If there's any list of these “Best Of Best Of Best Of” items that's likely to engender bitter debate, it's this one. Burgers inspire more debate than any other food we write about, mostly because everyone in Orange County, even those with wooden palates, know what makes a good burger. Some people think the new upscale burgers are ripoffs; some people think fast food is evil.
We had to limit this to ten, which means some worthy contenders got left off–so let's give them love in the comment section!
10. Pee Wee's
It's meant to be a throwback, but Pee Wee's is
today's Orange County distilled in a single eatery; their bánh mì burger
is a long, thin patty that looks like a kabob, stuffed into a French
roll and dressed exactly like a bánh mì, with chiles, cilantro, do chua
and mayonnaise. 5942 E. Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 846-3100; peeweesfamous.com.
9. Riders Club Cafe
Clementeans can keep a secret; the Riders Club is off most burger
lovers' radars, but not for long. While it's a pretty standard burger,
the addition of roasted pasillas and a fried egg–beg for over easy–makes for some of the
best eats in the 949, and at $7.95, it's the lowest price point for
fancy burgers. 1701 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 388-3758; ridersclubcafe.com.
it's a huge chain, but its corporate office is right here in Irvine,
and no list of top burgers could possibly exist without the burger that
inspired jealousy even in jaded New Yorkers. Artisanal? No. Fancy? No.
But good? Oh, yeah. Somewhere south of a million locations throughout OC; in-n-out.com.
7. Original Mike's
don't talk about the vintage-style building on the corner of First and
Main very often, but they've got a good rendition of the standard
American cheeseburger, thick and juicy and just salty enough. Just avoid
the weird cole slaw and get more fries instead. 100 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 550-7764; originalmikes.com.
6. TK Burger
County's real homegrown fast-food burger place, with stereotypically OC
locations like PCH in Huntington Beach and 19th Street in Costa Mesa,
where the booths are covered over with surf and skate stickers and band
advertisements–and the combo is cheap and great. 110 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-3238; also at 2119 W. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 673-3438; 2966 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 662-2572; 615 19th St., Costa Mesa, (714) 548-2858; 24902 Chrisanta Dr., Mission Viejo, (949) 588-7200; 5701 E. Santa Ana Cyn. Rd. #P, Anaheim, (714) 282-7400. tkburgers.com;
5. Haven Gastropub
first of the gastropubs to open, Haven's burger is of the
arugula-and-roasted-pepper variety, salty and resolutely medium-rare.
Paired with a glass from their well-curated beer list, it's a nice meal
in Old Town Orange. 190 S. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 221-0680; havengastropub.com.
4. Slater's 50/50
OC's homegrown answer to the Counter allows you to create your own
burger from a long list of crazy ingredients, but the best burger isn't
even the famed 50/50 half-beef-half-bacon patty; it's the Peanut Butter
and Jellousy with an all-beef patty cooked medium-rare. 6362 E. Santa Ana Cyn. Rd., Anaheim, (714) 685-1103; also at 8082 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach; 714-594-5730; slaters5050.com..
Quinn is obsessive with his burgers in a way that few people could
imagine. Whole cuts of beef? Please, that's old hat; Quinn cuts it by
hand and grinds it multiple times. Whatever the mystical magic in the
kitchen (including a medium-rare-only rule), what comes out is greasy
and awesome. 220 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 560-4444; playgrounddtsa.com.
2. Peter's Gourmade Grill
Stavros opened Peter's Gourmade Grill in a gas
station in an unlovely part of Tustin, and the people came in droves–so
much so that he had to move, and in the process doubled his number of
locations. Stay happy there, Peter's lovers. 14311 Newport Ave., Tustin, (714) 599-3866; also at 600 E. Bay Ave. #A7, Newport Beach, (949)675-8500. gourmadegrill.com.
1. Burger Parlor
Bastide chef Joseph Mahon came home to Fullerton to open a pop-up
burger joint in the Rialto Cafe; his amazing steamed hams, which rotate
through the menu, have created so much love that the shop is moving
around the corner to take up full-time digs on Harbor Blvd. 108 W. Wilshire Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-5111; burgerparlor.com.