5 Best Burgers in Los Angeles

The claim of being “world famous” should really mean something in Los Angeles, but drive down any Los Angeles boulevard and you’ll see it abused indiscriminately.

You've got that right.


It’s hard to argue that any one burger could be world famous (besides the Big Mac, of course) but there are several that should be even more famous than they are.  and while everyone has a personal favorite that they swear by, the fact is that not all burgers are created equal.  It’s a point of pride for many Angelenos to know where to find the supreme cheeseburger.  It’s a food so commonplace in this city, and this country, that a truely stand-out offering can be like a revelation.  And now, my friends, you can have that revelation too.  Here is the definitive list of LA’s top 5 burgers.

#5:  Sirloin w/Fancy Cheese @ 25 Degrees


I think a good place to start is this faux-upscale ‘burger and wine’ joint with a mammoth selection of cheeses and doors that stay open long past last call.  Fans of schmancy cheeses will appreciate options like red hawk, crescenza and an emmi gruyere.  The ‘build-your-own’ menu can be a trap, though, so avoid all the crazy stuff they can cram onto your burger.  My suggestion is pick a cheese and let it ride.  Also – the service is usually atrocious and the late night kitchen staff sometimes forgets the subtle reference contained in their name (25 degrees is the difference between medium-rare and well done), BUT all-in-all this burger represents a genuine find.

#4:  Big Macro @ M Cafe de Chaya


LA’s best vegan burger also happens to be macrobiotic and absolutely delicious.  Whatever they do to make the patty they do right, it keeps its moisture and flavor and still holds up to the pile of sprouts, pickles, onions and tofu cheese.  I am not a vegan, but I do I have vegan friends (whom I pity).  This burger could be the first step toward peace between our kinds.


#3:  Hickory Burger @ The Apple Pan


The Apple Pan is a legendary lunch counter-style joint in West LA that has had its share of good reviews and die-hard devotees.  The Hickory Burger was the only LA burger (besides In-N-Out) that I heard about before I moved here, and was the first burger pilgrimage I made when I got here.  It’s smoky and sloppy, and without a table to sit at, it’s almost a public spectacle to enjoy.   But any afficionado will tell you it’s worth the wait for a seat at the counter where the motto is ‘Quality Forever.’

#2  Umami Burger @ Umami Burger


The flagship burger at this now famous establishment is the closest thing we have to a gastronomic world wonder.  Even ?uestlove says it’s his fave.  The geniuses at Umami Burger have hit the target on a whole slew of burgermetrics: patty size (pretty big and a little round), doneness (it comes out medium rare and dripping with flavor) and topping innovation (mushrooms, a parmesan crisp and a perfectly grilled tomato).  They have that secret ‘umami’ ketchup that we suspect is the normal fare with a touch of hoisin.  And they have great service in some hip locations.  What more could you want?

#1 Hatch Burger @ Umami Burger


This.  Perhaps its a matter of taste (what food review isn’t?).  Perhaps it’s the Truffle Burger that really belongs in the #1 spot (it is also sublime).  But for my money, there is no better burger than this one:  Umami’s perfectly cooked patty with green chilies and cheese, period.  It’s spicy and savory and so good you would name your kid after it. 

It’s probably no surprise that the top 2 both go to Umami, and that their other fare (the aforementioned Truffle, the Pork Belly, the Port-and-Stilton) could knock the pants out of any double-double with cheese.  I actually have to prevent myself from eating these burgers too often, for both health issues and because I dread the day when I am sick of these delicious treats.   I do know what I’m having for lunch, though, and it ain’t a salad.


  1. I have never understood the attraction to the Apple Pan. Eaten there several times and have always been disappointed.

    Also, if you have not tried it, go to Casell’s on 6th, just west of Vermont (almost downtown). I’ve only been there once, but I can still taste it! They have their own, homemade mayonnaise, believe it or not.

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