L.A.’s 5 Most Genius Hamburger Toppings

I was once told that when attempting to judge the greatness of a hamburger the only acceptable toppings are cheese and maybe ketchup.  Being a fat man who loves throwing shit on top of stuff or stuffing stuff in other shit, I kind of scoffed.  But since then I’ve come to appreciate the burger in its most simple form.  Lettuce and tomato is rabbit food.  Bacon is so 2009.  And a runny fried egg?!  Actually, don’t fuck with the fried egg.  A fried egg makes everything better.  And so does grilled onions, and onion rings, and blue cheese.  Even pastrami. Oh, who am I kidding, I love burgers with tons of stuff on them.  And while at one time topping a burger with any one of those things might have been unique, now burger chefs have to get a little bit crazier with their ideas to really get noticed. Here are my 5 favorite, most crazily genius, individual burger toppings in Los Angeles…

KETCHUP LEATHER – PLAN CHECK

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Pay no attention to the stuff on top, the real genius is underneath.

Did you seriously think that the chef who helped to build Umami Burger would open a restaurant in West L.A. specializing in hamburgers, and *not* have some crazy trick up his sleeve? It looks like a fruit roll up. It feels like a fruit roll up. But it tastes like ketchup, and as you eat the thing the gooey sweetness starts to melt into the burger.  It’s almost like the chef came up with this while working at UB, and thought “hmmm… I think I’m going to keep this one for myself.” Genius. Will it cause Heinz apologists to suddenly embrace the idea of house made ketchups?  Probably not.  But fruit roll up enthusiasts now have a burger topping to get super excited about. 1800 Sawtelle Boulevard. 310-288-6500

PARMESAN FRICO – UMAMI BURGER


Photo courtesy of Donny Tsang

It feels wrong to include Plan Check without including the original.  And while many will say that the hatch burger (with its four kinds of chiles) or the manly burger (with its crispy onion strings and bacon lardons) are their favorite, the iconic Umami topping is still that big parmesan crisp on the namesake burger. Multiple Locations

SUSHI – 26 BEACH

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If you saw how excited I got about the Jogasaki Burrito Truck, than it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I love the idea of sushi topped hamburgers. $19 is a bit much to spend on a burger, but when spicy tuna or BBQ’d eel, or California roll innards are involved I’m game for a splurge.  The only thing this would make this better?  Combining them all into one gigantor burger.  And shrimp tempura.  Shrimp tempura would help too. 3100 Washington Boulevard, Marina Del Rey. 310-823-7526

“SPECIAL CRUNCH” (AKA FUNYONS) – THE ESCONDITE

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At The Escondite, a hamburger speakeasy in Downtown L.A., the burgers come topped with all sorts of craziness- from a complete breakfast (eggs, hashbrowns, and canadian bacon) to chili and fritos.  But the one thing I had never seen before?  Funyuns.  At least that’s what I call them, the menu refers to the topping as “special crunch”.  Full disclosure: as a child I used to top my turkey sandwiches with Doritos, and tuna salad with Cheetos, so a Funyun topped hamburger?  I’d say that sounds right up my alley. 410 Boyd Street, 213-626-1800

FENNEL SAUSAUGE GRAVY & MAPLE SYRUP – GRILL EM ALL TRUCK

Burger with Sausage Gravy, Bacon, and Maple Syrup!

Whether you love or hate the idea of a burger from a truck, there is one thing that is undeniable: the fennel sausage gravy with maple syrup that goes onto Grill ‘em All’s “Molly Hatchet” burger is so freaking good. And now that there’s talk of them finally opening a brick and mortar it looks like you’ll be able to enjoy the burger every single day without having to stalk them on twitter. (Although we wouldn’t recommend it. It is probably as deadly as it is delicious. ) Follow them on Twitter for exact locations.

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