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Burb's Eye View: In search of Burbank's best burger

June 26, 2013|By Bryan Mahoney

I have seen the mountaintop and it is layered thick in cheese and beef.

Since March my friend and I scoured Burbank for the best cheeseburger in the city. Many readers offered their favorite haunts — and some griddle jockeys I met along the way pointed me to new stops on the path to burger Nirvana.

Like all great adventures, it’s about the journey, not the destination. In my ground-beef-laden stupor I discovered a culinary subculture that revels in the art of the burger. Burbank history is deeply slathered in the wizardry of its burger bon vivants — the places people went 20, 30, 40 years ago are still flipping for your pleasure.

People hold fast to their favorites. One restaurant’s entire clientele exists because its members followed the owner when he moved. Several hole-in-the-wall diehards accepted no substitute for their local watering hole. Burbank’s burger joints function as neighborhood hangouts, nostalgia repositories and off-campus studio cafeterias.

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We visited 20 different spots that weren’t chain restaurants or diners. We searched high — well-known places like Tinhorn Flats and Mo’s — and we searched low, where we found a griddle in a liquor store and a burger at a deli.

In all, Jack Swiker of thedangersandwich.blogspot.com and I mowed down 23 different stacks of bread, meat and cheese totaling a little more than $175.

Burgering in Burbank is a lot like watching baseball — there are your major leagues, your AAA clubs supported by the hometown crowd, and then there are the rest. These latter joints have their followers and could graduate to the next level with some changes, but otherwise don’t justify their $8 (on average) price tags.

So this week, we’ll look at the burgers that didn’t quite make the cut.

Cheeseburger math is a simple ratio — we rated meat, cheese, bread and condiments as the whole experience. The best chefs can dole out each taste in a measure appropriate to their strengths and weaknesses, but in the end you should at least be able to experience all components at some time.

Knowing that, we timidly approached the peanut-butter-and-Thousand-Island concoction at The Great Grill on San Fernando Boulevard.

The $7.75 Nutty Burger is presented on a fluffy, traditional sesame seed bun and for its unique composition, it’s almost disappointing that the peanut butter gets lost between the dressing, ample stack of lettuce and flat burger patty.

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