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Four Essential Santa Monica Cheeseburgers

Checking in on some of Santa Monica’s best cheeseburgers on National Cheeseburger Day. 

By Kerry Slater

Any burger lover will say that any day is a great day to grab a burger but September 18 is a particularly choice date to grab a burger as National Cheeseburger Day and luckily Santa Monica diners have a slew of top-notch options to choose from. From thick gourmet burgers to no-frills thin patties, here are four essential Santa Monica cheeseburgers worth going to today to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day the way it’s intended to be celebrated.

Father’s Office 

Many credit Fathers Office for kick-starting the gourmet burger movement.

There are people who are picky about their burgers and then there is Father’s Office, whose strict non-modification policy prohibits even the pickiest of eaters from requesting substitutions (even ketchup) on their burger.

Located on Montana Avenue near 10th Street, Father’s Office has been churning out burgers and pouring brews since 1953. Many people credit Father’s Office from kick-starting the artisan burger trend when chef Sang Yoon took over the bar and restaurant in 2000. Yoon set out to make a gourmet burger and thus the Office Burger was born. In 2008, Esquire called the Office Burger one of the best burgers in the world.

Prior to the Office Burger, most burgers were made with bland filler ground beef, which is why people came to slather their burgers with ketchup and spreads. Made with dry-aged beef, however, the Office Burger is anything but bland. Rich and slightly gamey, this bold-tasting burger is topped with caramelized onions, Gruyère and Maytag cheeses, applewood-smoked bacon compote and arugula served on a soft roll and with no ketchup or anything other spread. These toppings are not overpowering, simply serving as a compliment to the meat, the forefront of the Office Burger.

With an impressive list of beers on tap to go alongside this world-class burger, Father’s Office is the place to be on National Cheeseburger Day. Just don’t act blue when the cheese turns out bleu.

Father’s Office is located at 1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403 and is open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday and until 2 a.m. on Saturday and Sundays. Call (310) 736-2224 for more information.

Umami Burger 

An Umami Burger in all its glory. Photo: Courtesy.

If Father’s Office invented the gourmet burger, Umami Burger ushered gourmet burgers into the world of social media we live in today. Founded in 2009 in Los Angeles, Umami Burger opened in Santa Monica soon after. Like Father’s Office, Umami Burger discourages substitutions but unlike Father’s Office offers an extensive list of burger varieties for diners to choose from, including a meatless Impossible burger.

Umami Burger gets its name from “umami” which translates from Japanese as a “pleasant savory taste.” Along with sweet, salty, sour and bitter, umami is one of the five basic tastes. Every burger at Umami contains umami-rich ingredients. The meat (American Wagyu beef) is seasoned with umami-sauce, which contains soy sauce and many of the burgers are topped with Parmesan cheese, another umami-rich food.

With 25 locations around the world, Umami Burger is by no means unique to Santa Monica. But with a burger that tastes so good, Umami Burger should be tried by every burger-lover in toww, especially on National Cheeseburger Day.

Umami Burger Santa Monica is located at 525 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401. For more information visit https://www.umamiburger.com/locations/santa-monica/ or call (310) 451-1300. 

HiHo Cheeseburger

Its all about the Wagyu beef at HiHo. Photo: Courtesy.

HiHo Cheeseburger is what happens when the owners of a world-class sushi restaurant attempt to make a burger. From the same food-group that owns Sugarfish and Kazu Nori, HiHo Cheeseburger, located on 2nd Street between Santa Monica Boulevard and Arizona Avenue, takes a streamlined approach to gourmet burgers.

HiHo uses 100 percent grass fed and grass finished New Zealand Wagyu beef for their burgers. Seasoned with salt and pepper only, the quality of the meat is apparent with the first bite. Rich, juicy and slightly sweet, the HiHo cheeseburger is everything a burger is supposed to be and nothing more.

The toppings and condiments take a back seat at HiHo, serving as a subtle complement to the patties. The combination of the melted American cheese and onion jam is delicious, like a more subtle version of an Animal Style burger at In-N-Out.

HiHo Cheeseburger is located at 1320 2nd Street B, Santa Monica, CA 90401. For more information call (310) 469-7250 or visit https://www.hiho.la/. 

Big Jo’s 

Big Jo’s keeps it simple with their cheeseburgers. Photo: Courtesy.

So far this list has been full of $10 + gourmet burgers that may tantalize taste buds but are far removed from the no-frills, quick-bite nature cheeseburgers take their roots in. Big Jo’s, located on the corner of Broadway and 20th streets, keeps the burgers simple, cheap and delicious.

A Santa Monica staple for nearly 60 years, Big Jo’s thin patty cheeseburgers could have come straight out of a 1950s diner. Wrapped in tin foil and served in a paper bag, this may not be the place for a romantic date but it is the place to get a meal that hits the spot.  Seasoned to perfection, a Big Jo’s cheeseburger is an ideal choice for Santa Monica eaters looking for a quick and easy lunch.

Big Jo’s is located at 1955 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90404. For more information call (310) 828-3191. 

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