burgers

I have been on a burger craze these few days — more like weeks. I’ve been ordering the burger everywhere and anywhere I go. When it came to ordering the fried chicken or the PCB at Plan Check, I chose the burger. I know they were known for their fried chicken, but the power of the almighty burger was much too strong. And ketchup leather? Need I say more?

The Check Burger has Americanized dashi cheese. This to me sounds like American cheese with MSG inside it somehow. The flavor wasn’t any different and entire unnoticed. The ketchup leather and schmaltz onions really took over in the flavor department. Caramelized onions is one of my favorite burger toppings, and ketchup is my least favorite. Interestingly, the ketchup leather gave a nice sticky tang flavor whereas the onions were nicely sweet and savory. The mixed pickles were nicely welcomed. The beef patty was perfectly cooked medium rare. As a matter of fact, this is where the PCB shines. The beef was a so pure and delicious. Ithe unalterated beef stood out so perfectly in this burger. My only gripe about this burger was the bun. It was plain and boring. With a little care for an artisan crafted bun, this would be a perfect cheeseburger in Los Angeles.

Plan Check has lots going for it. Being one of my favorite restaurants on Sawtelle, the somewhat small bar and kitchen is popular amongst locals. The staff is some of the friendliest I have ever seen. Extra care is taken in the food by the chefs in the kitchen. Only the best of the best is used. That, I respect greatly, and hope other restaurants follow suit.

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Gordon Ramsey, the restaurant mogul is on a roll. Planting seeds in Caesars Entertainment properties, Chef Ramsey has his name on most of the Las Vegas properties. From a steakhouse in Paris, and an Irish Pub at Caesars, the TV star’s sure has a repertoire of making money involving food. Now, Gordon Ramsey takes on the all mighty burger. As mentioned before, Las Vegas has one too many steak restaurants, but the burger isn’t getting much love. Every other restaurant serves burgers, but finding a gosh darn good burger is Vegas is hard to come by. The restaurant lies right near the entrance of Planet Hollywood. The look and feel of the restaurant was that of a high end sports bar. It is Gordon Ramsey we are talking about after all.

The Roasted Jalapeño Poppers was a must. The menu stated that there was “one fiery surprise.” The surprise? Of the many jalapeno poppers, one of them is left whole without the insides (seeds and all) cleaned out. Think Russian Roullete with spicy stuff. Honestly, the “special” one wasn’t that much spicier. The cheddar bacon inside the jalapenos was delicious. Bathing in their individual shot glasses filled with cheddar ranch, every bite had a lot of flavor and a lot of sauce. A bit salty at times, but the spicy salty mixture was welcome.

To cool off our tongues, we ordered the Shake #4 — layers of crème brûlée pudding and an oreo shake topped off with an Oreo cookie was perfect. The custard filling was smooth and sweet. Mixed with America’s favorite cookie with some cream, this dessert shake was quite satisfying.

Put an egg on a burger, and I am sold. The Farm Burger was a recipe for a perfect burger. Included was duck breast bacon, English sharp cheddar and a fried egg. The beef was impressive in the quality and the way it was cooked. Perfectly medium rare, the inside was pink with no signs of raw meat and no gray meat. The duck bacon was a nice touch, but my favorite was the runny egg. It served as a nice sauce for the burger and rounded out the saltiness really well.

Every burger needs a side of fries. We ordered the parmasean truffle fries, and did not really care for them. Maybe because I really like thin shoestring fries, and hate thick cut fries. The parmesan was good on it, but the best part was the truffle aioli. With real chunks of truffles (because we all know Chef Ramsey hates truffle oil), the sauce made all the difference. Dunking these thick cut fries in the sauce was almost like cheating. The fries could have been from the freezer, but still delicious.

I had a few bites of he fresh roasted Chili Dawg. When I saw the list of ingredients, I knew I had to order this. It had roasted fresno pepper, jalapeños, cheddar cheese, avocado, red onion, and was topped with chipotle ketchup. It was a chili cheese dog, like the ones from Pink’s or 7-11 — this was a chili pepper dog. The chilies were not spicy though, which was a good thing. It gave a nice sweetness with a little kick. The bun was amazingly soft, and I appreciated it. The actual hot dog was a little salty — actually, a lot salty. It was really overbearing, and had to sauce it up just to cover up the saltiness. It was a nice snappy frank though, and the flavors really worked well together.

Dessert came a second time, and the gourmet burger and hot dog ended with Sticky Toffee Pudding. I had the sticky toffee pudding at Gordon Ramsey Steak at Paris, and it was freakishly delicious. The Push Up Pops version wasn’t as refined, but just as delicious. The salted peanut ice cream mixed in with the sticky toffee was a great mixture. This salty and sweet mixture served up in a push pop was fun to eat. I remember eating Flintstones ice cream from these things as a kid. I would prefer to eat it with a fork on a plate, but the delivery was kind of cool and nostalgic.

It looks like Gordon Ramsey has a hit. It does suffer in the identity department. The decor inside seems cheap yet classy, but still exudes sports bar, but not. At the end of the day, the food is all that really matters. It surely doesn’t have that Gordon Ramsey refinement, but the food is still superb. Definitely, this could be a contender in being one of Las Vegas’ best burgers.

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Humble Potato – Hambagas and Fries

by Franklin on May 3, 2014

Humble Potato has a simple concept. It puts a Japanese twist on American comfort food. This fast casual has an identity crisis. I initially thought they were a French fry shop– you know, kind of like a create your own French fry bar with your choice of toppings. I was surprised this place has no real emphasis on potatoes, but more on burgers. Good thing!

I ordered the Battle Royal– “Organized chaos!” Towered high is fresh Angus beef, “fried egg-splosive” egg sprinkled with seasoning salt, avocado, romaine, thick cut tomato, onion, Applewood smoked bacon, and HP spicy sauce. This burger was taller than it was wide. It was difficult to eat. Honestly, the burger gets an “A” for effort, but the is about it. The bun was off, and the beef was cooked all the way through. No medium rare or even medium here. The avocado gets lost in everything and all the ingredient come through individually. The burger fails to bring everything into one cohesive meld of things. It was an interesting burger.

The Shichimi & Garlic Parmesan Fries was quite the contrary to the burger. The potatoes themselves were fried to a crisp. It was the crunchiest and most solid French fry I ever had. The plastic fork had such a hard time poking at the fries. Think potato chips in the form of thick fries. This made for some awesome crunchtastic fries. The shichimi seasoning was a nice touch, and the Parmesan just created that extra depth. Of course, the garlic was welcome immensely, and everything came together quite nicely. I’m telling you, the crunch was insane and nothing like I ever had before.

The Humble Potato was an interesting experience. I getting he concept of Japanese American fusion, but I don’t quite understand the restaurant name. Nonetheless, the food was interesting. The burger, s let down, and the fries, an interesting surprise. Come here only slightly hungry. Get the fries — the hot dogs are next on my list.

Humble Potato on Urbanspoon

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I remember going to Islands as a kid. When I say kid, I mean a high school kid. I had a driver’s licence, I had a car (more like half a car), and that is all I needed to hang out with my friends at Islands with some burgers and fries. On my recent visit as an adult, not much has changed. That’s a good thing. The food was just as good as I remember, and chill and relaxed atmosphere made all the difference. Everything started with drinks. Every burger needs the company of a good shake. One of the hardest decisions is vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. I was feeling like strawberry, and I made a good choice. It was creamy and thick, and not too sweet. This was a good start to a great meal.

We started off with the nachos. These were pretty standard nachos. It had cheese, olives, guacamole, and sour cream. One thing I really want on nachos, and this is a personal preference, is nacho cheese. I know nacho cheese is a step down from the real stuff, but I need the fake ooey gooey. The melted cheese soon cooled off and web of chips stuck together. What I like to do is get a bunch of cheese in between two chips and make a little sandwich. The guacamole and sour cream did a good job in keeping everything creamy. I like the addition of the olives as it gave a nice salty flavor. Of course, the heat and acidity of the jalapenos cut the richness of the cheese. This was a standard plate of nachos and a perfect start.

The burger the restaurants main attraction, and the black pepper crusted Kilauea burger. The crust on the meat was so perfect. The meat was overcooked, but I really like my beef patty on the bloody side. The jalapeño in combination with the pepper jack cheese and chipotle aioli gave it a nice zesty flavor — not at all overly spicy. Topped with their signature Island Reds, it was a delicious burger. The crunch from the fried onion strings and the melted cheese made a great cheesy crispy mix. The best part of this burger really is the black pepper crusted patty. It is so in your face and full of flavor. I wish I could have this with a fried egg on top. Now that would be awesome. I had my burger with a side of sweet potato fries. Theirs was different that other places because it was more firm and crispy. Most places have sweet potato fries but are often limp. I liked how these spent a little more time in the fryer. Dipping these in their ranch, which by the way was salty, was so good. By the way, I love ranch that is salty and savory more than the creamy counterpart.

I wanted to for something not so heavy, so I opted for the fresh grilled mahi mahi tacos. Topped with chipotle-white sauce, cabbage, cilantro & diced tomatoes, the fish tacos were only healthy, but tasty too. I didn’t really care for the ranchero beans, but it was a good hearty condiment to the fish tacos. The start of course was the mahi mahi. It was grilled nicely and the flavors were in your face. I liked their corn tortillas too. I wouldn’t have expected a burger joint to take that much care in fish tacos. This would have been perfect with the appetizer nachos I had earlier. Only if I had waited.

To put an end to all the deliciousness, ordered dessert. The chocolate lava cake sounded too good to resist. It entailed a fudge brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. The whole thing was drizzled with chocolate syrup, topped with whipped cream, roasted almonds, and of course, a cherry on top. The fudge brownie itself was chocolate goodness. The ice cream helped balance out everything nicely. I mean, we are talking about brownies and ice cream here. With the crunch of toasted almonds, it can’t get any better.

Eating here really took me back to my adolescent years. The relaxed atmosphere and good food was really all I needed. I like how as I grew up, everything stayed the same. I guess you can say it got a lot more fresh and clean, but the whole beach side relaxing feeling is still there.

Islands on Urbanspoon

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Let’s talk about the best burger you ever stuffed your face with. I still to this day am still looking for the best burger. Sometimes, an In-n-Out Double Double will do — Animal Style, with grilled onions, raw onions, and secret sauce. As good as that is, it doesn’t scream out gourmet. And every good burger needs the perfect batch of french fries on the side, and In-n-Out is far from it. The Office Burger at Father’s Office is acclaimed by many to be the best burger in Los Angeles. I know that may be a shock to diehard In-n-Out fans, but Sang Yoon’s Office Burger is quite delicious. The gastropub offers some of amazing beer selections and pairs well with the menu. For this blog post, it will only concentrate on the burger and fries.

The Office Burger received a lot of criticism because some say it’s not a burger, but a sandwich. Instead of a traditional bun, they use a French roll of a sort. My question to you is, what makes the sandwich, the patty or the bun? For no reason whatsoever, let’s just call this a burger. Come on.. it’s a burger. The melted gruyere and Maytag blue cheese ain’t enough of a reason to call this a burger? How about the dry aged beef patty? What sandwich has grilled onion bacon compote? Honestly, the reason I like the Office Burger is because of this onion bacon compote. The sweetness of the onions and savory bacon create such a perfectly “umamic” flavor profile. (I don’t know if umamic is a word, but I will try and see if it’ll fly.) This went perfectly contrasting to the arugula in the burger. Everything together with the patty, cheese and compote perform a perfect symphony on your taste buds.

As I mentioned, a good burger needs an equally good side of fries. Father’s Office fries are quite delicious. Maybe it’s because I like shoe string fries, and I like my fries crispy. Dipping it in their tangy aioli puts all other sauces to shame. I see why they still to this day don’t have ketchup at the restaurant. Crispy and firm, the fries are something to reckon with.

I’ve had a few Office Burgers in my eating career, but never really blogged about it. The question remains though, is The Office Burger the best burger in Los Angeles. It possibly is, but tastes vary between people and time. I was surprised to find the waiter ask me how I wanted my burger cooked though. I guess forcing people to eat burgers medium rare like back in the day doesn’t fly anymore. The Helm’s location is second to the original Santa Monica location. Still though, the gastropub offers amazing beer and a burger to compete with anything around.

Father's Office on Urbanspoon

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Serendipity 3 is a famous stop for tourists in Las Vegas. Situated central to the Las Vegas strip, it sits just outside Caesar’s Palace. The colorful pink and whimsical design makes Serendipity 3 a fun place to eat. Known for their Golden Opulence Sundae, the $1000 dollar, word record holding as the most expensive dessert, the restaurant isn’t quite high end. The atmosphere is fun and casual. I remember going here when it first opened, and though the decor received an upgrade, the food and service seems to be stagnant. Nothing was out striking or extraordinary. It’s still a fun place to grab a bite and dessert in the form of a frozen hot chocolate. Popularized by the movie Serendipity, the NY base was where it all started.


The ABC burger seemed like the only legit burger here. ABC, meaning Avocado, Brie cheese, and caramelized onions made this burger what it is. The picture really makes it look small, but it was a bit larger than that. The amazing part was the blanket of melted brie over the top. It gave the burger a nice silky texture, as did the avocados as well. The caramelized onions gave a nice savory note, and everything worked perfectly together. They accidentally gave us regular fries instead of the sweet potatoes like we ordered. I liked their version of the sweet potato fries because of its sweetness. Each fry had a nice sugary crust.


We all come here for one thing only — that is their Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. It is a hot chocolate mix, mixed in with crushed ice and topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. It’s not really an ice cream, and isn’t overly sweet. The chocolate flavor shines in this bowl, and the pure cocoa is the star. If you are looking for a sugary indulgence of a dessert, this is not for you. If you like chocolate flavor, and like it cold, then this is perfect!

Serendipity 3 is an awesome place to be. The colorful wallpaper and interesting nick-nacks make it a fun destination. Close to the Bellagio Fountains, Caesars Palace, and anything central to Vegas, it’s easy to “stop by”. Honestly though, not everything was all fine and dandy. Some of the waiters were kind of sketchy. One waiter tried to serve us water from a table who didn’t want them. The burger bun was a bit on the dry side. And honestly, the restaurant keeps getting the interior/exterior changed — that could be a good thing or a bad thing. Fine tuning these things and maximizing this prime real estate could really help solidify this restaurant.

Serendipity 3 on Urbanspoon

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I was at Huntington Beach the other days, before it was cold cold. I had wanted to try 25 degrees in the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood for a while now. On my stroll around Huntington Beach, I was pleasantly surprised to see it in Orange County!

I orders the number three – it had mezzo secco, jack cheese, green chile, chipotle, and avocado. All that was missing was bacon. Honestly though, even with the salty holy grail of all burger toppers missing, this burger didn’t need it. The flavor of the beef was so pure and clean. Juices dripped from all corner of this burger. All this time, bacon burger were masking the pure taste of beef. The avocado and cheeses made somewhat of a mash of guacamole and each bite just dissolved in my mouth. Score!

On the side of the burger was an order of onion rings and sweet potato fries. These were also quite good and I had no complaints. The onion rings had a great crunch on the outside –the batter was perfectly light. The sweet potato fries were a little soggy, as almost all mostly are, but still had a great crisp left in them. These two were a great match with the burger.

For dessert, we order the Guinness shake. I was intrigued and where else can you order such a thing? This shake isn’t a Guinness “taste-alike” kind of drink. It straight up had a lot of Guinness beer in it. They did ask for ID after all. The creamy, chocolaty goodness mixed with Guinness was genius. It worked so well and the flavor was complex with that beer added in. This is a must order when you are here.

The decor inside and out was classic. Adopting cues from the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, the center that took over the majority of the restaurant. I didn’t have my point and shoot or my DSLR, so my iPhone camera had to endure the low light situation. Though the pictures came out subpar, the burgers are a different story.

25 Degrees on Urbanspoon

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Mohawk Bend – Echo Park Doing a Complete 180

by Franklin on July 18, 2013

Echo Park is getting there. In the past years, the sub city has been making strides to beautify and clean up the mess. Echo Park in the 80′s and 90′s was terrifying. As a child, I remember visiting my grandparents who lived in Echo Park. Those were some rough memories, but still fun. Today, the remnants of that era still linger, but in a beautiful way. Boutique shops and restaurants popped up all over Echo Park — on Sunset, west of Alvarado at least. One such restaurant, Mohawk Bend is one of many that turned something ugly into something amazing. Owner Tony Yanow turned the 100-year old Vaudeville Theater into what Mohawk Bend is today. For awesome pictures and to learn more about the architecture, check out Freshome. Mohawk Bend is a restaurant and bar that sources everything locally. They appeal to meat eaters like me, to vegans and vegetarians. It opened it’s doors on August 1, 2011, and has been a popular spot of the neighborhood ever since.

A good buddy of mine and co-worker decided to catch happy hour — beer was in order. My buddy, @joeschai had the Victory Golden Monkey, a Philadelphia brew that he is more familiar with. It was full bodied and had a great taste. It made my beer seem like water.

Nachoes were on the happy hour menu and it was a great start. The nachos were quite standard though, and the pico de gallo and guacamole were fresh. I’m glad it didn’t have any chili or beans in it, but the cheese could have been more gooey. I am a fan of more of a cheese sauce than just melted cheddar on my nachos. That way, the cheese won’t harden and make it nearly impossible to enjoy. Other than that though, the nachos were quite nice.

The Buffalo-style Cauliflower was interesting. I felt we were ordering everything standard bar food. Beer, pizza, burger, and nachos? I wanted something to spice up our regular items and this seemed interesting enough. For a guy who hates cauliflower, this was a gamble. The cauliflower was a great blank vessel for the buffalo sauce. The most interesting part of this dish was the vegan “bleu cheese” dressing. Blue cheese was made of some kind of soy cheese. It tasted like plastic blocks, but the dressing itself was good. The dish was salty, zesty and full of flavor — not a bad veggie dish, fit for a vegetarian looking for some buffalo wings.

I appreciate a good pizza with a balance of flavors and textures. This flatbread had an amazing balance. The short rib and blue cheese gave the pizza a rich flavor to it. All was countered by the red onions and greens. The kicker was the smoked grapes. This gave it a nice subtle sweetness that this pizza needed. The balsamic reduction on top finished it off perfectly. The crust was decent — not all that great actually. The toppings helped with masking the shortcomings of the dough.

Every bar, gastropub, whatever you want to call it needs a burger. From all of their selections we opted for the one with bacon, short rib, and cheddar. The beef was nicely seared cooked to a medium. The beef was the star — the pure beef flavor from the patty and short rib shined through the burger. The bacon and everything else seemed like an afterthought. The bun was actually better than I thought. Though a burger isn’t a must order at Mohawk Bend, you wouldn’t be doing wrong by it.

I hate to say this, but the concept and interior design of it all is the most impressive part of Mohawk Bend. For them to have carried out a great interior with all of the amenities in a such a rundown property is amazing. Sorry to say though, the impressive interior is not reflected onto the food as well. Nothing I ate was amazing. The only thing that really stood out was the burger, and maybe their selection of beers. Other than that, their dishes were uninspired and boring. This may be a gem in Echo Park, but in the grand scheme of the City of Los Angeles, they are just “okay.” It was still great to catch up with my friend and coworker. Good company always makes things better.

Mohawk Bend on Urbanspoon

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Farmer Boys – Now that’s a Clean Burger

by Franklin on July 5, 2013

It seems to me that fast food isn’t really covered on my blog enough. For the sake of just having it on record, we can all agree that In-N-Out is the best fast food around, and possibly the best burger for your buck. Now, when it comes to burgers, and you want freshly made burgers that are genuine, Farmer Boys is a good start. Having only one location in Downtown Los Angeles, the majority of Farmer Boys are in the east of Los Angeles and Orange County. The experience was unique and a tasty one.

Their burgers are awesome. The simple nature of the double cheeseburger gave this a familiar and comforting feeling. Nothing pretentious, nothing out of the norm – I was just bread, meat, cheese, and lettuce and tomato. I tasted each and every ingredient perfectly. It is one of the cleanest cheeseburgers I’ve had in a while.

Sometimes, a man’s gatta have bacon. Tis’ the reason I ordered the bacon double cheeseburger. Perfect and simple just like the double cheeseburger, but with 2 unassuming slices of bacon. It gave the cheeseburger the extra saltiness and taste. I mean, it’s bacon. It is welcomed into my house any time of day.

The Chili cheese fries on the side was a must. The fries were pretty standard and the chili was better than expected. Eating this with the cheeseburger was an amazing mixture — Classic and delicious.

Farmer Boys gatta get their game up and make some more locations here in Los Angeles. Though they may not be worth the drive 10 miles east, or for the one in downtown, they are a good alternative of the fast food burger. Every ingredient is so pronounced and great on it’s own. You will never see them start creating wraps or some kind of crazy tortilla taco burger — no funny business here. Everything is classic Americana. Farmer Boys is quite underrated as a fast food joint. I don’t usually blog about fast food joints, but when I do, it’s Farmer Boys.

Farmer Boys on Urbanspoon

Farmer Boys on Urbanspoon

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First of all, I want to start off by saying that the Cosmopolitan is starting to irritate me. Everything that is the Cosmopolitan is now obnoxious and boring. The types of people the property attracts is just garbage — the bottom of the barrel. Don’t get me wrong. The building and architecture and design of it all is fantastic. LCD screens everywhere, hip little touches here and there make this property great. I just can’t stand how un-classically Vegas it is. They try so hard to be different, that in the end of it all, they lose themselves. The addition of Holsteins Shakes and Buns to the property is just the cherry on top. I heard ravenous reviews about Holsteins and I was excited to try this place. Things like, “the best burgers in Vegas,” and “I Love Love Love Hoslteins” were some of many glowing reviews. Here is my 2 cents.

The lobster mac and cheese was good, but not great. Surprisingly, the dish had a lot of lobster in it. Unfortunately, the lobster taste was lacking and the texture was not there as well. Lobster usually has a familiarly soft yet firm feeling when you bite it. Theirs was rubbery and lacked flavor. The truffle panko crust on top was nice, but the lack of lobster taste really disappointed me. My favorite part of this dish was the one chip on the side. It consisted of this lobster salad that was full of flavor.

Upon request, which I thought was complimentary, was popcorn. Though it wasn’t your ordinary popcorn, this one was flavored in some weird mixture. I read that it was truffle popcorn. Excited for some truffle infused popcorn, theirs was definitely not so. It was a mixture of a vinegary, buttery flavor that coated the popcorn. This was a weird mix and though not appetizing, I found myself reaching for the popcorn. I ate it, forgot how it tasted like, and then tried it again. The sting from the popcorn seasoning alone was enough for me not to eat it again. I guess my curiosity superseded my palate.

Quite possibly my favorite food, and naturally, the food I am most knit picking about, the burger is a classic. From the bun to the type of meat, and the almost infinite sauces and toppings you can put on, the burger is a great vessel to work with. With such an iconic item, at a restaurant that supposedly specializes in this stuff, you can’t mess it up.

And now, the Rising Sun burger — It had Kobe beef, teriyaki glaze, nori furikake, crispy yam, spicy mayo, & tempura avocado. Their take on a Japanese burger sounds good on paper. The fried avocado alone would make me happy. It was fried and crispy, and velvety smooth at the same time. I just didn’t have enough of it. That probably was the only thing good about this burger. Everything else was a mistake. First of all, what is wrong with this is the Kobe. I hate when restaurants advertise as serving Kobe when we all know most of that is just an American breed, if not, from Australia. Second of all, when you cook a “Kobe” beef burger, it has to be rare. Nothing else will do. What I got was all grey inside. The crust was overly marinated and glazed and turned the meat super dry, and the inside wasn’t any different. That is one way to kill an almost perfect burger. The teriyaki glaze was much too overwhelming and the crispy yam didn’t help with the cloyingly sweet flavors. Did I order the wrong burger? Maybe, but that still doesn’t make up for the overcooked patty.

If anything, the drunken monkey shake may have been the only thing that was considerably good. It had malted banana gelato and peanut butter crunch. The adult version has Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur from Italy. I opted out and went with just a regular. “You are in Vegas. Live a little!”, you say? In hind sight, maybe I should have made this shake alcoholic. It would have made me feel better about the sub-par meal I just had. Still though, the shake was sweet and the use of gelato made the shave quite delicate and smooth.

Pretentious, and yet casual, the restaurant has no identity. I just can’t associate this restaurant with good food. The same food could be served at a restaurant that looks like, maybe Johnny Rockets, with a lower price, and I still wouldn’t think twice about it. I mean, they have red and yellow squeeze bottles for ketchup and mustard. Come on! The food really needs an upgrade. How awesome would it be if finally, the Las Vegas Strip had a go-to burger spot that was hip, and of course, delicious? I think that is a home run and a much needed thing on the strip. I guess I just have to wait a couple years for that to happen. For now at the Cosmo, I guess Secret Pizza will have to do.

Holstein's on Urbanspoon

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The hot dog — it is such a simple thing, and everyone loves them. For me, I always liked it simple. A nice steamed bun, good quality all beef dog, and a little bit of mustard and onions – simple and delicious is all I needed. No ketchup please. Once I met Dog Haus in Alhambra, it all changed. I realized, new waves are coming through and my old school classic hot dog combination was no longer king. Dog Haus makes some crazy creations with both their hot dogs and burgers. Burgers being a close cousin to the hot dog, it was naturally an item on their menu. The best part about Dog haus is that their hot dog and hamburger buns are all made from King’s Hawaiian bread. Genius! The familiar bread rolls mixed with awesome ingredients make for good eats.

My whole life, all I knew was mustard and onions. Dog Hauses Old Town Dog changed my life and it changed the way I see hot dogs. This massive thing had a bacon wrapped 1/4 lb. dog, caramelized onions, sautéed spicy peppers, chipotle mayo, cotija cheese. Not only was it large in size, it was huge in flavor. The bacon wrapped hot dog was so LA, and so delicious. Smothered in caramelized onions, and spicy peppers, it had a nice crunch and bite to it. The chiopotle mayo gave it a nice smokey flavor and the cotija cheese was a nice touch in my opinion — it gave it that nice salty flavor and made everything perfect.

Put blue cheese on a burger, and call me happy. Add bacon on top of that, and you own me. The Blutarsky hands down has to be the best burger they offer. It’s not on their regular menu yet but I hope they put it on the menu permanently — this burger is bomb, my favorite Dog Haus burger hands down. I’m just a sucker for blue cheese, maybe that’s why. But this burger, with the patty, bacon, bleu cheese, and arugula, it has a great flavor. DO TRY. Blutarsky from Animal House, John Belushi’s character had a lot to do with this thing I suppose. Nonetheless, if you are a blue cheese fan, and a bacon lover, and just a fan of a good burger, get this one.

At Dog Haus, you can kind of guess that they like to do things a little different. They have fries, but why get regular fries when you can get tater tots! Yeah. Remember those yummy little nuggets of crunchy, greasy potato clusters? They got those! You can even put them in your pocket and eat them later (Napoleon Dynomite). All kidding aside, the tots were too reminiscent of elementary cafeteria days that they were impossible to dismiss. They were crunchy and crispy. I even dipped it in ketchup, and I’m not even a fan of ketchup. I guess holding onto that memory as a kid was more important.

Dog Haus is an awesome spot. Their food is familiar done in a radical and new way. I mean, the King’s Hawaiian buns are amazing in it of itself. The flavors are on point and the price is just right. Come here for exactly that — the Blutarsky, Old Town Dog, and tots. What more can you ask for?

Dog Haus on Urbanspoon

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After having my first Dog Haus experience at the Alhambra location, I had to see the place where they serve alcohol. The vibe inside is geared towards the drinking crowd. There were TVs everywhere, it’s dark, and there was alcohol everywhere. Not a big drinker by any means, I took advantage of their happy hour menu. I came here for the delicious sliders. I mean, making sliders on King’s Hawaiian bread is pretty standard nowadays, but Dog Haus seems to get it right each time.

Their sliders are so simple, but so delicious. I crave them. With only a beef patty, cheese, mayo, and grilled onions, these mini burgers don’t seem special, but they are. The beef patty is fully cooked all the way through, something I usually dislike. Surprisingly, the meat still retained its juciness. It was the juciest well done burger ever! You must be thinking to yourself, “well, that means it has a lot of fat”. Well, yes it was greasy, and it was delicious. The grilled onions were perfect as it gave it a nice crunch and savory flavor. Topped off with melted cheese, it was gooey and crunchy perfection — with a little mustard inside of course.

I was intrigued by their Grand Slam dog, so I ordered one. If the name doesn’t give it away, the Grand Slam dog is their rendition of a breakfast style hot dog. With bacon, hot dog, tater tots, and an egg, the whole thing was pretty much breakfast on top of a hot dog. It was tasty on its own, but together wasn’t anything special. The egg was awkward just sitting on top, and the bacon and hot dog clashed a bit. The addition of the tater tots, which were soggy inside, was just too much starch. A little sauce could have helped a lot on this, maybe I should have put some ketchup on top. I know, I hate putting ketchup on a hot dog. Maybe my stubbornness made this one not as tasty, but I will never put ketchup on a hot dog. Never!

One interesting thing I had was the sweet potato tots. If the name doesn’t suggest it enough, these are tater tots made with sweet potato. Genius! If sweet potato fries are popular, sweet potato tots are sure to be a hit. You know how sweet potato fries are never really that crunchy? The story doesn’t change for the tots. Though fried, it still never got crispy on the outside like their normal tater tots. It was a bit mushy and wet inside. The taste was very mild — not too sweet, not too savory. A nice sauce, maybe ranch or some kind of cinnamon pumpkin dip would have been perfect. Still worth a try I guess.

Having a Dog Haus in Alhambra was a blessing. I mean, yes, it is only a few minutes away, but the drive to Pasadena can be annoying. When you are in need of a drink though, Dog Haus Biergarten is the only one that serves alcohol. The atmosphere and vibe there is more about drinks than food, which isn’t a bad thing. They offer the same goodness as Dog Haus in Pasadena and Alhambra, but with the convenience of a bar. I’m sure there are a lot of happy hungry people out there.

Dog Haus Biergarten on Urbanspoon

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The Americana has a hefty amount of restaurants to choose from. Most are on the high end, a few are on the mid to low end. Granville aims to meet the upscale style and atmosphere with down to earth cuisine. I thought of it as a non commercialized Cheesecake Factory, though it sets itself up as chain. The design cues are similar to that of local gastropubs or high end restaurants, but the prices of the food are reasonable. I mainly come here for their blue cheese burger, a decent burger in the area. Other items though, I wasn’t not too fond of. Some might have to say that the food is a bit boring, and I would agree. Nothing really stands out. I mean, at least Cheesecake has some dang good cheesecakes. Bottom line is, the food is mediocre — there really isn’t a specialty here, and there isn’t a real cult following.

When I do come here, I get the Granville Bacon & Blue Burger. It is consistently tasty, and blue cheese is my weakness. Put blue cheese on almost anything, and I will like it. Made with 100% fresh, all-natural angus beef, the meat is the star. Applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions, organic arugula, blue cheese, and sautéed mushrooms join the party to make a decently juicy burger. The brioche is a perfect bun to hold everything together. Beef, bacon and blue cheese make this a very heavy burger. Home made potato chips come as a side, and is crispy and indulging, especially dipped in ranch. This burger is rich and juicy (fatty) and satisfies my burger needs.

I had a few bits of the ginger salad with shrimp. It had fresh organic spring greens, Asian slaw, soft soba noodles, avocados, mango, carrots, green onions, grape tomatoes and peanuts. This was all mix in with their Thai sesame dressing. The salad was interestingly tasty, and the dressing was light and flavorful. The great number of ingredients melded nicely together. I wasn’t a fan of the shrimp. It was cold and seemed under-cooked. Heavy seasoning and nice sear marks with everything cooked throughout would have made this dish a little more complete.

I tried their mac and cheese because, well, I am on the search for the best mac and cheese in Los Angeles. Though this wasn’t the best, it was still creamy and rich. The cheese flavor was present and the dish was impressive. I liked the touch of the basil on top for decor, though I ate it.

Granville at the Americana is a nicely decorated restaurant with good food. Though not a specialty restaurant, and more close with food from Cheesecake Factory than anywhere else, the restaurant can still surprise you. Their ingredients taste fresher, more organic. Other places, the dish itself may be good, but each individual ingredient cannot stand on its own. Granville strives to use only the freshest ingredients, try to use only organically grown ingredients wherever possible. After a little shopping or window shopping for my case, Granville is a nice detour from everything.

Granville Casual Gourmet Cafe on Urbanspoon

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There comes a time when you turn from a boy to a man. For me, that time was when I ordered an actual meal from McDonald’s instead of a happy meal. As a kid, the happy meal was the obvious choice. You got your burger and fries with a drink, and a toy to play with right after. After growing up a bit, you looked at all of the grown ups eating Big Macs, and wished you had one too. Deep inside, you wanted to satisfy your hunger for once and opt for the larger meal, but the happy meal toy was just too sweet to pass up. That day you ditched the cheap toy for a Big Mac was the day you turned into a man, so you thought. 20 odd years later, you discover a new right of passage. The G Burger at G Burger makes the Big Mac turn into a kids meal. The burger has 2 of everything virtually, and honestly, it is the largest burger I ever purchased.

The list of ingredients go on forever — 1001 sauce (secret sauce), tomato, red onion, teryiaki glazed onions, portobello mushrooms, homemade slaw, grilled pineapple, fried egg, deli pastrami, avocado, angus chili, bacon, jalapenos. They even add an extra patty for free, if you want it. In my head, why freakin not add the extra patty? So yes, I would like the extra patty. Definately too big to fit in my mouth, it was a task. Dripping with juices, fats, and oils, I didn’t want to find out the amount of calories or the nutrition facts. Their high rise buns just soak up the grease — thankfully, their organic vegetables helped a little. The strategy for attack? I just closed my eyes, and ate. The flavor of everything was overwhelming. A little sweet from the pineapples, savory from the meats, and spicy from the jalapenos. It was just a flavor parade to say the least.

But Franklin, was it the best burger ever? No. It had too much going on. It was just meat and cheese piled on with more meat and more ingredients. It was good, but not the best. I will definately have to try one of their more tamed burgers. I also wouldn’t mind trying their sides (fries and onion rings) next time I go. The restaurant definately knows what they are doing. With an open kitchen, and knowledgeable staff, the establishment is more of a sit down than a hole in the wall burger joint. There is something special here, and it is the G Burger’s size. Does finishing it turn you into a man? Of course. But those who are already men can split it in half with their girlfriends. Just saying.

Gburger on Urbanspoon

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Jewel City Diner – Standard Issue Burgers and Fries

May 12, 2012

I am pretty sure someone mentioned that Jewel City Diner had good burgers. Maybe I was hearing things. I always told myself, “I can’t wait to try it and see what all the fuss is about”. Well, whoever implanted that thought in my head, I am forever mad at you. After a day of shopping [...]

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Monkey Business Cafe – Good for the Tummy, Good for the Community

March 22, 2012

I passed by this place many times, and it never appealed to me as a nice place to eat. The outside doesn’t look like a restaurant, and the word monkey doesn’t sound tasty. There is something special about Monkey Business Cafe — they are for non-profit. All of their proceeds go to Hart Community Homes. [...]

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The Counter – This Is My Burger, The Way I Want It

February 17, 2012

Build your own burger.  That is The Counter way.  You sit down and fill out a form.  Yes.  You build your own burger and they bring it to you exactly how you want it. You want eggs? You got it.  You want a different kind of cheese?  You don’t want pickles? That’s cool.  The Counter [...]

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Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurant – Olden Days Makes Way For Opening Day

January 8, 2012

Remember the olden days? Well, my olden days are like the late 80s, early 90s. I mean before then, like the 60s and 70s. Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlours was booming. Starting from Portland, Oregon, the restaurants were an old time favorite. After being bought out and sold again, they are making a come back in [...]

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Tommy’s Original Hamburger – Chili And Cheese All Over My Face

December 24, 2011

This is where it all started. Beverly and Rampart — this was the birthplace of the the Original Tommy’s hamburger. Tom Koulax founded Tommy’s in 1946, and the rest is history. Their menu hasn’t changed much. Chili burgers, being their signature item, is what I always get. Can’t mess with a classic. There are a [...]

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BLT Burger (Mirage) – Lamb’n It Up With Some Waffle Fries

December 9, 2011

The burger in it of itself is a classic.  More than a sandwich, it is a complete meal all in the grasp of your hands.  It is safe to say that everyone has had a lot of burgers in their life time — it is a go to item at any restaurant.  BLT Burger, located [...]

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