This Hole-in-the-Wall Life

Burger Beach


Even if you've never eaten at Husky Boy, you know this restaurant. It's the burger stand on the north side of Laguna Beach—the one on the inland side as you speed (slowly: mind the local constabulary) toward Crystal Cove, the dive with the chronically long line of surfers and tourists, the rich and the day laborers, kids and adults, all waiting patiently for some of the best hamburgers on the Orange County coast.

Husky Boy's menu is a time capsule from the 1960s corrupted by Mexicans. Breakfast brings out the eggs—with ham, sausage or bacon; in gooey omelets; scrambled inside a steaming breakfast burrito; seeped into the French toast. There are decent versions of such Mexican fast-food staples as burritos, quesadillas and expensive-but-big carne asada tacos. And, in a nod toward the holistic Laguna Beach that is disappearing with every new mansion, Husky Boy also offers buffalo and ostrich burgers; both of the meats are light and (truthfully) a bit funky.

Better to stick with Husky Boy's 11 hamburgers. The essential Husky Boy burger is a study in teamwork: a dense bun, crispy lettuce, juicy tomatoes, crunchy onions, a squirt of Thousand Island dressing and a hamburger patty. It's filling, lush with meat juices and large enough to warrant a postprandial nap. There are 10 variations on this theme: the Frisco burger includes ham and bacon with a smidgen of mayo on sourdough bread; the Baja cheeseburger is south-of-the-border only by virtue of the mild Ortega chili splayed across the patty. More gourmet is the Swiss mushroom burger—grilled onions, a slice of Swiss cheese and hefty 'shrooms.

All of them deserve a bite, but first-timers should stick to the majestic bulk that is the namesake Husky burger. It's really just a cheeseburger topped with ruddy bits of pastrami, but the contrast between the juicy beef and the salty pastrami is gluttony at its most enjoyable. Fork out an extra $2.50, and you can get the combo, which includes a large drink and a basket of fries: joy.

If you do decide to pull into Husky Boy, be warned: there's no inside seating. Customers order from one counter window, get their food at another and sit on the bright blue benches around the building's perimeter or lean against a parked vehicle. Be a good American—wipe your car hood clean, and allow a dozen tired asses to sit on it.

HUSKY BOY BURGER, 802 N. COAST HWY., LAGUNA BEACH, (949) 497-9605.

 
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