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Cassel’s Hamburgers

Burgers, Los Angeles By August 31, 2018 Tags: , , No Comments

The Vitals:
the spot: Cassel’s Hamburgers 3600 W. 6th St Los Angeles CA 90020
the eats: Cheeseburger featuring 1/3lb Meyer Angus Beef with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and Thousand Island dressing
the bucks: $11.75
the full nelson: A burger sequel that is better than the original

Once upon a time hamburgers were a simple affair. The very best ones were anointed so mostly because of the size and quality of the beef. Cassel’s Hamburgers was such a place, especially in its first four decades of service(1948-1998), when it was considered the best in town by the likes of Pulitzer Prize winning author Jonathan Gold, legendary food writer Calvin Trillin, Jane and Michael Stern among other luminaries. By the time I came around to visiting Cassel’s in the early 2000s I suspect the glory days were in the rearview mirror. Though sold by original owner Al Cassel in the 1990s, the torch was supposedly passed to good people. Sadly my experience was less Los Angeles Burger icon and more “I think I just died and went to Fuddruckers”. By the time I tried Cassel’s, Los Angeles was in the early stages of a burger Renaissance and Cassel’s Hamburgers seemed like a fading burger relic.


On Air with Ryan Seacrest featuring my favorite Cheap Eats in LA!

Cheap Eats, Los Angeles By July 26, 2017 Tags: , , No Comments

I’m gonna be so real right now: I was straight STAR STRUCK to call into Ryan Seacrest. The adrenaline was flowing and I just went with it – I think it worked!

If you watch Cheap Eats, read this blog or peep my Instagram you know tacos and burgers are going to be in the mix. Well we also found love for a creamy cake, Italian cold cuts and hey – listening is better than reading so check out my picks for Cheap Eats in Los Angeles via On Air with Ryan Seacrest here!



Burgerlords – Los Angeles, CA

Burgers, Los Angeles, West Coast By February 25, 2016 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: two patties of a custom triple cut grass fed beef blend, on a sponge bun with lettuce, tomato, onion and thousand island dressing and american cheese
the bucks: $7
the coordinates: Los Angeles, CA

Last night I dreamt about Zankou Chicken. For those of you who are ignorant to the work of Beck, or happened to have never called LA home, Zankou Chicken is one of those dirty bird chains blessed from the Gods. A Lebanese-Armenian take on the typical fare one finds in a fast casual Middle Eastern/Mediterranean, order at the counter kinda spot. The place not only fed me for my 20s and some of my 30s, but it also served as my first introduction to cheap eats staples like shawerma, falafel and hummus. When you eat at a place for a decade, you can catch off days. And truth be told there were better(albeit pricier) renditions of Lebanese Armenian throughout LA, but I always kept coming back. Now I’m 8 months away from Zankou Chicken and the city that chicken shack calls home, and it doesn’t take Sigmund Freud to tell me that my belly is a little homesick. Which brings me to the burger at hand: a straight outta Los Angeles, in the style of In-N-Out, flat top griddled stackable burger. Fast food in design but not in the ingredients. A burger style that is the standard-bearer of burgers in SoCal. A brilliant design whose appeal to youth certainly carries over into the kind of adult who responds to questions like “Is In-N-Out good?” with a “oh dude, you just don’t know . . .” When I arrived in Los Angeles some 20 years ago I tried In-N-Out and just never got what all the fuss was about. But now, 8 months removed from a 20 year sentence in Southern California, I look back with fondness on the style, and in the case of Burgerlords, I have my own version of In-N-Out that is worthy of some pontification. And pontificate I shall.


Belcampo Meat Company – Los Angeles, CA

Burgers, Los Angeles, West Coast By August 19, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: Double Fast Burger: two 3oz patties of enlightened grass fed beef, house made American cheese, custom burger sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion
the bucks: $8
the coordinates: Los Angeles, CA

One of the most compelling debates on how to make great food erupted perfectly on Twitter a few years ago between Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert over which factor was more significant: technique or ingredient. Bourdain’s argument for technique sort of “won”, as he pointed out that whole cuisines developed around humbling circumstance thereby elevating “lesser” ingredient into what we now know as American Soul Food or Countryside French. Ripert’s retorts for the case of ingredient highlighted the fact that in the food world of today, Chef’s who demonstrate good technique have an almost unparalleled access to fine ingredient, making the debate somewhat moot: Technique and Ingredient are equally significant though don’t always exist in perfect harmony.

The debate haunts my mind with every great meal I encounter. Few times is there true balance between technique and ingredient, and when it comes to Bang for your Burger Buck, often it is technique that is taking the spotlight. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying this fine debate but ingredient comes down to bucks, and saving a few means technique has to step up. There are loads of excellent burgers that I don’t cover and the reason is price. Though I don’t want to think of Bang for your Burger Buck as a “$10 and under club”, it kind of is. Because of this journey that is driven by value, of feeling compelled to make “the find”, I have deprived both you and I, the pleasure of encountering and documenting an “ingredient” driven burger. Until now. After visiting many a burger joint, primarily in Los Angeles, I have come to a place where I am overwhelmed to make the following declaration: the Fastburger at Belcampo Meat Company is the best Bang for your Burger Buck in Los Angeles. Yup, I said it. I don’t do the stars thing – every burger in here is a case for value, but the Belcampo Fastburger is the best deal in town and this is because the burger embodies the balance of excellent technique and superb ingredient. Even crazier than making that kind of contentious “throw down the gauntlet” kind of statement is that the sheer greatness of this burger, the Bang for your Burger Buck, does not stem from the quest of making a great burger but rather from the philosophy of sustainable food. Ethical farming seldom enters the forum of Bang for your Burger Buck but exemptions are made when a burger tastes this good. Add to that an asking price of $8, and this double cheeseburger is an exception welcomed with jaws and wallets, wide open.


Hinano Cafe – Los Angeles, CA

Burgers, Los Angeles, West Coast By May 15, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: double cheeseburger with house toppings(lettuce, tomato, red onion)
the bucks: $8.50
the coordinates: Venice Beach, CA(12 miles west of Los Angeles)

It has been said that etiquette may well be a thing of the past. And perhaps images of young men holding open doors for the elderly or school children rising when a teacher enters a classroom are indeed as frozen in time as those crude etchings of Wooly Mammoths found in the caves of Southern France. Contrary to this notion, I do believe that, in certain instances of modern context, etiquette still does occur, though in ways that may seem more subtle or unexpected to our forbears. Take for instance the dive bar. That hallowed home away from home where the working man or woman spends some quality time and dollars, in libation and revelry, with fellow working men and women. A place where convenience, affordability and joy intersect. The dive bar is more than just a bar, it is a pseudo private club for the blue collared. They are places that are claimed, that are deserved of our loyalty. It would be poor etiquette to covet another man’s dive bar. Therefore I cannot honestly claim Hinano as my own because it aint in my hood. I am no beach dweller, and it may well be at least a lifetime or two till the day when I can afford to hang my hat walking distance to the beach. But I can visit. I can pay to park so I can essentially pay to put my feet in the sand. And since I have an hour or two left on my meter, I might as well go crush a burger.


Super Burger – Los Angeles, CA

Burgers, Los Angeles, West Coast By April 30, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: 7.5oz bacon cheeseburger with house toppings(lettuce, tomato, thousand island dressing)
the bucks: $6
the coordinates: Pasadena, CA(14 miles northeast of Los Angeles)

Eating alone is a fascinating thing to observe. In the modern era, thanks to smartphones and social media, I suppose we never are really alone. All the Twitter followers and Facebook friends in the world can’t mask that lone diner. The lone diner is certainly more common in certain venues as the likelihood of spotting one dropping $300 on a tasting menu at Alinea seems far less likely than catching one at a roadside stand for a $1 taco. Regardless of a venue’s pomp and price, or a menu crafted from foie gras or frankfurter, watching a diner eat alone is captivating. Captivating because of our own imaginations and the questions that pop in our heads. Who is she? What does he does he do? Does he live alone? One would assume certain professions would embrace eating alone. Spies, Vigilantes, certain Super Heroes. Travis Bickle definitely ate some meals solo. Paul Kersey too. While a mohawked Robert DeNiro would be tough to picture at Super Burger in Pasadena, I could buy a Charles Bronson circa 1974, sitting alone, getting a day’s worth of calories in one sitting, before looking for trouble on a subway platform. After all being a Vigilante means you work ’round the clock and best to get a full belly in one sitting whenever possible. Which brings us to a bacon cheeseburger with the most bacon I have seen on a cheeseburger, or a lumberjack breakfast special for that matter.