59. The Burger at ARC

59. The Burger at ARC

Noah Blom's ARC in Costa Mesa is special, especially in Orange County where the number of restaurants with such a ballsy approach can be counted on one hand. He butchers his own meat. Nothing but fire touches the food. No fancy appliances--but none needed. True caveman cuisine.

The off-menu burger here matches the restaurant's noble aspirations, providing a hefty, charred masterpiece meant to satisfy the most primal and carnivorous of appetites.

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59. The Burger at ARC

Even as the Orange County restaurant scene explodes with a slate of meticulously-crafted "chef-driven" burgers, there's still nothing like this monstrosity. The bulky cornmeal-dusted bun is sturdy to a point, but it'll start to gum up toward the end of your meal as it succumbs to a fair share of bloody, dripping animal juices. It does provide a proper base for a smear of garlic aioli and a pile of fresh veggies including neon yellow heirloom tomatoes, Fresno chilies and red oak lettuce, the latter of which has been tossed in a roasted garlic vinaigrette.

(On a later visit, the yellow tomatoes were replaced with reds and there was a choice between bleu cheese or aged cheddar, which was the only option back when ARC first opened.)

You'll need all that freshness and acid to cut through the patty which is more like a flat meatloaf than a traditional hamburguesa Americana. It's short rib. And rib-eye strap. Ground down and bulked up with chunky, chewy bacon lardons. You'd think a generous handful of herbs and mellow caramelized onions would help lighten things up, but Blom binds the damn thing with duck fat. Because everything is better with some motherfucking duck fat in it.

It's so rich, it's like eating a money sandwich. And at $20 a pop, you kinda are. But it's a worthy splurge, best reserved for one of those "Treat Yo'Self" days when you point your middle fingers to the sky and scream "Diet be damned! Today I'm eating three animals at once!"

The list:

60. Chocolate Chip Cookie at Crave 61. Lime Curd At Playground 62. Every Damn Thing at Mochi Cream 63. Most Things at Devilicious Donuts 64. Robiola Bosina at Provisions Market 65. Bite-Sized Stinky Tofu at Tofu King 66. Tacos Dorados at Tortas Ahogadas Los Primos 67. Tlacoyo at El Rincon Chilango 68. Whole Pig Roast at Haven Gastropub 69. Chingaderas at Smoqued BBQ 70. The Continuous Ramen Chronicles at The Playground 71. Shrimp & Grits at Slapfish 72. Bacon Cotton Candy at Biggy's Meat Market 73. Urban 3b at Urban Seoul 74. Waffles & Chicken from The Slummin' Gourmet & Waffles de Liege 75. Ahi Tuna Tartar at Nieuport 17 76. Chicken Wings at Hashigo Korean Kitchen 77. Brussels Sprouts Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza 78. Breakfast Sausage Hash at Thasos Greek Island Grille 79. Chocolate Doughnut with Jacobsen Sea Salt at Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee 80. Loco Moco Dog at Dogzilla 81. Fruit Tart at Le Croissant Dore 82. Daing Na Bangus (Marinated Milkfish) Silog Breakfast at Chowking 83. Strawberry Basil Lemonade at Mick's Karma Bar 84. Lemongrass Chicken Salad at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop 85. Tofu Soup at Tasty Thai 86. Take-Out Dim Sum at Capital B.B.Q. and Dim Sum Express 87. Hodo Gwaja at Cocohodo 88. Popcorn Chicken Salad at Guppy House 89. Fried Okra at Memphis Soul Cafe & Bar 90. Salted Egg With Bitter Melon & Scrambled Egg at Tasty Noodle House 91. Boysenberry Lemonade from Bautista Creek Local Produce at SOCO Farmers' Market 92. Scallop Carpaccio with Curry Oil and Yuzu Vinaigrette from Cafe Hiro 93. White Board Specials at Taco Adobe 94. Coney Dog at LinX 95. Halal Pizzas from San Giovanni Pizzas 96. Clayuda at El Fortín 97. Lunch Buffet at Dosa Express 98. The Meats at Darya in Orange 99. Panocha at Taquería Zamora 100. Bean-and-Cheese Burrito from Del Taco

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