Hamburger Habit Just Might Cause One

After a tiring but exhilarating day today covering the L.A. Auto Show, I wanted to stop for some local quick food.  However, it was getting near rush hour, so I decided to leave Downtown and head back to the West Side.  On the way, I remembered that I had never been to Hamburger Habit, and, with its location at the intersection of National and Sepulveda Blvds., it was more or less on the way home.  A bit of Thomas Guiding later, and I passed under the neon sign and into the red, white, and chrome burger joint about which I had heard good things.

The man who took my order was the owner, Frank Pezeshki.  With his mustache, open-necked shirt, and gold Star of David, Frank is a character.  He reminds me of character actor Lou Jacobi. However, to make a point, Frank doesn’t raise his low voice.  Rather, he reaches across the counter to touch you on the arm.  Then, when he sees an extra drop of drink on the outside of your cup, he reaches across the counter again, grabs the cup, and wipes it clean with a cloth.  It’s certainly personal, hands-on service.

We had a good conversation, and Frank said the Habit has been in business for over four decades, formerly located on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood.  When I told him that I might want to hold the sauce on my #3 cheeseburger, he said “if you don’t like it, bring it back.”  When I told him I had heard his burgers were really good, he said, “if you don’t like, it bring it back.”

I didn’t bring it back.  I took off with the food in my car, and, after sitting behind the wheel of new cars with that new car smell all day, I now had an even more pleasant aroma wafting in the front seat of my not-so-new car.  Of course, I ate the fries while driving, with a stick shift (professional driver/closed course/don’t try this at home kids), but waited until I reached a safer destination before unwrapping the burger.  The fries were thick, crunchy outside, fluffy inside, old school style, and very tasty.

And the burger? At $ 4.60 for the basic cheeseburger and with a less harried, mom-and-pop atmosphere, Hamburger Habit is not directly comparable to cheaper old standby In-N-Out.  It’s more comparable to slightly upscale fast food burger joints like Five Guys, which is one of my favorites.  However, the Habit’s burger was different from Five Guys’.  It was so soft, so tender, so fresh.  It tasted like it had been made with loving care.  (According to the Habit’s website, the burgers are made with ground chuck steak, which is delivered fresh daily). It actually tasted better with every bite, which I don’t think I have experienced in a burger before.  Perhaps the ultimate compliment is that I finished my burger very, very quickly.

I’m not saying I’m quitting on Five Guys.  I still like them very much.  But Hamburger Habit is located much closer to me.  I drive by there regularly.  There’s a good chance that, next time I do so, I’ll get a pleasantly twitchy feeling in my stomach.

Perhaps it should be called Hamburger Jones.

The greatest hamburger in LA (maybe)

It is possible (I say this with much trepidation as I am sure this pronouncement will be met with much naysaying) that I have finally found LA’s greatest hamburger. It is possible that the greatest hamburger in Los Angeles can be found at Howard’s Famous Bacon and Avocado Burgers, at Venice and Sepulveda.

This is not a fancy burger. Apart from the eponymous bacon and avocado, this is a burger with absolutely no frills. But do you know what? Some days all I want is some ridiculous burger topped with three different varieties of artisinal smoked provolone, a balsamic reduction, pineapple-mango salsa, micro-greens and unicorn saliva. And some days I only have five dollars and I just want a burger, dammit.

And those are the days when Howard’s is it. The blinding, blinking sign is like a beacon in the smog; the orange and turquoise interior is decorated with faded, curling movie posters from the 1940s; and the burger is probably perfect. The bun is toasty and lovely, the patty is juicy and delicious, the bacon is crispy, the avocado is perfectly ripe, and the cheese, well, the cheese is orange.  And all is right with the world.  This is possibly the closest I’ve come to my ideal, platonic cheeseburger.

Ok, now tell me:  where’s your favorite burger in LA?

Howard’s Famous Bacon and Avocado Burgers
11127 Venice Blvd Ste 7
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 838-9111

Conan O’Brien Pimping In-N-Out Burger

img_1548Monday night was the third time that I have heard a sneaky plug for In-N-Out Burger in only about six episodes that I have watched of the new L.A. area-based “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” When I heard this burger blurt come up in conversation for the first time a couple of weeks ago, with a guest (Tom Hanks, I think) advising Conan on where to find great burgers in L.A., it sounded genuine. When, a few days later, I heard it for the second time in the exact same context with a different guest, I began to have suspicions. Then, on Monday night, my suspicions seem to have been confirmed.

Conan’s carnivorical commercialism, after the jump

Mark and Steve and the Deathly Mallows

Hello friends! Mark and Steve here, on Sunday we wandered into the local 99¢ store on La Brea in Hollywood. Hunting for cheaps snacks and cheap thrills on a lazy Sunday, we discovered an interesting new food group, “Mallow”:

We were tickled by the fact that marshmallow products, pressed and colored to resemble hot dogs, pizza, hamburgers and fries even existed so we bought one of each, and scurried home.

What follows is the true, documented, and photographed tellings of two able-bodied eaters in the greatest taste-test of their lives!

The grisly details follow after the cut.

Click for tons more disgusting pictures with descriptive text!