Bright Lights Big City, Real Tan Fake Titties: I hail from a quaint oceanside village called Long Beach, California. You may know it as the city that brought you Snoop Dogg, sailor tattoos, and the street scenes in every action movie ever. I visit once or twice a year to remind myself why I moved, but my last visit left me with an excess of feels - the feels that make it particularly hard to bail. In and Out Burgers may have contributed to some of those feels.
I traveled from the warm beaches of Hermosa to the rich hipster paradise of Silverlake all the way to back to the cacophonous streets of dowtown Long Beach and no joke I ate a lot of burgers. The results are in; here are the best burgers I ate on my Smog Angeles adventure:
Umami Burger: Everybody and their momma wanted to get me to Umami Burger... 5 years ago. I'm obviously too cool (or dorky- they're the same thing now, right?) to be on trend, plus I live 1,500 miles away, but hallelujah! I finally made it there half a decade after I first heard about it.
Umami, for the uninitiated, refers to the satisfying mouth feel of meat, or any other dense, savory protein. It calls to mind certain satisfaction. A sense of "yum". Umami Burgers are aptly named, not just for the flavorful beef of their patties, but for the deliberate composition of their cleverly constructed burgers. There is a lot of "yum" happening here.
The classic Umami Burger (shown here) consists of shiitake mushroom, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp, and a house ketchup. Depending on your way of looking at burgers, it may seem basic, or it may seem over-thought. I assure you, it is both, and therein lies Umami Burger's genius. It's essentially a cheese burger with grilled onion and mushrooms, but it's on some next level sh*t. If low brow in the key of high concept is your bag, and you find yourself in Los Angeles or NYC it's worth your while to seek out an Umami Burger. Visit www.Umami.com for locations
Church gave me immediate religion shivers- but I poured one of their craft brews down my neck and was all, "Bring me a burger, Satan! Also, get behind me!" Pictured here is their signature Turkey Burger, because variety! Served on a lightly toasted english muffin, (a style that I was first introduced to at Dig A Pony) and topped with a roasted tomato, caramelized white onion, wild bitter greens and some fancy aioli, the picture does not do it any kind of justice. The turkey patty- notoriously easy to dry out into a cardboard mockery of a burger- was moist and seasoned with a sweeter, less savory profile than a traditional beef burger. And though I could have done with a tad more brown on that muffin, I was too happy to be scarfing a burger on my beloved hometown's sparking Promenade to really care. Your experience may vary. Visit Congregation Alehouse online. I understand their pretzels are also the jam.
Hey, chill out. Of course I’m going to talk about the secret menu. What am I, new here?
In and Out has the same limited menu it had the day it opened; Burger, Cheeseburger, Double Double (as in double meat double cheese-get in my mouth double time!), french fries, ice cream shakes and a slew of sodas. BUT, if you are a person in the know, you can make your double double a 3x3, 4x4 ad infitum, you can go animal style, go protein style (thank you LA diet jagoffs), make your fries extra American and insane by adding 1000 island dressing, cheese and grilled onion. I mean, the list goes on and on- anyone willing to do a Google search on “secret In and Out menu” is going to be richly rewarded for their burger sleuthing.
In summation; EAT THIS BURGER, DAMNIT. WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.
Afterword: I know that Los Angeles has many, many fantastic burgers. These were the best burgers of the burgers that were most convenient for me to eat. One day I will make a trip down south for no reason other than eating burgers all day every day for a couple of days (because any more than a couple of days will probably kill me). PS, any LA readers who are planning a trip to PDX, holler at me and I will blow your burger socks off.