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Mick's Karma Bar Is Burger Heaven In Hell

[Hole In the Wall] This Irvine gem makes amazing hamburgers from a corporate Irvine office tower

No restaurant in Orange County deserves an upgrade in location more than Mick's Karma Bar. From this former juice stand come some of the best burgers in Orange County, squat wonders with the bun crispy, the sirloin patty ground to order (and thus gushing juices), with the tomato cooling and lettuce crispy—and any other ingredients complementing those essentials.

But the setting! Mick's occupies a ground-level corner in Main Plaza, a godawful collection of office towers where the One Percent roams, with a retina-retching collection of pastel public art sculptures just outside Mick's patio that looks like scrap from 1980s-era Miami and a fountain setup straight out of Forest Lawn. You'll have to park in a parking structure, deal with surly guards, and wade through the suited masses at lunchtime and high schoolers in the afternoon, all for the privilege of pulling up to the bar and letting Michael Schepers take care of you.

Yes, despite the inconvenient location, and despite the snotty crowds, you will visit. Schepers (the namesake behind Mick's) knows his way around burgers like Pujols knows how to turn on an off-speed pitch. The go-to option is the Karma burger, the aforementioned basics spiked with what they call Karma sauce, some derivation of Thousand Islands dressing with a whisper of spice. It's the happy medium between the fast-food glory of TK and the pricey beauts of far too many restaurants to remember.

Location Info

Map

Mick's Karma Bar

2010 Main St., Ste. 165
Irvine, CA 92614

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Irvine

But Mick riffs from this structure to even better results like he's affected with attention-deficit disorder. He always constructs a Burger of the Week, on which he'll experiment with the fearlessness of someone BASE jumping off Half Dome. Many of his greatest hits have become staples on his cramped, rambling chalkboard, including a Habanero burger that includes slivers of honest-to-goodness chili peppers and is smeared with salty queso fresco and a garlic mayo that Mick will gladly trot out separately for dunking his sturdy fries. The results are what would happen if Tapatío ever bought In-N-Out. Whether you have your burger Baja style (guac and sour cream), or Mediterranean, or whatever, wash it down with his strawberry basil lemonade. It is tartness personified.

Breakfast burritos also impress, as does a jalapeño-cilantro hummus whose heat sneaks up at the back of your palate. Mick is such a damn talent that I wouldn't be surprised if he decides to do pop-up restaurants just for the hell of it—again, a talent that corporate Irvine so doesn't deserve. Of course, Mick knows his customer base better than anyone—he knows his first-timers and greets regulars as if they were family, so he's obviously happy. But please, pretty please, Mick: open another spot. Don't deny the county your genius. Hey, I hear downtown Santa Ana has a happening food scene...

This column appeared in print as "Burger Heaven In Irvine Hell."

 
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5 comments
evelynlee14
evelynlee14

Loved this article -- spot on about the flavors and the sheer bliss one experiences when biting into a burger. But hey, lay off Irvine and the apparently "hell"ish neighborhood. Don't get political on a review about a burger joint, please. If anything, we buffer the business at Mick's and contribute to its ability to sustain. Not all of us working in the area are corporates, and even if some are, most of us actually work hard and like our jobs. I don't like to argue, but oversimplifications like these and spiteful comments spat at anyone wearing a suit, as if they were to blame for all of America's problems, are downright irritating. 

Mandeeuk
Mandeeuk

You absolutely nailed your description of that complex. It's soul destroying there.

Anita
Anita

Awesome article! I am in love with that habanero burger as well as the fish taco when I'm wanting something lighter.

Bob Conti
Bob Conti

As one of those who goes to Mick's and also works in one of those "godawful" office towers, I can say the food's great and it doesn't really need an extra helping of Arellano's snark. I mean, " ... a talent that corporate Irvine so doesn't deserve." What the fuck does that mean? I don't "deserve" an amazing burger? I am unworthy?

Piss off.

BTW, did I mention the food is awesome?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

If you're going to be a pissant like that, you deserve gruel.

 
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