Ok, this is gonna be a long one. Let’s get to it…
The Karma Burger here is simply magnificent. Fresh ground sirloin, lean but surprisingly flavorful and smoky, and cooked to a perfect medium-well without being overly juicy. Fresh tomatoes, slice of red onion (a must in a proper burger), crisp leaf lettuce, and a brioche bun that maintains its integrity, but knows just when to fall apart whenever you take a bite. Karma sauce is thousand-island-y, but unique enough to deliver a distinct taste. It’s just… yeah, this is a burger. This is what it should be. Also, not a fan of steak fries, but theirs were fried to a perfect golden-yellow and well seasoned, a fantastic accompaniment. The burger is $5.50, a combo with fries and a drink (choice of soda or any of their homemade lemonades and teas) will set you back an additional $3.25. Go here.
The Great OC Burger Roundup: Part 2 – Micks Karma Bar
2010 Main Street, Ste 165, Irvine
My main issue here isn’t with the uninspired “high-end” burgers churned out by lacksadaisical kitchen staff. The brunt of my ire goes to the poorly-trained service staff and bitch/prick manager that always places the orders with such disdain and pre-conceived ideas about who deserves proper attention and service. Anyway, the burgers suck. Overpriced, bland at the center, overly seasoned on the sides, pretentious, greasy, and overall just terrible. Don’t. Just don’t.
Not gonna give you an address, don’t bother
This place is all about burgers, in every shape and size. Original options range from a Thanksgiving Burger to a Peanut Butter & Jelly Burger, or you can customize your own creation to a T. The reason to come is the namesake 50/50 Burger. The patty is 50% beef, 50% bacon (hell yes) and covered with avocado, chipotle mayo, pepperjack cheese, and a perfectly fried egg. Counting the buttery brioche bun that holds together this bundle of joy, it’s one of the richest things you’ll ever eat, but it goes down fast and leaves you feeling extremeley proud of yourself. Also, something about the giant knife stuck in the center of every burger makes me happy. Don’t read into that.
8082 Adams Avenue, Huntington Beach
A lot of (local) people swear by TK Burgers. Usually, it’s the ones who hate In N Out and how corporate they are, bro. Thus, with this mentality, the best way to describe the burgers at TK is as the surfer version of In N Out. The patties always have a nice char and a sort of homemade quality to them, but the bun is pretty dry and the fixings are fairly basic. They’re pretty large burgers, giving you quite a bit of bang for your buck, but unfortunately that bang doesn’t apply to the flavor.
2966 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa (and many other locations)
Don’t laugh. Seriously, stop laughing, it’s hurtful. Del Taco has one of the most underrated burgers in the history of mankind. Their Double Del Cheeseburger comes with two patties, two slices of cheese, a thick slice of tomato, special sauce, and plenty of lettuce and diced onions. The patties are cooked well, the bread is excellent, and the special sauce dances on your tongue like a veteran ballerina who’s still got the moves. It’s just a solid, straightforward burger and that makes it better than most big-chain fast food burgers out there.
Crow Bar recently opened the burger-centric Crow Burger Kitchen, but the Black Label Burger at the original location blows any burger there out of the water. This thing is high-end as all hell. 21-day-dry-aged prime ribeye beef on a buttermilk bun. Bone marrow butter mingles with the meat and caramelized onions to leave a delightful finish, akin to the lingering of wine or Scotch on the palate. This burger is for people who like to indulge in luxury and arouse their senses, and after the first few bites your senses will scream for you to take your time with this ode to decadence.
2325 East Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar
I used to love Knowlwood’s self-proclaimed World’s Best Cheeseburger, but after seeing what other burger possibilities are out there, I’ve come to realize that’s it’s just….ok. You know that patty is just a frozen disc thrown on the grill, more often than not overcooked and dry. I like the thousand island smeared on the base of the buns, but the overall burger lacks that extra oomph of taste. It’s just a cheeseburger: nothing more, nothing less. They still make a mean milkshake here, but alas! their burgers have lost their magic to my jaded tastebuds.
14952 Sand Canyon Avenue, Irvine (many other locations)
See you next week with the grand finale – Part 3!
Photography by Eunice Lee and Tarun Bansal.