Whiz – Los Angeles, CA

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

The Vitals:
the burger: “the P Dub” 6oz Hormone free Angus Beef topped with American and Tillamook sharp cheddar, in house sriracha dressing, fried shallots and micro cilantro
the bucks: $7.95
the coordinates: Los Angeles, CA

Musicians know a thing or two about dining on a dime. So after finding out that Executive Chef Wes Lieberher played in bands for years before putting both feet into the world of professional cooking, a clichéd chin rub and and “aha” soon followed suit. Whiz is Chef Leiberher’s second effort after the founding of Beer Belly, his much celebrated Gastropub in Koreatown. If I had to simplify my passionate and periphrastic exploration of Bang for your Burger Buck into two camps, one would be called “cheap ass burger stands” and the other would be “yup, another gastropub“. Bawdy camp titles and elitist words like “periphrastic” aside, a sincere point is to be made here: skilled chefs who choose to serve up their skills at a reasonable rate, have been a blessing in our current Culinary Era. Gastropubs, in my opinion, should be partially subsidized by the Federal government as the increased availability of good food to the masses can only improve our overall health, making us more productive citizens, thereby elevating society at large. The occasional duck fat fry is far better than the binging of super sized frites while navigating a drive thru. If you love food and live within a budget, than the the phrase “gastropub” should evoke not a sarcastic eye roll but a slow rolling tear drop that signifies the rise of America as an enlightened Super Power of 21st Century.

Ok, enough of all that. Let’s talk about burgers.

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Bill’s Hamburgers – Los Angeles, CA

Burgers, Los Angeles, West Coast By February 26, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger:   double cheeseburger with bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and mayonnaise
the bucks: $6.30
the coordinates: Los Angeles, CA

Recently a friend told me that if you do one thing for six years, you will become an expert at doing that thing. Bill Elwell has been making burgers for 50 years. That would make him an expert at cooking burgers eight times over. Do enough digging on the internet about Bill’s Hamburgers and you will find that the legend of his burgers are in fact superseded by the legend of the man himself. His salty demeanor, his five marriages, really his age alone allows the Bill’s Hamburgers experience to live up to the hype before you even take your first bite. Oh, and wait you will for that first bite. And we, the loyalists and devotees to Bill’s Hamburgers, are happy to do so. We gladly wait for one of seven stools to open up so we can wait some more to catch the attention of the person taking orders, so we can really settle in and wait and wait, till Bill Elwell makes us a perfect burger. The burgers are always perfect because of that wait. It’s a pace that has been 50 years in the making and it is exactly what makes Bill’s Hamburgers a temple for Bang for your Burger Buck.

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Pete’s Blue Chip – Los Angeles, CA

Burgers, Los Angeles, West Coast By February 12, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger:  
the blue chip” – a double cheeseburger served up club style with three bun slices, american cheese, house made special sauce, mayonnaise, shredded lettuce, sliced onion and tomato 
the other burger: 4 oz chargrilled patty with avocado, bacon, shredded lettuce, pickle and house made thousand island
the bucks: $3.92, $6.54 respectively
the coordinates: Los Angeles, CA

Maybe you have heard of Blue Chip Stocks. If you haven’t, allow me to give you a quick wiki economics 101: Blue Chip stocks represent the companies that are considered to be the most dependable and steadily profitable, they are the ones that keep the ship steady in good times and not so good times. They become the indicators of how the market itself is performing. If they go down, then the whole system is in serious trouble. These companies are often followed as a group, which is called the Dow Jones Industrial Average. If ever there was a burger joint that deserved to be on the Dow Jones Index, well how appropriate that the burger joint should happened to be named “Pete’s Blue Chip.”

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Teo Bar and Grill – San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico

Burgers By January 30, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger:
cheddar and oaxacan cheeseburger with fries
the bucks: $135 pesos($9.21 at current exchange rate)
the coordinates: san jose del cabo, mexico

Food is a pretty big damn deal down in Old Mexico. It’s a huge reason why I have traveled there 7 times in the last 8 years. Take in the fact that this is a country of 31 states(32 if you count Mexico City) and you’ve only just begun to crack the textbook on understanding the foodscape of our great neighbor to the south. And then you have to consider that Mexico City is as global a metropolis as they get; meaning they can rep major cuisines from all over the world and all over Mexico. Despite how much we might misunderstand and misinterpret America’s #1 ethnic cuisine, they sure do get us; which is why in tourists havens like Cabo San Lucas, burgers abound. But there are still cardinal eating rules that I follow and as I’m sure you know if you frequent Bang for your Burger Buck, not all burger are created equal. Typically when I’m traveling in foreign lands I try my best to eat as the locals do. Down in Baja that means eating as much seafood as I can get my hands on, from taco stands that cab drivers frequent like Taqueria Rossy, hitting up a random seafood shack for the highly acclaimed live chocolate clam, or venturing down a dirt road that dead ends into a beach to buy a fresh catch of baby yellowfin tuna. But Baja can pull off more than just seafood, case in point: Teo Bar and Grill, where the organic beef being cooked over smoldering mesquite will have you drooling about burgers as much as one of those bowls of stunningly fresh seabass ceviche.

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The Fatburger Edition

Burgers By January 16, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger:
 double medium with mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onions, relish, and mustard 
the bucks: $7.63
the coordinates: tested in Los Angeles, CA (with locations across the country and globe)

Welcome to Bang for your Burger Buck: The Fatburger Edition. Long cherished in Los Angeles, thanks in no small part to Ice Cube’s “Today was a Good Day”, Fatburger sometimes falls in the shadows of some formidable burger competition like the ever affordable In N Out, or the top shelf concept burger empire, Umami. It’s never easy being the middle child I guess, just ask Jan Brady, but believe me when I tell you that there is Bang for your Burger Buck to be had at this middle of the road burger temple. You will have to chart a careful course through a menu riddled with costly add ons like that black vat of tepid chili that seems to be lingering for the late night drunk crowd, confusing size options like XXXL that bring to mind memories of Ice Cube’s stint as an Action star more so than the weight of a burger patty, and then there are those legitimately tempting milkshakes. But rest assured, my friends, for I have plotted the perfect course around these tragic topping obstacles and sadly, you will have to get one of those tempting milkshakes on another visit. But it’s gonna be ok, because the double medium burger with every house topping delivers real deal Bang for your Burger Buck.

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Carl’s Drive In – St. Louis, MO

Burgers, Midwest By January 5, 2015 No Comments

The Vitals:
the burger: griddled triple cheeseburger with bacon, lettuce and tomato
the bucks: $6.80
the coordinates: St. Louis, MO

To dine at Carl’s Drive In is as fundamental an American dining experience as having a Nathan’s Dog on Coney island, or parking yourself at a roadside stand in Mississippi for some BBQ. The parking lot is studded with soccer moms who have, perhaps under mild duress from their cargo of adolescent athletes, made a pit stop after practice. The customers are as well seasoned as the griddle that churns out the burgers. To sit on one of those ten treasured bar stools in this tiny restaurant is as much an American rite of passage as was passing through Ellis Island in the beginning of the 20th Century. If ever there was a burger stand whose humble and compact interior could draw parallels to Sukiyobashi Jiro, then it truly must be Carl’s Drive In, nestled in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. Yup, I really do love this place and so far all I have brought up is the freakin ambiance.

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