Perception never falls into the simple categorization of black versus white. Perception falls anywhere within a boundless spectrum of antipodes. The problem lies with people’s ability to conceive perceptions beyond their scope. You can ask a person what type of music they love the most, while the next person may loathe that type of music. Most people claim to not like country music, yet the truth reveals that they simply have no preference for it; however, few people actually get adamant about the music. Going beyond preferences commonly exists in food and beverages. Where one person may call something “the best,” another will claim something else as better. For example, my father swears by the $2 wine from Trader Joe’s, unable to accept that pricier fine wines taste better. Some people say that no other burger can top a common burger from corporate fast food or corporate restaurants. People truly get attached to their fast food burgers and refuse to believe that better burgers exist out there. Whether or not you claim to know about the best burger in the world, I encourage you to seek out these five burgers in the greater Los Angeles area this season and give them a try. Who knows – maybe you will alter your opinions after one bite!

5. Comme Ça‘s Burger

France – home of some of the world’s finest cuisines. More than just a stereotype, the French value the quality of their food and drinks more than most other regions in the world. Due to how the French view the dining experience, many other countries, notably most of Europe, have followed the structure of quality over quantity. Where Americans simply strive to grow bigger and bigger, the French can teach us that moderation can still taste wonderful, as the folks at Comme Ça will show us. This quaint little restaurant in West Hollywood doles out fine French cuisine by keeping their dishes in manageable portions while still delivering on taste. Sure their menu does not contain as much as your favorite corporate restaurant, but by adapting a vertical progression model, they can focus on improving the quality of their existing dishes rather than spread their effort on excess dishes. Fortunately, they continue to improve upon fan favorites, such as their unnamed Burger available for brunch and dinner. The thick burger patty consists of dry-aged prime beef, which gets topped with Vermont cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, and aioli. Although the toppings appear simple, the spotlight falls on their beef. The sheer thickness of that patty maintains a great amount of the meat’s own juices as Comme Ça sears the patty to a perfect medium rare (or more, on request). With light seasoning, you get a full bite of this wonderful beef patty, and you cannot find consistency like this at any random place.

4. Crow Burger Kitchen‘s Green Label Burger

In a world of consumerism, everyone obsesses over more. Everyone always wants more of anything, because more typically equates with wealth. More often than not, people go way over the recommended amount in a never-ending quest for more. In reality, this creates a facade that masks the true core of the item, much like how makeup, cosmetics, and Photoshop hide a person’s true appearance. Keeping things simple can have its perks, and Crow Burger Kitchen has captured that notion perfectly. Down in Newport Beach, Crow Burger Kitchen resembles your local gastropub – quality food and quality beer. As the restaurant’s name suggests, they specialize in burgers, although they carry other types of entrées as well. Among the variety of burgers that they serve, none stand out more than the Green Label Burger, which ironically does not come with much in the first place. The focus lies in the beef patty, a patty made with 100% prime chuck that Crow Burger Kitchen grounds daily. Other burgers use a blend of different cuts of beef, so the Green Label stands out with its use of a single source – olive oil consumers understand the importance of a single source. To go along with this burger, Crow Burger Kitchen adds fried shoestring onions and bacon butter on a toasted brioche bun. Guests may add a cheese of their choice for $1 extra. Put together, the few added ingredients serve to highlight not only the texture of the beef, but the natural beef flavor. The bacon butter does not overwhelm the palate, but simply compliments the burger. You can obtain this burger for $13.95, and you can add a side of Duck Fat Fries for $3.95 as well. With free parking available, what have you got to lose by visiting Crow Burger Kitchen?

3. 38 Degrees‘ Boar Bánh Mì

History tells us that the hamburger originated in Germany. However, history does not specify the spread of hamburgers around the world. Based on the world’s perceptions, the hamburger moved westward, where Americans claim it as one of their national foods. Contrary to that claim, burgers now exist all around the world, in one form or another. By definition, burger refers to a nickname for ground meat. This explains why some people call macaroni & cheese a cheeseburger pasta (thanks Hamburger Helper). As such, any type of meat can go into a burger, not just beef. If you inspect the menu at 38 Degrees, you will find more burgers than just beef. Known for their penchant for craft beer events, 38 Degrees brings a new style of dining to a town unfamiliar with gastropubs. Their loaded menu contains all the staples one would expect at an American restaurant: appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, entrées, desserts, and drinks. If you ask any server at 38 Degrees, they will inform you about their specialty burgers, such as the Boar Bánh Mì. Taking on the style of traditional Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, this burger first starts with a wild boar patty. Wild boar eats like a pork patty, but contains less fat than pork, lending to its firmer texture. As for the bánh mì ingredients, those all get thrown on top of the wild boar patty: braised pulled pork, daikon, carrots, pickled jalapeños, cilantro, and sriracha aioli. Basically, 38 Degrees deconstructed a bánh mì sandwich and rebuilt it over a wild boar burger. If you like the sandwiches from Lee’s Sandwiches, you owe it to yourself to grab a Boar Bánh Mì at 38 Degrees for $16.

2. The Crow Bar & Kitchen‘s Black Label Burger

As Reel Big Fish says, “It’s not so bad being trendy.” Trendy areas tend to have a more eccentric vibe among the local businesses, scenery, and general atmosphere. The type of people who frequent trendy areas depends largely on the geographical location. Downtown in one city may look more dive than the next city, and the people in those cities often reflect the geography. Not to bash on any particular city, but certain areas with lack of aesthetics would draw in crowds that care less about quality. Compare that with areas that look visually impressive, and those areas attract the smart good-looking people. I cannot even imagine the look on my face when I stumbled into The Crow Bar one random night. Located down in Corona Del Mar past Fashion Island, this trendy upscale gastropub can make anyone look good the moment they walk in. Walking in to the Crow Bar feels like walking onto the set of a daytime drama, where everyone looks like a model. Aesthetics aside, the Crow Bar’s offerings match the setting. From the carefully selected drinks to the sustainable dishes, one cannot feel guilt when ordering anything here. If you truly want to indulge, immediately lock your eyes upon the Black Label Burger. The Crow Bar utilizes 21-day dry-aged prime ribeye for this burger patty, giving the burger a strangely fluffy texture upon biting into it. With meat this good, you need nothing else to accompany it; however, Crow Bar still added ingredients anyways with caramelized onions for sweetness, and the signature bone marrow butter. However they produced this bone marrow butter, it gives the burger a crispy texture, as if biting into potato chips. At first, you may not notice the butter at all. Once you start to feel something crispy in your bites, you have discovered the bone marrow butter. Aside from the daily specials, the Black Label Burger sits on the menu as the most expensive dish at $19 for just the burger. Price aside, can you put a price on something that you cannot find anywhere else? Sure some places literally add potato chips in the burger. You will not find anyone else utilizing this unique ingredient in such a way to transform the burger completely.

1. Arc – Food & Libations‘ Burger

If I could name one thing that annoys me about corporate food businesses, I would say any place that has a so-called secret menu. Why would a business want to hide anything from the customer? Why would customers order a custom order so many times that it merits a secret menu? Does the place not make something they like? A business should treat all customers fair and the same, and not allow certain people to order off a secret menu and keep others in the dark. Whenever I discover a place with a secret menu, I ensure that I stick with the public menu for an accurate review of what everyone else can expect. When I visited Arc – Food & Libations for the first time, I honestly expected some sort of hidden menu; however, a glance at the menu revealed that they finally revealed a great amount on their recent menu. Arc takes on a different approach than your favorite local restaurant. Not only do they butcher their own meat, but they cook everything in a brick oven. Industrial kitchen equipment? Arc has no need for those. Arc believes that people should eat food as nature intended, so they prepare food simply with fire. Their old menu would contain the staples of an upscale American restaurant, leaving out certain dishes that repeat customers would know about. On a recent expedition to Arc, their menu now contains many of the originally secret dishes, such as their monstrous Burger. This burger patty will make you feel like dining in a fancy wine garden in France. Normal restaurant burger patties use ribeye beef for the patty. Arc steps it up a level by combining ribeye with short rib. Then they asked, “Why stop there?” Because people love bacon, Arc tossed in bacon lardons into the patty. Again, they ask, “Why stop there?” So then the patty gets smothered in duck fat, and seared in that brick oven behind the counter. From that oven pops out a face-slapping mound of meat contained within a seared crisp coating of charred duck fat.

This line break serves to allow you some time to take that all in. Yes, this patty contains all that: a short rib and ribeye blend with bacon lardons, coated with duck fat and seared to a crisp, sealing all of the meat’s natural juices and flavor inside the crisp coating. Here, have another line break.

Okay, so what else comes on this tower of a burger? Garlic aioli covers the bottom bun in hopes of preventing the patty’s juices from mucking up the bottom bun, but by the end, the bottom bun will get lost on the plate. On top of the patty, you get to choose your cheese: blue cheese or aged cheddar. Next, Arc throws on yellow heirloom tomatoes, caramelized red onions, Fresno chiles, red lettuce tossed in garlic vinaigrette, and herbs, all on a brioche bun dusted with cornmeal. No, Arc did not throw everything but the kitchen sink onto this burger. One bite into this complex burger, and you may start to see stars just trying to grasp all of the ingredients in this astronomical blob. Just to get the important detail out of the way, this monstrosity costs $20. Second, you may want to tackle this on a cheat day. Third, bring a camera. Fourth, bring a friend. Finally, buy a CrossFit membership – you will need it after this burger.

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