Friday, June 17, 2005

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger Today.

A hamburger haiku.

Burger, you I love.
Bun. Meat. Cheese. Burger meet mouth.
Delicious you are.

If it sounds like I'm channeling Yoda, well, poet I am not. But Monday night I had a mighty fine burger worthy of a haiku.

LA is a burger town. You'd never expect it, with all the skinny blonde fake plastic tan people walking around. Sometimes I imagine they eat air sandwiches, with hope instead of bread, and lettuce and celery on the side. Oh, and a Diet Coke. But seriously, Los Angelinos know how to make and eat a delicious burger, even if the women serving them look malnourished.

Right now, I'm making my way through a list of places that are always recommended when a person says, You know, I'm craving a burger. The responses vary, but each name is always followed by an impassioned rant on the meat and cheese sandwich grilled to perfection, and why this place is superior to all others. Since I prefer to keep my options open, and there's plenty of room for more than one "best burger" in my mind, I like to sample all the different best of places so I have my own opinion to draw from when I'm satisfying my burger craving.

Here is my list:
Amuse Cafe. Check.
Apple Pan.
The Arsenal. Check.
The Counter. Check.
Fatburger. Check.
Father's Office.
In'n'Out. Check.

You can see from my list, I have only three more places to try before I will have successfully sampled my way through many of the burger havens of Los Angeles. So far, I don't have a favorite, since each has its different style. Prices are approximate.
  • Amuse makes an amazing gourmet burger served with artisan cheese, free-range meat, top notch produce, and a side of fantastic homemade potato chips or salad. $10.
  • The Arsenal boasts a killer basic burger, with the same high-end meat, choice toppings, potato or sweet potato fries, and a great atmosphere, complete with full bar selection. $8.
  • I'll get to The Counter in a sec, since that's the subject of this post.
  • Fatburger offers a very good fast burger, (note I didn't say fast food burger, this ain't Micky D's), with a slew of toppings, including the ever popular fried egg. $3.
  • In'n'Out tops the list of fast food burgers, with a fresh, basic burger that came from only one cow, plastic cheese (sorry folks, I have a weak spot for the American slices), fresh tomato and lettuce, onions grilled or not if you want them, and a special sauce. There's also a secret menu with things like an animal style burger and the 4-by-4. $1.65 and up.

So on Monday night, I finally went to The Counter. It's nestled in the corner of an ever-present mini-mall on Ocean Park Blvd., which goes, as you might expect, all the way out to the ocean. There's free parking in the back, which is a nice touch, and the mall has some trees, differentiating it a bit from the regular mini mall. Once inside, The Counter's atmosphere is clean, hip, a bit industrial, and overall very cool. For lunch I'm told you simply check off what you want from the paper checklist menu on the mini clip boards on the counter, and hand it to the folks behind the counter. And voila, your ideal burger is born. It's not much different at night, except there's table service, so it feels a bit more like a sit down restaurant.

I'm a creature of habit. I don't mean to be, but I am. So when I got the big checklist with all the crazy choices of topping for my burger, like cranberry this and horseradish that, I politely declined. I like cheese on my burger, usually cheddar, and grilled onions. I can do without the onions, but I do enjoy them. Lettuce, tomato, and pickle are also welcome. And I like a variety of special sauces, but usually opt for something from the Russian Dressing/Thousand Island family. And the result is this towering gastronomic inferno. Yum.

One of my compatriots ordered the 2/3 pound burger. I chose the 1/3 pound. And you could also get a 1 pound burger I believe, but I'll leave that to the professionals. His ginormous burger looked like this, with a dallop of ranch dressing.

Another of the ingenious options at The Counter is their choice of fries. You can get potato fries, sweet potato fries, onion strings, and a combo of both. This is best for those of us who cannot make up their minds when it comes to food, particularly the greasy comfort food. I swing both ways between the fries and onion ring camps, so I opted for both. I enjoyed their onion string deviation. They're thinner and crispier than regular onion rings, with all the onion flavor you crave. And the garlicky ranch dressing they serve with it is delish. I'm not a ranch person, but it went perfectly with the onion strings. I didn't even pour a drop of catsup.

To sum up, The Counter makes a mighty fine burger with any fixin you can dream up. So if it is a burger you crave, they'll do you right.

The Counter
2901 Ocean Park Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dammit! Now I want a burger!

Damned If I Know

6/17/2005 11:15 AM  
Blogger Jungle Cruise Joe said...

Dont forget the glorius goodness of both Ruby's and Red Robin (where you get all you can eat steak fries). They are both very good as well.

In fact last week i had In-N-Out, Ruby's, Red Robin and Fatburger for lunch in the same week. I called it the "having the trifecta +1.....

6/17/2005 11:50 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Thanks JCJ! I will absolutely add them to my list.

6/17/2005 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Julie--
I've been longing for The Counter since I was last in LA. I went for the first time right before I took my long flight back to the Midwest. Man oh man, does that place rule. I already have so many favorite food stops in LA, but I think I may have to run to The Counter immediately after the Boeing's wheels touch down. Now I want a burger too. Damn you.

I've been really enjoying your site, BTW.

6/23/2005 12:26 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home