Courtesy of Pono
Rachel B. Levin
November 05, 2014

Los Angeles is undoubtedly a burger town, and the city's appetite for grilled beef patties on buns is inextricably tied up with its car culture. After all, burgers are the ultimate in satisfying-yet-portable fare. When the drive-thru burger stand was first born in an L.A. suburb in the 1940s, it was a natural fit for a city entranced by the automobile. That stand was In-N-Out Burger, which remains an iconic fast-food burger destination to this day. Things have slowed down in the new millennium, though, and nowadays Angelenos are just as likely to relish sit-down burgers at some of the city’s finest restaurants. The farm-to-table philosophy has colonized the burger realm, with grass-fed, organic meats and seasonal produce now the building blocks of the indulgent sandwich. Even quick-service spots are trashing the fast-food practices of yesteryear, with frozen beef and heat lamps becoming extinct. From refined to retro, here are five essential L.A. burgers.

Michael's

Open since 1979, this former fine dining establishment recently loosened its tie for a more "upscale-casual" audience. But the insanely delicious burger is unquestionably posh: grass-fed Wagyu beef topped with crispy shallots, white cheddar, Russian dressing, lettuce, and tomato on a soft bakery bun. It's worth the $18 price tag!

Father's Office

The legendary Office Burger at this foodie gastropub touched off the gourmet burger craze back in 2000, and for good reason. The dry-aged beef patty is topped with caramelized onions, bacon, gruyere, Maytag blue, and arugula—no substitutions allowed. Add sweet potato fries and a craft beer for decadent perfection!

Pono Burger

With local, organic, pasture-raised beef and farmers’ market produce, this casual-cool burger joint defies all fast-food tropes. Build your own burger with gourmet add-ons like artisanal cheeses and wood-roasted chilies, or try one of their signature creations, like the fig burger with caramelized fig jam, brie, crispy bacon, and arugula.

The Apple Pan

Since 1947, this greasy spoon has been slinging burgers at its U-shaped counter. There aren't a lot of frills, but the signature steakburger and hickoryburger are among the best all-American burgers you'll ever encounter. Soak up the retro vibes, and save room for a slice of their famous apple pie.

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

Burgers take a postmodern turn at this local comfort-food chainlet. The perfectly charred beef patty is paired with house-made American cheese infused with Japanese dashi (imparting a kick of seaweed flavor) and a square of ketchup "leather." It may sound like science class, but the alchemy is pure gastronomical gold.

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