In my career, I often find myself in Los Angeles, as it is a major hub and connects thousands of passengers every day to foreign and domestic cities across the world. Unfortunately, my overnights are usually fairly short when I fly to LAX, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying some good and quick food. Often that quick and good food ends up being a juicy burger. We use and have used a few different layover hotels in the greater LAX area, including locations in Hollywood, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, and those that are very close to the airport.
I think I’ve found one of my favorite burgers in the world in Southern California: Umami Burger. I visited the one in Hermosa Beach. I tried the Truffle Burger: beef, house truffle cheese, roasted garlic aioli, and truffle glaze. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm… I also realized after I ordered that there is a "Truffle Royale," a burger identical to the Truffle Burger, but served also with braised short rib on top of the beef patty. How did I miss this? I suppose it doesn’t matter, since the original Truffle Burger was the most flavorful and juicy burgers that I’ve ever tried. They can also serve all of their burgers "poutine style," sans bun, over fries with gravy. This food is so rich and flavorful and I closed my eyes and savored the truffle flavor all day long. I can hardly wait for my next visit to Umami.
Since we are on the subject of burgers, although it is not a California chain only, per-se, I want to talk about Smashburger. Each Smashburger offers a specialty burger that features the food of that region of the country, which I find to be completely unique and ingenious. There is one in Redondo Beach, which features the LA burger: crispy wonton, fried egg, cilantro, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and Japanese steakhouse ginger dressing on a black and white sesame seed bun. The cilantro alone simply beckoned me. I find the flavor of cilantro extremely refreshing and flavorful when added to just about anything. I’ve also had San Diego’s version, which is just called "San Diego Burger: fresh avocado, cilantro, pepper jack, lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream, and chipotle mayo on a torta roll served with a wedge of lime. Each location also features shakes and malts made with Häagen-Dazs. Yum. Between here and Umami Burger, I believe these are my two favorite chains.
One day I’ll tell you about my regional favorites: a local Akron, Ohio, chain called Swensons or a local Raleigh, N.C. chain called Char-Grill Burger, and of course Shake Shack in New York City. And for good measure, I have to say I absolutely love Five Guys. I would feel guilty leaving any succulent, savory, and juicy burger behind. And I may be burned at steak (that pun is intended) for saying this, but, I really don’t see what the fuss is all about when it comes to In-N-Out Burger. Sorry to all the West Coast enthusiasts who don’t share my sentiment. You California people are really devoted to that chain! I can’t figure out what I’m missing.