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.
This phrase has stuck with me over the years. It certainly applies to burger toppings, as in what toppings the chef chooses to offer on the burger. Certain establishments have built their reputation not just on what they put on their burgers but what they won’t put on, or refuse to take off. The latter scenario describes Father’s Office, whose “don’t modify, don’t even ask” policy naturally draws ire, media attention and me returning again and again because chef Sang Yoon knows what he is doing, my mouth knows it too, and if I wanted something different, then elsewhere would I go.
Which brings us to Fatburger and their seemingly obvious topping choices. But wait, are they so obvious? I see no ketchup, no Thousand Island. Is it just the wet stuff where Fatburger makes their mark in the burger world? How about that total rush of sour when offering pickles and relish? And the onions come chopped? This burger joint is starting to come off more like a hot dog cart. And that’s worth noting as their branding claims that they are the last great hamburger stand. While Fatburger may strike me as middle of the road in terms of price and overall concept, their topping choices make for one unique experience when you order them en masse . When coming to Fatburger, you should order “the works”, thereby signing yourself up for a burger experience that resounds with piquant flavor, that serves as a total stand out in a town that demands a strong first impression. Not bad for a middle child.
Bang for your Burger Buck always comes down to a healthy beef to bun ratio, and as seen above, the double medium at Fatburger has this base covered. The larger patties like the XXXL spread wide and their accompanying bun follows suit, so though you might be getting more burger, you’re also getting enough dough to open up your own Quizno’s. The buns on the medium just barely hold on to these patties, with a fair amount of charred chuck just spilling over. We have seen this effect before over at the Burger Plaza Grill, and the ratio works everytime. If ever the lady from Wendy’s needed answer to query of “Where’s the Beef?”, she should’ve gone to Fatburger.
The greatest hurdle Fatburger has for me is their policy of cooking their burgers through. Their standard cooking temp is well done which is nothing short of beef sacrilege. On request they will accommodate a cooking temp of medium well, far from ideal, but also far from bone dry. It may seem hard to believe that these patties weren’t lacking in the juice department, but take a look at that bottom bun. That’s more than the weight of the patties putting the squeeze on that bun, that’s jus de Fatburger soaking the bread. Also helping the cause is the heavy seasoning of salt and pepper and a well griddled crust on both sides of the patty. So moving to me is that sight of cracked black peppercorn bonded to the beef patty, I someday imagine Fatburger introducing a French Bistro version, where the griddle station would add a dedicated saucier to deglaze the flat top with a little red wine, add a touch of cream and voilá, you could have a Fatburger Au Poivre. Then again, that might tip the price point threshold for Bang for your Burger Buck. A boy can dream.
But for today, I’m content with one bad ass paper wrapped burger that satisfies the palate, sates the belly and goes easy enough on the wallet. $8 ain’t chump change, but this double burger dressed with House toppings for $7.63 ain’t for chumps, just ask Ice Cube. Bang for your Burger Buck at Fatburger is tied to ordering the full house topping and condiment suite, it’s not just for looks, it’s the ticket to a stand out piquant flavor and textural experience. Of course it is nice to take in this vision of beauty that gets away with looking this good without cheese, bacon or fries and appreciate the fact that much like a Hollywood starlet decked out in Oscar de la Renta, this Fatburger is in no need of accessories. Sorry Tory Burch.