of Burgers

11603 Slater St, Los Angeles, CA 90059

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.

11603 Slater St
Los Angeles, CA 90059

18. Ercoles 1101

1101 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
A split open burger sits on a pool table, ready to eat.
A burger at Ercoles.
Wonho Frank Lee

The burgers are legendary at this beachside dive bar in Manhattan Beach. Each burger is griddled off by bar staff and eaten dozens of times a day by locals, surfers, regulars, and tourists alike. Simply put, there may be no more familiar burger anywhere in the South Bay.

1101 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Related Maps