Bacon fans will love these San Fernando Valley restaurants – Daily News

I’m sure you’ve got this on your calendar, but just in case you forgot to write it down — preferring instead to make note of lesser days like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s — do take note that Aug. 20 is National Bacon Lover’s Day, Sept. 4 is International Bacon Day, and Dec. 30 is National Bacon Day. … Oh, and April is National BLT Sandwich Month.

Great holidays, one and all, on which to have bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And perhaps chocolate-covered as a snack. And smoked on a stick in a martini.

And if you’re really deep into Bacon Mania, there’s Mr. Bacon’s Bacon Toothpaste (it’s available at Walmart!). There’s also bacon candy, bacon jelly beans, bacon soap, bacon air freshener, bacon floss, baconnaise, bacon soda, bacon lip balm, bacon toothpicks and — Lord have mercy! — baconlube. Those of an athletic bent can find leggings in a bacon pattern, which seems a bit of an oxymoron. But this is the point: We love bacon, not wisely but too well (as Shakespeare wrote of Othello).

And this is especially ironic. For in the context of our diet-obsessive culture, bacon is Satan incarnate, the worst of all possible foods…and the best for the same reasons. It’s high in sodium, outlandish in saturated fats, packed with the sort of chemicals that are usually approached wearing hazmat suits.

Yet, it tastes so good. It’s salty, it’s smoky, it’s fatty, it’s crazy with cholesterol, it’s crunchy — it’s America incarnate.

A BLT without “B” is just a soggy lettuce and tomato sandwich, a sad thing. Bacon & eggs without bacon is, well, eggs, over-easy — nothing more, nothing less. Bacon makes a salad come to life. It does amazing things for a burger. And, it’s got to be the real deal. My family goes through spurts of healthy living, so that in between tasting every chocolate wonderment from Trader Joe’s, they opt for turkey bacon, or some such folderol. I say, “In for a penny, in for a pound.” If you’re gonna eat bacon, then eat bacon.

And I say that with all the fervor of an acolyte, a true believer. I did not grow up eating bacon. The Bronx is beef and chicken country — pig was something Southerners chewed. I was probably in my late teens when I first tasted bacon. I was sold. I was converted. If bacon was a religion, I’d be singing its hosannahs every week.

God created men and women. And God created bacon. We were meant to become one. And that’s what we do, at restaurants offering a fine selection of bacon dishes. April, August, September, December — and the rest of the year too. Bacon rules!

Cheese fries with bacon jam

The website pretty well nails Morrison (3821 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 818-843-0227; 3179 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater Village, 323-667-1839; with these words: “Burgers, Beer and Much More.” With “Much More” including sports, of course, along with numerous tables of joyful carousers happy to be afoot in the world once more, and an open patio adjacent to the parking lot. Which may not be the best place to watch USC and UCLA football — but they sure rock on a warm evening, with the “signature crafted burgers” in hand, oozing juices, too big in most cases to bite into without making a bit of a mess.

The top burger on the menu is a $25 concoction called “The One,” crafted out of American Kobe beef, shallots, aioli, truffle oil, truffle peelings, butter lettuce, Port Salt cheese, and grilled mushrooms, with a side of fries. Kobe beef? Shallots? Truffle oil and peelings? What the heck. That’s not a sports bar burger, that’s a gourmet eatery with a celeb chef in the kitchen — Michael Mina, maybe, or Gordon Ramsay.

And it’s not the only gourmet burger on the menu. For $20, you can get an Angus beef patty cooked in white truffle oil, this time with bleu cheese and caramelized onions. I gots to tell ya: That burger sounds even better than the Kobe model.

There’s a Classic Burger as well, with thousand island dressing, a trio of siders on Hawaiian sweet rolls, a burger that includes a slab of sliced filet mignon, a breakfast burger with a fried egg and a pancake, a Monster Mac Burger with mac and cheese, a turkey burger, an LA veggie burger, a “shroomer” burger, and a patty melt. They all come with fries. Almost everything here comes with fries. I’m surprised the cheese fries with bacon jam doesn’t come with a side of fries.

The rest of the menu follows pretty much the same drill — food that goes well with beer and sports. Such as barbecue ribs and Red Hot Morrison wings, a “gourmet” NY pretzel with caramel sauce, nachos and fried Brussels sprouts.

Numerous dishes come with a beer suggestion — Belgian Golden Ale or stout with “The One.” But honestly, with a good game on, a Monster Mac in hand, and the affable staff there to serve, any beer will do.

  • A cheeseburger isn’t complete with only lettuce, sliced tomato, pickles and dressing. Bacon takes this cheeseburger to the next level. (Shutterstock)

  • Bacon isn’t just for breakfast, served with eggs prepared several ways and hash browns. It’s also an ingredient in a variety of specialty drinks including this Bloody Mary with bacon rashers. (Shutterstock)

  • Bacon-wrapped shrimp combines two great tastes into one. (Shutterstock)

  • Topped with hollandaise sauce, eggs Benedicts are made even better with bacon. (Shutterstock)

Applewood smoked bacon steak burger

At Bourbon Burger Bar (Inside Bourbon Steak, The Americana at Brand, 237 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; 818-823-6132,, there are three beef burgers — the prime dry-aged steak burger, the black truffle steak burger, and the applewood smoked bacon steak burger. Fine creations one and all, served variously on toasted sweet potato brioche buns and cracked black pepper buns, topped with stuff like Fiscalini farmhouse cheddar and caramelized French onion fondue.

There are three non-beef burgers as well — a heritage turkey burger, a barbecue salmon burger, a toasted veggie burger. Of course there are fries – the “famous” duck fat fries, with a trio of sauces. Caviar-crème fraiche fries too. There’s a steak burger truffle salad too. Dang, but the man do like his truffles. Though not in his desserts — vanilla wafer pudding, devil’s food chocolate cake parfait, walnut-chocolate chip cookies. Not yet, at least.

Bacon cocktails

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill (110 N. 1st St., Burbank; 747-200-2460, is a good place to go for not just smoked meat and beans, but for a sophisticated cocktail as well. The Cadillac Margarita is made with Cabo Wabo Reposado, the Old Fashioned is new fashioned out of Maker’s Mark Bourbon, and there’s a Smokin’ Mary with Ketel One Vodka, smoked bacon and a grilled jalapeño. A Bloody with smoked bacon moves it into a whole new realm of imbibing experience. It cries out…order another!

At heart, Wood Ranch is about meat, long-smoked till its tender and sweet, and literally falls of the bone. My favorite has long been the tri tip, a tender cut that ‘que aficionados either love or not; some argue that the only proper meat for the smoker is brisket. Others say that tri tip knocks brisket out of the ballpark. There are numerous websites dedicated to pursuing the argument, which gets downright Talmudic in its complexity. Me, I’m happy with both; done properly, they’re both delicious, though with seriously different flavors and textures.

As a rule, brisket needs to be marinated; tri tip could be, but it can also just be dropped in the hot box, to serve its time. It has much more of a crust than brisket, and I do like my crust; in some ways, that’s what meat is all about.

The tri tip at Wood Ranch is a solid block of meat, in a sweet barbecue sauce, with a serious beef flavor. The brisket falls apart with a touch, and it comes in a sauce that’s peppery and a bit salty.

There’s a selection of sauces at Wood Ranch — of course there is. I lean toward the sweet-tangy Original, though the more vinegary Carolina sauce is near and dear as well. For those who want heat, there’s a chipotle-cherry, and a habanero-peach; I worry they’ll overwhelm the meat. Probably I’m wrong; Wood Ranch gets most everything right.

The ribs run to baby backs, beef (smoked over pecan wood), and dry-rubbed St. Louis style. There’s brisket as well, because it’s a good thing — though for my money, the triumph is tri tip. I like the pulled pork, simply because I always like the pulled pork, which good food for those who don’t want to use their teeth a lot.

If you need to get serious, there are several steaks, and several seafood dishes, but in the presence of those barbecued meats, temptation isn’t there. On the side, get the Original Peanut Coleslaw, which has been on the menu since day one. Ditto the skillet baked beans and the grilled corn on the cob.

For dessert, there’s a deep-dish peach cobbler, and a warm chocolate cake, which I usually get for the vanilla ice cream. Vanilla tastes so good after all that smoky goodness. But then, so does another Smokin’ Mary.

Canadian Bacon Benedict

Nat’s Early Bite Coffee Shop (22737 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, 818-222-2350; also, 14115 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818-781-3040; isn’t so much a restaurant, as it is a way of life — with the wait for a table part of the Nat’s experience. (Though that wait seems to be shorter at the Woodland Hills branch, possibly because so much overflow sits outside.)

Eventually, a seat  becomes available — the turnover is brisk at both branches, though the penchant for enjoying sidewalk dining outside keeps people in place for a while longer than inside. And eventually, you’ll be able to tuck into a meal that’s almost breathtaking in its consistency. I’m pretty certain that the Denver Omelette I had at Nat’s back in the 1980s, is the same Denver Omelette I had recently. Like many of the restaurants that persevere, Nat’s is eternal. Or at least, as eternal as a place that serves corned beef hash this good can be. (Both with eggs and potatoes — get the home fries or the hash browns! — and in a corned beef hash Benedict, one of several madcap Benedicts!)

Though Nat’s is open for both breakfast and lunch, and the lunch section of the menu is as large as the breakfast section, I mostly think of Nat’s as a breakfast joint. This is, after all, Nat’s “Early Bite,” not Nat’s “Lunch Spot.” And those early bites are a pleasure, awash with the sort of classic dishes that make the presence of those several eggs Benedict variations come as a bit of shock.

The Benedicts are done Nat’s style — along with the corned beef hash Benedict, there’s a turkey sausage Benedict, a California Benedict with avocado, and a lox Benedict. And, of course, the original Canadian bacon Benedict.

But despite those bits of modernism, this is a menu dominated by admirable classicism. Even less traditional coffee shop dishes feel classic — like the mix-and-match chilaquiles options, where you choose a salsa, and a meat, to go with the fried corn tortillas scrambled with eggs and onions.

I think of chilaquiles as the Mexican equivalent of Jewish matzoh brie, which also is on the menu, made with matzoh instead of tortillas, and available for a little extra with salami and onions — as much a dish from the old country as the chilaquiles.

Mostly, this is where you go for freshly baked cinnamon rolls and muffins; for a pair of eggs cooked any style (over easy for me, thank you); for bacon, sausage, ham, beef patties or turkey bacon; and for a terrific choice of ultra-crispy home fries, hash browns, Tater Tots or grits — yup, grits, just like Down South. And not expected at all.

Fries topped with bacon

Barbie-Q (15928 Ventura Blvd., Encino; 818-616-3020, sits in a medium-sized Encino mall where you have to walk past a fountain to get to the shop for food described as “Sweet Sassy BBQ.”

I love the logo, which thank goodness does not involve Barbie, friend of Ken; that would be a cross-cultural bridge too far. And it isn’t just the location that sets Barbie-Q apart from the usual ‘que joint. In this case, the menu leans heavily toward sandwiches, some of which are notably outlandish. Like the “Cheat Day,” which involved a Polish sausage, mac and cheese, bacon and barbecue sauce on a toasted hoagie. Cheat day? Nah – just a day sleeping on the couch.

There are 10 sandwiches in all, ranging from a pulled pork with coleslaw number, through a Polish Boy and Polish Girl (he has barbecue sauce, she has maple aioli), down to a quartet of Reubens, including a “Rainbow Reuben” of turkey and corned beef, Swiss, slaw and Russian dressing on toasted rye. Sweet!

There are five types of fries as well, including one topped with bacon, mac and barbecue sauce; and another with Buffalo chicken and bacon. In diet-conscious Encino! And yes, bunky — they’ve got baby backs and a rib and wing combo. Even a chicken Caesar salad. Which would be nice to eat sitting by the fountain — like Italy with ‘que.

Kosher bacon

Psy Kosher Street Kitchen (15030 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; 747-264-0591) sits in a Ventura Boulevard mini-mall that also includes a sushi place, a ramen shop, a menu eatery, a Hawaiian stop, a vegetarian joint, a check cashing place, a Starbucks and much more — a very busy mini.

Psy sits in the back, easy to miss, not especially obvious at first glance — and it’s notably closed Friday night, and all day Saturday, to observe the Sabbath. But by Sunday night, the place is near out of control, with the staff putting burgers and stuff together in the open kitchen at frightening speed. Multiple burgers cook on the grill, a long line a buns are set up, a small salad is arranged on every plate.

The burgers are fine, I’ve got no complaints. But what intrigues is that, along with the beef burger flavored with thousand island dressing, there’s a kingdom of variations on the theme. In fact, beef on bun is a minor player here — though often ordered. There’s a kebab burger, a Sloppy Joe burger, a lamb burger, a grilled chicken burger, a spring chicken burger, a breaded schnitzel burger, a miso salmon burger, a portobello mushroom burger, a falafel burger. You can get them with deep-fried portobello mushrooms, wings, roasted cauliflower flavored with tahini, a baked spud — or the aforementioned Eggplant Mess, which is “charred eggplant with a mess of sauces.”

I really like the pickled cabbage that comes with the burgers. And the optional topping of spicy Turkish salad, which is like a chopped Israeli salad, but not quite.

For those in need, there’s “kosher bacon” and vegan cheese. Is it bacon? Well…it is if you want it to be. As with vegan bacon, it’s only as baconnish as you’re willing to believe. And if you’re kosher, the possibility of eating bacon — even if it’s “bacon” — can certainly inspire.

(You’ll also find kosher bacon at Roladin Bakery & Café, 19365 Victory Blvd., Reseda; 818-345-3443,

Merrill Shindler is a Los Angeles-based freelance dining critic. Email [email protected].

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