L.A. Burger Tour | Umami Burger

An unscientific survey of some of L.A.’s best burgers. Jonah and Palmer – the gents from Aether (who are friends, clients and advertisers on ACL) – and I decided to visit five (or so) burger destinations while I am on my left coast tour. The first stop, Umami Burger, was a place many had highly recommended. We met up at the outpost on La Brea for lunch and Umami did not disappoint.

My choice was the “Manly Burger,” which consisted of a beef patty on a brioche with onion strings, cheddar and chunks of bacon. Good lord, it was amazing. The combination of what must have been a butter soaked bun with the meat, cheese and onions was juicy and delicious. The burger isn’t huge in size (but definitely adequate) and surprisingly not overly rich. I pared the burger with some hand cut fries (which I didn’t love; skinny fries seemed the better choice), a Mexican Coke and you pretty much are golden. Jonah pointed out that he thinks the calorie count is somewhere in the 1200 range and I don’t doubt it. Looks like I have a hike (or 10) at Runyon Canyon in my future. And if you don’t care about your heart or your waistline, Umami even has an ice cream sandwich on the menu for dessert.

We shall see how Umami measures up against our other competitors, but I have to think their burger will hold its own versus anyone, East or West Coast.

The Manly Burger
Mexican Coke
Hand cut fries

Comments on “L.A. Burger Tour | Umami Burger

    Bateman on April 14, 2010 5:46 PM:

    Oh man, these pictures actually made my toes wiggle. Thanks!

    marcel on April 14, 2010 5:49 PM:

    Good choice on the food. So what are the other hamburger joints you plan on hitting here in LA? Off the top of my head the obvious places to go are:

    Golden State
    Father’s Office
    Apple Pan

    other places that are usually mentioned:

    8 oz
    25 degrees

    sounds like a good way to structure your trip.

    frank booth on April 14, 2010 5:56 PM:

    i’d advise you hit HOLE IN THE WALL in west LA

    MTV3 on April 14, 2010 6:07 PM:

    Umami Burger is OK. a little salty for my taste. Father’s Office is the best in LA and if you want it on the cheap try a Tommy’s Original.

    richjmay on April 14, 2010 7:48 PM:

    Father’s Office is incredible.

    Ben on April 14, 2010 8:25 PM:

    Grill Em All burger truck! Support your Cleveland transplants.

    Rick Steamboat on April 14, 2010 8:45 PM:

    While it’s somewhat of a tourist trap, Lucky Devil’s kicks on Father’s Office any day of the week. True. Story.

    marco on April 14, 2010 8:55 PM:

    +1 on Father’s Office.

    Also, check out the Counter in Santa Monica.

    Tsew Remlap on April 14, 2010 8:56 PM:

    Do not do this tour without stopping at a classic. “Irv’s Burger” on Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood. Place is a certified historic landmark and the cut the fries, as well as the beef patty, are made to order. Think awesome without the overtly fancy toppings and look at how fabulous I am crowd. Just good food that is in a league of its own… Has been for years.

    Kyle on April 14, 2010 10:16 PM:

    Pie ‘N Burger in Pasadena is a must…don’t just stop at all the Nouveau burger places.

    Christina on April 14, 2010 10:31 PM:

    My boyfriend and I did our own LA burger tour recently. Golden State is at the top of our list but Umami burger is a close second…

    . . . on April 14, 2010 11:01 PM:

    Golden State. End of discussion.

    Napkin Jones on April 14, 2010 11:36 PM:

    #1 Westside Tavern – best bun, nice garlic aioli, perfectly grilled (get fried green beans as an app or to go with the burger) – slim, but decent beer selection
    #2 Father’s Office 2 – as mentioned above, awesome burger, but this location (in Culver City) there is outdoor seating, and less chance you have to wait in line – fantastic, abundant beer selection
    #3 Golden State – good burger, excellent sides including a Jalapeno Cole Slaw – might have the best taste in beer selection, just not as many options as Fathers Office 2

    unitedstyle on April 14, 2010 11:45 PM:

    My co-worker keeps raving about Umami. I gotta make the trek north to try it.

    Pamberjack on April 14, 2010 11:51 PM:

    Looks great – despite that damn orange American cheese…

    sam on April 15, 2010 12:54 AM:

    no one loves apple pan anymore?

    Russell Sprouts on April 15, 2010 1:26 AM:

    Hit up The Body Shop on Sunset.

    “What burger?” – you may say

    Exactly. Stop arguing about food in Los Angeles and go look at some titays.

    jonathan on April 15, 2010 2:46 AM:

    great post..

    we need places like this in the uk!!!

    theWild&Free on April 15, 2010 2:51 AM:

    Apple Pan is very “ACL”, It has more history then any of the other places listed.

    Andrew Lynch on April 15, 2010 7:09 AM:

    Very nice, wonder if they print discreet references to Bible verses on their paper utensils á la In-N-Out?

    Greg D. on April 15, 2010 9:26 AM:

    That’s a burger? Looks like a little fu-fu burger to me.

    Duke Puke on April 15, 2010 10:57 AM:

    Those are the wussiest looking fries I’ve ever seen.

    Jeff on April 15, 2010 12:03 PM:

    The Apple Pan is the physical embodiment of this entire blog, in eatery form. Not to be missed!

    Pie N Burger has a similar vibe.

    Hawkins House of Burgers (in Watts) is pretty damn good too. Plus it would provide a nice contrast to all the higher end places everyone is mentioning.

    Tommy’s is the original “LA Burger” – definitely go, and definitely go to the original location on Beverly and Rampart.

    The Counter is to be avoided. The gimmick of having tons of toppings to choose from fails to mask it is a mediocre burger at best.

    There are TONS of great burger places around town. Really hard to go wrong.

    Paul on April 15, 2010 12:08 PM:

    Cook Out in NC, Jack Brown’s in Harrisonburg VA, Five Guys along the East Coast, Jack’s Hamburgers in South Florida, In-N-Out (duh).

    Kris on April 15, 2010 12:29 PM:

    Apple Pan..#1 hands down.

    Umami is great for the decadence (truffle burger), but you’re right, the fries are horrible as is the bland homemade ketchup.

    Father’s Office works as a ‘complete package’ place for me…convenient, tons of good beers, and pretty good ‘other’ dishes like the marrow bones, et al… The burgers themselves are serviceable but not great.

    In-N-Out = best late night and best sub $5 burger..

    Villain on April 15, 2010 12:29 PM:

    These guys did a crazy burger tour through L.A. Their verdict:
    3 way tie b/t father’s office, rustic canyon, and golden state

    Kris on April 15, 2010 12:32 PM:

    forgot to mention, Golden State is the worst of the bunch! Bland meat of questionable quality, and poorly executed, meaning none of the flavor profiles really worked.

    You’d be better off just going across the street to Animal for a great meal, where the dishes are well thought out AND perfectly executed (pork belly sliders…)

    8 oz. also kinda sucks, but their deviled eggs are rad.

    reteptterrab on April 15, 2010 1:01 PM:

    Michael, you are a man after my own heart (attack.)

    I am on a constant pursuit for excellent hamburgers as well. Moving to Seattle has opened numerous opportunities to eat some of the best I’ve tasted.

    What I’ve found is that the “best don’t need to advertise” …hence the constant pursuit.

    If you make it up to SF go to the Claremont hotel in Berkley for their burger. Best enjoyed with a funnel of fries and their amazing view.

    Ed on April 15, 2010 2:30 PM:

    Second the motion on Stout in Hollywood. It’s relatively new, but really good and much less expensive than Father’s Office. Also support the original Tommy’s on Beverly Boulevard, fantastic.

    Sean on April 15, 2010 3:28 PM:

    You have to go to Phillipe’s in Downtown LA for a perfect French Dip sandwich in an amazing historic building!!

    Matt on April 15, 2010 3:55 PM:

    The Apple Pan is a must go for this blog and is #1 hands down.

    But if you feel goin in and takin it to the next level hit up The Hungry Cat, a fish spot, but the only red meat on the menu is The Pub Burger, a bacon avocado blue cheese burger with super top quality meat; the best burger I’ve had in my entire life, and I’ve been everywhere everyone has mentioned. It kills the truffle burger at Umami. It laughs at The Apple Pan’s history. It’s a serious burger.

    The burger runs $18 on a metal top table.

    HolThaDo on April 15, 2010 4:01 PM:

    I had a stage where I was obsessed with Umami, but that buttery thing they have going gets annoying after awhile and you need a break.

    In the midst of gentrified, malled, westwood Pico area, there lies an oasis of burger and pie, unchanged forever. You wait for your seat at the lunch counter, and get your order in to an ex-con who squirts your ketchup for you. You can drink your coke out of a paper cone. If you don’t try Apple Pan you have not tried LA burgers. Only flaw: you can’t get onions!

    Mark on April 15, 2010 5:38 PM:

    Hickory Burger at the Apple Pan.

    Is Gene still there? The old white guy? Was that even his name? Anyway, he was on the “right” side of the counter. You could always count on some abuse on that side of the counter. Love that place. Totally ACL, very true.

    OJ on April 16, 2010 2:35 PM:

    In-n-Out Burger ? c’mon….respect!

    (if i missed this posted already my apologies)

    Gophers on April 16, 2010 4:51 PM:

    God I hate when people say Umami – pretty wussy name for a burger place.

    sfv on April 17, 2010 1:09 AM:

    Daglas in the San Fernando Valley. BEST FRIES EVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You need to stop in there and enjoy them.

    Ethan on April 17, 2010 1:08 PM:

    King’s in Northridge. In the worst end of the valley, but Northridge has its charm. The burgers are incredible. Black Jack and the Special in my opinion…

    And yea Dagles is incredible.

    phillipr on April 17, 2010 10:27 PM:

    I really hope that all of these burger joints are using grass fed organic beef. Factory farm cows do not go hand in hand with this site. Check out FOOD INC the movie!

    Erik on April 20, 2010 6:37 PM:

    I just completed a recent burger tour of LA as well. I tried to hit up the Best Gourmet based on this article: http://laist.com/2010/01/27/make_it_official_the_best_burger_in.php

    I missed out on Oaks, but it was the top burger according to two friends. CommeCa and Father’s Office were good, but not my favorite. It seemed like their burgers are mostly about the meat. When I think about a gourmet burger, I want some bells and whistles too. Umami’s Manly burger was amazing. I wish I would have tried the Truffle Burger too. Hands down, the best burger was at the Foundry, though. It totally blew my mind. The actual burger is delicious, plus the combination of the Hawaiian sweet rolls and various toppings create a very complex, well balanced flavor.

    Michael on April 20, 2010 7:42 PM:

    Unrelated to the burger joint, I see you mentioned you were with the guys from Aether. I’m liking their stuff on the site. Anyone know how the t-shirts fit? Any comparisons in cut? I am in shape (you know their whole athletic pitch at 5’9 160lb). I’d prefer to not order the wrong size and have to return. In fact, any info on the Aether products would be helpful in general. And if they are offering the items anywhere in NYC. Thanks.

    Don Weir on April 21, 2010 12:32 AM:

    got a new burger joint in austin you gotta check out next time you’re in town. called your mom’s. un-real. i’ve had 3 in the last week and a half. http://eatatyourmoms.com/

    Rich on April 21, 2010 4:28 AM:

    Ok, I must respectfully disagree with the Apple Pan recommendation. Those are not good burgers.

    But then some may disagree with my pick: CARNEY’S!!

    I go to the one on Ventura east of Coldwater, but there is also one on Sunset in WeHo.

    So good!

    Ben on April 22, 2010 1:46 PM:

    Capitol Burgers
    4301 W Pico Boulevard

    Ryno on April 25, 2010 12:44 AM:

    I thought the fries and ketchup at Umami taste like McDonalds!!!! Overly greesy and super salted! The veggie burger there is actually very good and even if you eat meat, it’s worth trying. Ironically it’s way bigger than the other burgers.

    When in Austin try Dirty’s!

    Wrecked Stellar on April 26, 2010 6:52 PM:

    I need to hit up Umami. I wasn’t impressed with Apple Pan. Yes, it has history and is old school, but it wasn’t anything special.

Comments are closed.