Cuisine Scene: Burgers
There are few food items as simple and straightforward as the hamburger; that is, until you consider the near-countless ways they are prepared and enjoyed in Long Beach. That’s not surprising, considering this is one of the most diverse and exciting dining cities in the country. The kind of place you can enjoy a burger with bacon jam, gouda fondue, pickled jalapeno or sans meat while eating at a bistro, bar, vegan restaurant or golf course.
Carved from the bones of a 1920s craftsman home, The Attic (3441 E Broadway) has built one of the largest, most loyal followings in the city by offering sophisticated takes on comfort food, perhaps none more famous than its Mac & Cheetos, a mac and cheese dish made with flaming hot Cheetos. Its Attic Burger is another prime example of sophisticated comfort, with ground beef sitting on a house made benne seed bun and topped with cheddar and American cheese as well as a tangy remoulade sauce as well as requisite onions, pickles and iceberg lettuce. Ahhhhh.
THE SOCIAL LIST
A popular people-watching spot on Retro Row, The Social List (2105 E. Fourth St.) is well-known for fresh, inventive takes on well-known items. Perhaps its slate of self-proclaimed “Best Burgers in the LBC” is the best example of this, especially the Napoleon and Geisha burgers. The Napoleon starts with a base of both handmade beef patty and braised short rib paired with crispy onion and smoked gouda fondue. The Geisha starts with Wagyu beef blended with yuzu mayonnaise and Japanese spiced chili. You can get either of them with either a salad or garlicky shoestring fries. Word to the wise: Go garlicky!
The mission of this fun, downtown bar/restaurant is to pay homage to the traditional American tavern, and is there anything more time-honored, more fun than a burger and beer? The Just Your Ordinarie Burger looks fairly traditional until you realize the Thousand Island dressing is house made and those are pickled jalapenos dancing on your tongue along with some sweet caramelized onions. Pair this with The Ordinarie’s (210 Promenade N.) fantastic, fat French Fries and pair it all with some great local beers from such acclaimed local brewers such as Ambitious Ales, Beachwood Brewing and Ficklewood Cider.
Located in the East Village Arts District, this hip locale – connected directly to iconic music store Fingerprints – serves an eye-catching, lip-smacking mix of finger foods, healthy choices and vegan pastries, not to mention some bold brews, both coffee and beer. Tying it all together is that Berlin (420 E. Fourth St.) is well known for great food featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients, its Berlin Burger being a perfectly delicious example of this: ground sirloin steak paired with artisanal smoked bacon, avocado, arugula and white cheddar on a brioche bun.
Granted, when you find yourself at one of Long Beach’s premiere seafood restaurants, a burger is not necessarily the first thing that jumps to mind. But Parkers' Lighthouse (435 Shoreline Village Dr.) serves something called its Garlic Cheese Bread Burger and its unique and delicious enough to consider giving it a shot. It’s fairly simple–eight ounce, ground beef/brisket, tomato, house-made pickles–until they smother it with the topper: two slices of Parkers' delectable garlic cheese toast, oozing flavor all over the creation. If you still feel odd about not getting seafood, “Smash It” by adding a crab cake.
What is perhaps most impressive about one of Long Beach’s most respected vegan restaurants, is that people so infrequently refer to it as a vegan restaurant. Seabirds Kitchen (975 E. Fourth St.) is just a great place to eat, famous for a great brunch and great staples such as their burgers. The Beets Me Burger comes with a house-made shitake, beet and chia patty, topped with almond butter, grilled onions, arugula, dill pickles and herb mayo served on a brioche bun. Its BBQ Burger features a house-made patty of its own, washed with Kansas style barbecue sauce and topped with fried pickled onions, american cheese, pickles and herb mayo.
THE CROOKED DUCK
This beloved neighborhood bistro serves a wide swath of burgers, from bacon to black bean avocado veggie, turkey to vegan, cheddar to gorgonzola, but at some point you have to try out the Fritos Chili Cheddar Burger, which is exactly, thankfully, what it sounds like. The Crooked Duck (5096 Pacific Coast Hwy.) serves a 100% natural beef patty covered with Texas chili, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and then, deep breath, a handful of crunchy Fritos chips. It’s crisp, it’s crunchy and every bite reveals a new explosion of flavor.
Believe it or not, the burger making a big noise these days is made in a small cafe located on the deck of the Bixby Village Golf Course. Crack (6180 Bixby Village Dr.) serves the kind of burgers you normally get at backyard barbecues. The meaty pattys aren’t overly round or handled. They come off the grill rightly charred and in all manner of geometric shapes that leave lots of cracks and crevices to trap flavor. Their very popular bacon jam is added to some creations, hatch chiles are also popular. And don’t worry, you don’t have to golf, about 80% of Crack customers come strictly for the food.