If you didn't already know, May is national burger month, which means for 31 days, Americans from the East Coast to the best coast unite to celebrate the one thing we all can agree on: the deliciousness of patties and buns. In Orange County, we've got some great burger spots ourselves, whether they're traditional, experimental, mom-and-pop, or even chains (wait, what?) That being said, here are 11 different burgers to try in honor of this holiday. Go crazy, y'all!
11. Cheeseburger at TK Burger
A disclosure for some of you: There will be many fancy, poncy burgers on this list, and that's a good thing because the burger as a medium is so great it deserves to be explored. But for those of you who just want a solid, classic American burger, go to TK Burger, the wonderfully home-grown chain that serves as classic of one as there will ever be.
If you've been (as you should) you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, you're missing out.
110 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach 2119 W.Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach 2966 Bristol St., Costa Mesa 24902 Chrisanta Dr., Mission Viejo 2212 S. Lyon Street, Santa Ana
10. Fresno Fig Burger at Eureka!
A burger with fig marmalade? La di daah (pinky's up, my friends). The most impressive thing about the fresno fig burger is its cohesive marriage of different flavors: tangy goat cheese and mustard, sweet fig marmalade, and savory beef and bacon. From afar the whole burger looks like some avant-garde experiment gone wrong, but its ability to elicit surprise in each bite is what gets it 10+ points from us.
4143 Campus Drive, Irvine, (949) 596-8881; instagram.com/eurekairvine 7631 Edinger Ave. Suite 1524, Huntington Beach, 714-230-3955; instagram.com/eurekahb 9. Cow Pig Duck Burger at Arc Restaurant
This one's for the fans of Man Vs. Food--the ones, who, after seeing Adam Richmond attempt the Double Big Jud from Big Jud's--wanted to see if they could do something like that too. If its size wasn't intimidating enough, this cow pig duck burger also has bacon chunks in it and is cooked in duck fat--Adam Richman-approved, I'd say.
3321 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, (949) 500-5561; facebook.com/arcrestaurant
8. Original Burger at Umami Burger
Most OC locals have tried a burger from Umami burger right now, and those who have might have come across the original burger, which is made with shitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, and umami house ketchup--in other words, umami on steroids. The special ingredient, though, is the parmesan frico, which adds a subtle crispiness to each bite.
2981 Bristol Street Suite B-2, Costa Mesa, 714-957-8626 338 South Anaheim Boulevard, Anaheim, 714-991-8626 527 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine, 949-396-1830 instagram.com/umamiburger
7. Grass-fed Bison Burger at True Food Kitchen
Disclaimer: only try this burger if you're O.K. with cheating on beef, because it's so good you'll want to come back.
Ironically, True Food Kitchen--an eco-friendly, health conscious chain--sells a memorable burger when, of course, burgers aren't exactly what comes to mind when we think 'healthy.' Nonetheless, amidst hyper-healthy-sounding menu items--like spaghetti squash casserole-- is a juicy, umami-flavored burger made with mushrooms and watercress, and it's all packed together with flax seed buns (as you'd expect).
451 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949-644-2400; instagram.com/true_food_kitchen 6. Juan and Only Burger at GD Bro Truck
If you like jalapeno poppers, you'll like the Juan and Only Burger, which is something like a jalapeno-popper-inspired burger. In between two buns are a beef patty, jalapenos, cream cheese, pico de gallo, and avocado--a mixture of spice and coolness.
5. Caprese Burger at G Burger
Add a caprese salad (mozzarrella, tomatoes, and basil seasoned with salt and olive oil) and avocado onto a burger with avocado and you get a cross between a salad and a burger--perfect for burger-lovers who still want to feel healthy. When served, the warm buns and patty inevitably melt the cheese, which contrasts nicely with the cool avocadoes.
421 E. La Habra Blvd. , La Habra, 562-245-7208 18120 Brookhurst St. Fountain Valley, 714-965-6707 13256 Jamboree Rd, Irvine, 714-731-7758 instagram.com/g_burger
4. Truffle Burger with Raspberry Buns at Toro Burger
With the raspberry buns, the truffle burger looks like a huge raspberry macaroon with beef as the filling instead of cream. Regardless, the raspberry bun is actually not sweet at all, and whatever 1% sweetness it has compliments the teriyaki sauce nicely. The whole burger is, in fact, extremely savory: the beef is juicy, the oozing cheese mixes well with the teriyaki sauce, and when you get to the center of the burger, you get a nice taste of the fries.
2321 E 4th St, Santa Ana, 714-972-4588; facebook.com/thetoroburger 3. Cheddar Cheeseburger at Rockfire Grill
Burgers at Rockfire Grill are certainly best-value; for $4.95 each, you get a fancy flatbread burger that's as filling as burgers at other places going for $20. Of them all, the cheddar cheeseburger is particularly satisfying; inside a crusty yet fluffy flatbread are thick slices of juicy beef, leafy greens, tomatoes, and grilled onions--all accompanied by mustard and mayo. How the flatbread stays intact the whole time is also impressive--says a lot, don't it?
28251 Marguerite Pkwy, Mission Viejo, 949-364-3473 1945 E17th St Ste 104, Santa Ana, 714-564-0545 instagram.com/rockfiregrill
2. The Hermanator at Peter's Gourmade Grill
"The Hermanator is spicy, but gringo-friendly," the cashier at Peter's Gourmade Grill told a customer ahead of me once. Slightly spicy it is, as you'll only find jalapenos in your bite every once in a while. Aside from that, the Hermanator is an ode to the patty, where thinly sliced potato buns and shredded lettuce all accentuate the charbroiled taste and smell of the patty. You'll love it so much you might want to sew your ass shut (line stolen from Barney Stinson).
14311 Newport Ave, Tustin, 714-832-2099 facebook.com/pages/Peters-Gourmade-Grill
1. Swiss Onion at Mick's Karma Bar
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We've lauded the habanero and karma burger before, but the swiss onion--angus beef topped with caramelized onions, mustard, and mayo--deserves just the same amount of attention. In comparison to the classic karma burger, the swiss onion is stronger in flavor--perfect for days when you want to go all-out and consume something with a kick. Like all of Mick's burgers, the swiss onion can't be eaten alone; a strawberry basil/mint mojito, side of fries, and most importantly, garlic sauce are as important as the burger itself.
2010 Main St, Irvine, 949-851-6316; twitter.com/mickskarmabar