The hot summer days lends perfectly to grilling weather. As an American tradition, citizens officially start the grilling season on Memorial Day weekend, as that signifies many things. First off, on that weekend, Americans celebrate an important federal holiday to celebrate and honor the lives of those lost while serving for the United States Armed Forces. The weather starts to significantly heat up by this weekend, following the inconsistent weather of April and much of May. As a result of the warmer weather, Americans take advantage of a holiday weekend off of work until the next federal holiday, Independence Day, to gather some friends & family for a party involving grilling. When thinking about grilling for a group of people, what food exactly comes to mind? I guarantee that hot dogs and hamburgers top the list. The notion to purchase these items in bulk contributes to the misconception that these foods do not taste good. The phrase “You get what you pay for” has never applied as much as it does now, as most who purchase in bulk tend to pay low per individual unit. If you seek quality, you will have to drop extra money for it. Hot dogs tend to bear questionable ingredients, but true hamburgers still exist in this world. If you happen to find yourself in Southern California this summer, check out these five places to grab some of the best burgers you will ever have. One bite into these will change the way you look at hamburgers forever.

5. Stefano’s Golden Baked Hams‘ Bur-gini

When you make a product so good that everyone knows you for it, people start to recognize you for that one particular product. In some cases, you just have to go with it, such as with Stefano’s Golden Baked Hams. Located in Yorba Linda, the folks behind the counter churn out more than just sliced pork – they make sandwiches, salads, and drinks too. Often at full capacity during lunch hours, their menu has attracted countless hungry visitors to try their amazing eats, such as the Bur-gini. A burger meets a panini in this interesting twist with a beef patty consisting of a blend of chuck, short rib, and brisket. Bacon, avocado, tomatoes, cheddar, onions, and a roasted garlic & jalapeño cream cheese spread accompanies this unique spin on a patty melt, yielding a hearty bite with a kick. Unfortunately they will only cook the burger no less than well-done, so true burger enthusiasts may not appreciate the firmness of this patty. You can order this fulfilling burger at Stefano’s in Yorba Linda for just $9.50.

4. The Rookery Alehouse‘s The Gunslinger

The popularity of craft beer continues to exponentially rise annually. While more and more people prefer to drink craft beer, many other crafty craft beer fans have taken to cooking with it. The down-home folks at The Rookery Alehouse in Downtown Pomona love beer so much that they incorporate it into some of their menu items. From IPA battered appetizers to ale-braised pork, a customer can find beer in nearly all food that The Rookery has available. For what I can only refer to as a beer shock, try a burger named The Gunslinger. This burger gets the typical supporting cast of tomatoes, arugula, bacon, pepperjack cheese, and that sauce. That dark colored spread on the bun? The Rookery employs a dark ale reduction sauce that gives this burger a sweet flavor with a little bite. Something in the sauce adds the slightest spice, just enough to open up your tastebuds to absorb more flavor from everything present on this burger. All burgers come with your choice of fries or a side salad; personally, I recommend the salad, as the vinaigrette dressing that The Rookery uses provides a tart flavor to help balance the burger. To complete this meal, add some craft beer – an imperial IPA with its bitterness will serve as a palate reset, while a dark ale will sharpen the burger’s juices and sauce. Get this burger in you for just $11.

3. Fusion Burgers‘ Noir Burger

Never judge a book by its cover. Even the scariest neighborhoods can hide diamonds in the rough. When a friend recommended to me to explore her neighborhood of Highland Park, at first I felt skeptical about visiting what I perceived as a desolate and dangerous city. Undaunted, I sought out those recommendations, and one of them landed me at Fusion Burgers. From the outside, this place looks like a hole-in-the-wall. From the inside, this place looks like a hole-in-the-wall. One look upon their burgers, and you will realize this place holds more value than just a hole-in-the-wall. The quality of their burgers rival that of Umami Burger, but cost way less than them. Spoil yourself with Fusion Burgers’ Noir Burger, a spitting image of the Port & Stilton Burger from Umami Burger. The Noir Burger comes with aioli, boschetto a la tartufo (cheese infused with truffles), and a pinot noir sauce. Prepare to get messy with this burger, a burger that takes an umami-coated bat and slams you in the face with it. The pinot noir sauce attempts to tone down the intense savoriness of the burger with its tartness, but simply adds sweetness, intensifying this psychedelic experience. Ask for this burger medium rare, because they will cook it a perfect medium rare. For something that makes top competitors look like child’s play, this burger only costs a mere $10! While the commute here may feel like a chore, the rewards will definitely please you.

2. The Factory Gastrobar‘s Glazed Donut Burger

In regards to when in the day people order the most burgers, the most burgers get served during lunchtime. Dinner often sees burgers getting ordered, just not as much as lunchtime. But burgers for breakfast? Does such a thing exist? Burgers for breakfast definitely exist, just not as prevalent as it should. Fortunately, The Factory Gastrobar in Long Beach has capitalized on the concept of a burger for breakfast. Gastropubs hastily and competitively get into the brunch business in hopes of tiding over the mimosa crowd over to the craft beer crowd, and thanks to the introduction of certain beer styles such as oatmeal stouts and citrus wheat ales, gastropubs can function just fine for brunch. The Factory now has undergone its full transfiguration of experiencing every angle of running a restaurant, resulting in versatility unmatched by competitors. Now open for brunch on weekends, The Factory can sling its locally-grown faire under a warm California sun, such as their Glazed Donut Burger. The patty consists of a pork sausage blend, reminiscent of the breakfast links found in supermarkets, but without preservatives or artificial ingredients. This patty sits on a bed of a cherry bourbon preserve and bacon. All this gets sandwiched between two glazed donut halves, then drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Each burger comes with a side of scrambled eggs, which I recommend you insert into the burger for an all-in-one meal. Even better, you can order craft beer during brunch hours! I cannot determine the perfect beer to pair with this, as I could recommend anything from an IPA to a wild/sour ale. Whatever you choose, I believe that you will believe in The Factory for what they can accomplish.

1. Messhall Kitchen‘s Mess Burger

If you ask anybody about the top three most important factors in what makes a business successful, you will hear “Location, Location, Location.” Sure that mainly applies to real estate, but honestly, this concept applies to virtually everything tangible in this world. Luckily for the burger connoisseurs, the Messhall Kitchen resides in an easily accessible location in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. This mess hall does not mess around with their menu – they carry a massive variety of bourbon, a rotating selection of craft beer, and a diverse menu sure to please anyone of any background. Any first-time visitor will definitely not want to miss the signature Mess Burger, a burger with so much going on that the mind cannot possibly comprehend its existence. This burger comes with “slow onions” (which I will deem as caramelized onions), Vermont cheddar, garlic-infused pickles, and “smokey sauce” (like a thousand island and aioli hybrid). Why bother going through the hassle of throwing on lettuce and tomatoes when you only need the few necessary ingredients to extract the true flavor behind the seared exterior of the beef? You have these slow onions which provide a slight sweetness, cheddar to provide the creaminess, pickles to provide the tartness with a kick of garlic, and this smokey sauce that just emulsifies it all together. If ordered medium rare, the patty comes out with a perfect warm pink center that extends all the way to the side with a nice sear on the exterior. If you find yourself lucky enough to make landfall at or around Los Feliz, head on over and score this beaut of a meal, which costs $16 during dinnertime or $11 during lunchtime. You can also order this burger as sliders during Happy Hour for just $8! Feed your appetite at any size, just the way you want it!

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