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Burb's Eye View: And, finally, the best cheeseburgers in town

July 10, 2013
  • A sampling of Burbank burgers, from left (top row): Fantasia Billiards, Granville Caf, Champs, DeBell Golf Course, Apollo Char-Burger; (middle row): Not a Burger Stand, Rocky's III, Tinhorn Flats, Peacha's, Norm's, Bob's Big Boy; (bottom row): Willie's Grill, Caf Victory, Moores Delicatessen, Mo's, The Great Grill, Burbank Bar and Grille.
A sampling of Burbank burgers, from left (top row): Fantasia… ( Bryan Mahoney and…)

This is the third installment in a three-part series.

Last Thanksgiving, while most of us were at home preparing our turkey and mashed potatoes, newly minted restaurateur Matt Peek was teaching himself how to cook.

In that one day, he crafted recipes for the fledgling menu at Not A Burger Stand, a Riverside Drive hangout in the rancho district. Fortunately for the burger-loving public, the name is ironic.

For just $5.75 Peek offers a nicely cooked patty with mild onions, some simple French’s mustard and two melted creamy slices of Swiss cheese. It is mouthwatering, it is a delicate balance of meat and accessories, and it is delicious in its simplicity.

“That’s as classic as you get. No point in messing with the good stuff,” Peek said.

This burger is among the best in Burbank, a city with a satisfyingly large pool of places that offer truly welcome spins on the traditional American burger.

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For three months, Jack Swiker of thedangersandwich.blogspot.com and I waded through some truly terrible cheeseburgers, neck-deep in watery mayo and overly chunky lettuce wafers. We were then beached on solid ground with char-broiled sandwiches at some of Burbank’s longest-running burger joints. Today, we venture to the golden temple of the fatty, melty goodness of Burbank’s best.

Peek’s homage to simplicity is closely edged out by the buttery hickory burger at Hook Burger and Bistro in the Empire Center. The star is the beef patty, a slightly small concoction that packs a lot of taste.

This neo-chic restaurant aces the burger basics, but competes with two other Burbank hot spots in its presentation of gooey cheddar, crispy onion straws and salty smoky bacon.

Tinhorn Flats on Magnolia Avenue as well as Hollywood Way Barbecue, Bar and Grill (on Hollywood Way, naturally) also produce spins on the hickory burger with better results. Tinhorn’s Western Burger is so tall it might as well come with its own fire escape.

A generously layered mix of onion rings, crispy bacon and 8 ounces of beef, it is bound by a tangy barbecue sauce that tickles the back of your tongue though never quite steals the show from the beef and bacon.

Tinhorn gets its ingredients from nearby Handy Market, adding a satisfying freshness to what may be the best burger deal in Burbank — it’s just $7 on Tuesdays and any day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (otherwise, it’s $9).

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