Burgers. From one bun to the other, there is nothing that screams ‘America!’ more than the layers of cheese, tomatoes, onions, pickles, sauces, lettuce, and the patty, all in your mouth after your first bite. From careful observation and practice, I think it’s safe to say burgers are a staple of every American’s diet. As a Californian, I can say that I eat burgers about once every one or two weeks. So personally, I find it very important that I eat the best ones I can get in my area.
Here are my top burger places for the perfect feel-good, spontaneous Friday night dinner:
Only in California will you find this timeless classic. The ambiance of the restaurant partially mocks an old style diner, but also has the vibes of a modern day fast food restaurant.
You get your classic hamburger or cheeseburger with their special sauce. It includes a crispy beef patty, the largest cross section of an onion, fresh lettuce, melty cheese, and tomatoes. They aren’t the biggest burgers in the bunch; the restaurant’s motto is quality over quantity. For only around 3 or 4 dollars each, you’ll find yourself coming back for more.
Beyond burgers, they have milkshakes and fries, but don’t trick yourself into believing their menu is limited to these few concepts. Every true Californian has ordered off of the secret menu, only available online, where the restaurant spices up their creations with creative combinations. For example, animal fries entail a side of fries topped with a slice of cheese, charred onions, and their special sauce.
The Counter is pretty much the higher end Chipotle of burgers. That is, you have a whole lot of freedom customizing your burger, but you do so very formally.
You are seated at your table with a glass of water, a pencil, and a comprehensive checklist on a clipboard, offering choices of different bread for your bun, different meat for your patty, and everything in between: cheeses, vegetables, sauces, toppings, etc.
You can even get things like a fried egg or pineapple rings stuffed in your burger. The waiter will collect your order sheet and bring back the beautiful, juicy creation you asked for.
In addition, you can get different types of fries, sweet, sweet milkshakes, and salads on the side, but do you need more food after checking off tens of boxes on the list?
The Habit was life changing when I first had it two years ago. Their signature burger, the charburger, is distinct because there is a layer in the burger of of chopped up, charred, and caramelized onions.
The rest of the fillings are pretty standard for a burger: pickles, mayonnaise, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. I imagine it to be something close to what a Krabby Patty tastes like.
It’s really just anything you’d want in your standard, Friday night burger. They also sell some really great, generous sides, such as thick french fries, curly fries, and my personal favorite, onion rings.
The french fries are never thin or wimpy; they are always thick and have a lot of structure. And the Habit may be the most famous for their divine, flavorful milkshakes with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top. The Habit really takes any aspect of other fast food burger places and takes it a step higher, but for the same low prices.
When I hear the name Smashburger, I am instantly reminded of the juicy, oily patty I had in a guac-jalapeno sandwich once. It felt like more than just a walk in restaurant based off of the quality of the burgers.
From eating it, you can tell they used only the best of the best ingredients. The burgers are never too drippy with sauce or falling apart, yet they still encompass a whole lot of flavor in the select ingredients present. If you are looking for a higher scale burger place than a fast food joint, you’ve found your place
If you want to go all out with the old fashioned, 1950’s style burger restaurant, Johnny Rockets does more than just suffice. With red and white interiors and an enthusiastic staff, you will feel as if you’ve been transported back in time to a diner where people spontaneously take off their shoes and dance the sock hop.
Johnny Rockets is on the more expensive side, but everything you get is well worth your money. With burgers that are held together with a toothpick and colorful plastic flag, fries served with ketchup in a smiley face design, and milkshakes so large they’re served in two cups instead of one, Johnny rockets is the place to satisfy your growling, nostalgic tummy.
So there you have it. A guide to which places you may want to stop by to indulge in a juicy hamburger and taste a little bit of America. Go on. Try them all, and experience generations of culture that even just one bite can provide.