The Escondite Brings Burgers (& Secrecy) to DTLA

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Shhhhh… please don’t tell, but there’s a new “secret” burger place in Downtown L.A.  You would think that opening a burger speakeasy would be impossible in a city that treats every bit of Umami news like it’s a presidential address, but there it is off of San Pedro Street between 3rd and 4th, nestled in the no-mans land between Little Tokyo and Industrial Street’s restaurant row.  The building is completely unmarked, and according to the owners they plan to keep it that way (Escondite literally means hiding place.) But a restaurant that is truly serious about remaining completely hidden is a restaurant run by idiots, so in place of a full scale PR onslaught they have subtly taken to Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter, in the hopes that word of mouth would slowly bring the crowds.

Last week, they got their first hit of press- a blog post by L.A. Food God, which was quickly picked up by Grub Street.  And while it sounds like this place will be more nighttime bar hang out than daytime lunch spot, their menu was cheap enough for me.  And once I heard they were topping burgers with fried eggs and hash browns, I didn’t need to hear anything more.

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The Escondite features 10 burgers, most of which will run you $9 or $10 (there is one that is $11) and the best part is everything comes with fries (bonus!) or a house salad (that’s all you.) But burger purists might want to take a look at the menu before heading out- each creation features some pretty insane combo toppings.  3 of the burgers feature canadian bacon (aka ham), 2 feature an unidentified “special crunch” (spoiler: it’s Fritos in one burger, possibly Funyuns in another, as seen above) and all of the burgers have ridiculous names.  The “Don Ho” features pineapple and teriyaki sauce (natch), while the “Herve Villachez” is topped with a “slice of cream cheese” (WTF?) and jalapenos.  Can’t decide between a burger and a caesar salad?  The “Rip Taylor” is a caesar salad topped burger, complete with croutons.

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Of course the burger that initially lured me to The Escondite was the only burger over the $10 Midtown Lunch limit, but whatever.  I couldn’t resist.  The Cap’t Kangaroo ($11) is already their most popular burger, and with good reason.  It came with a perfectly cooked over easy egg, a whole deep fried hashbrown, cheddar cheese, canadian bacon, and cholula hot sauce.  The brioche backlash might be strong in some, but the backlash to the backlash will note how well this bun keeps everything together for the full lifespan on the burger. Speaking of burgers, how was the actually patty itself?  Who the hell knows, when it’s covered with all that other crap.  (And by crap, I mean tasty deliciousness.)

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If you’re the type of person to get super geeky with burgers, you’ll probably be less than excited by the mushy grind.  And it was virtually impossible to detect the char.  But if the idea of an entire breakfast sandwiched in a bun sounds appealing to you (meat be damned), you will love this burger.

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The burgers seem to be the main draw of The Escondite, but their namesake turns out to be a sandwich.  ”The Escondite” ($8) is their take on a hot beef sandwich, and is made entirely from ingredients shipped in from Vienna Beef in Chicago. And while it isn’t quite the gut bomb that you find in the Windy City, it was tasty enough (especially after a dip in the au jus.)

And did I mention the fries are great?

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Despite having no sign, it’s likely the Escondite won’t be a hidden treasure for long. Apparently they are taking their beer and cocktail program pretty seriously, and that coupled with their dark bar, and cowboy kitsch, should help it to become a popular nighttime hangout.

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But it’s their relatively low prices, and nice outdoor patio, which make it the perfect place to enjoy a Downtown lunch. (Provided you can find the damn place.)

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I love my burgers topped with crazy shit (I’m looking at you hash browns and cream cheese!)
  • Fresh cut french fries FTW
  • It’s nice that practically everything is $10 and under, and all the burgers and sandwiches come with fries
  • Love the outdoor patio during lunchtime
  • Vienna Beef represent!

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I hate my burgers topped with crazy shit.
  • The burger grind is really mealy
  • That place is in the middle of nowhere.  I work in Downtown and there’s still no way I’m making it over there for lunch.

The Escondite, 410 Boyd Street, 213-626-1800

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