Best Burger of 2014: Belcampo Meat Co.

It may be presumptuous to say I’ve tasted the best burger of 2014 and it is Bel Campo’s cheeseburger, but hey, if I end up tasting a better burger, it will be a good problem to have.

This burger was the best I've had in a long time. Bel Campo knows how to make a good patty.

This $12.50 burger without fries was well worth it.  Happy, until humanely killed for their flesh, cows do taste better.  The patty was a loose, chopped patty that held together very well, but still managed to taste light.  The cheese enhanced rather than distracted from the beef flavor (I’m looking at you, Father’s Office blue-cheese-bomb burger).  The bun was airy but solid enough not to fall apart halfway through the burger.  The whole thing was juicy without being greasy (like an Umami burger).

In the guise of eating something more healthy, I ordered the spicy fried broccolini, which were the best broccolini I’d ever had.  The green was deep fried so the floret was crispy but the stem was still tender.  Tossed with an assertive, lemony and spicy dressing, it was the perfect foil to a perfect burger.  I didn’t even miss not having fries.

The only bad thing I can say about Bel Campo is that it makes choosing another sandwich from the menu or  anywhere else to eat in Grand Central Market very difficult.

Belcampo Meat Co.
Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Pono Burger

Disclaimer: This was a work-sponsored lunch and the burger might have suffered from the 20-second walk from the restaurant to my office.

Inside Pono burger.

For months, my colleagues and I were awaiting the opening of Pono Burger.  A casual restaurant right next door from our office that was even closer than Bay Cities? Yes please.  Well, Pono Burger finally opened on Wednesday and we ventured over on Thursday to order some burgers for our team lunch.

I had the Pono burger cooked a little pink inside with raclette cheese and avocado and some sweet potato fries.  The burger itself was well put together, a good size, and best of all, stayed together till the last bite.  The beef patty was hearty without being too greasy or overwhelming and was cooked to my liking.  The cheese and avocado added to the richness of each bite and the lettuce was wonderfully green and crisp. The brioche bun was also great in that it didn’t disintegrate at the end, which is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to fancier burgers. I forgot to take note of the famed Pono sauce on the burger, but I guess it’s good that it didn’t overpower or distract from the burger experience. Overall, a very decent burger.

Pono Burger from next door.

The sweet potato fries were cut thinly and met expectations.  They were not as crunchy as I would have liked, but tasted healthier, so maybe that’s why.

To wash down my burger and fries, I also ordered a house-squeezed lemonade, which was a little too sweet for me.  Later in the day, I stopped by for a salted caramel milkshake (ordered without the bacon bits) and it really hit the spot.  The shake was so thick I had trouble drinking it from a straw. I liked that it wasn’t as sweet thanks to roasted flavor of the caramel and the little bit of salt.

My vegetarian colleague ordered the meatless burger, which was a large portabella mushroom instead of a meat patty. I kind of think they went the lazy route with that since anyone can stick a portabella on a grill and call it a burger.  It’s too bad they didn’t expand their menu a little bit to add a house-made veggie patty.

Was Pono burger worth the wait? Yes. It’s going to be hard not ordering from that place all the time now.

Pono Burgers
829 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA.
310.584.7005

Homemade Veggie Patties

Veggie burgers w/ homemade patties

Since we eat mostly vegetarian at home, when we get lazy, we often have veggie burgers or sandwiches for dinner.  We usually go for store bought patties or cold cuts, but not anymore! We now have a stack of home made vegetarian patties that Will made a few weeks ago.  He got inspired and made the patties from Richard Blais’s recipe. They seemed labor intensive, but now we have a nice stack in the freezer to pull out whenever we want a burger.

Veggie burgers w/ homemade patties

Maybe they’ll be better after setting in the freezer, but the first batch of burgers we made had the patties fall apart. They were still good though. I think next time we should make the patties smaller because they were so filling. I was stuffed by the time I got halfway through the burger.