Existence of Shake shack on Santa Monica reminds me of how burgers have gotten fancier and more expensive since I moved to WeHo 50 years ago. Still, we have plenty of options in and around town, so you don’t have to travel far to indulge your burger cravings.
I found my personal burger heaven just months after moving to West Hollywood when Astro burger opened in Santa Monica. The earliest version of this restaurant was take away only. I remember standing in line behind Peter Fonda, who I had a huge crush on after watching “Easy Rider”. Astro Burger was pretty busy from the start and later added a room to sit on. My favorite Astro Burger plurge is the rye patty melt with grilled onions and a side of fried onion rings. When I get this feast home there is always a greasy print on the bottom of the bag, a sure sign that something tasty but not particularly healthy is waiting in it.
I discovered Fatburger In the mid-seventies, when I had PR clients who were absolutely thrilled, especially late at night after a show. The burgers were reasonably bold and sloppy, but never really my favorite. Around the same time, I was introduced to a restaurant in Highland called Hamptons that was a favorite of the music business crowd. The main attraction of Hampton’s was that they made each burger to order and offered a wide variety of condiments. Unfortunately, the Hamptons closed many years ago.
While some burger chains make a varied and frequently changing menu their attraction, one of the most successful from SoCal lives on simplicity. For decades the In and out Burger locations all had the same handful of items with no “new” specials or seasonal offers. Obviously, this formula worked for the chain as it keeps expanding. There was no in-and-out in the WeHo area for years, so I had to indulge my cravings in the Valley, but we finally got a location nearby, a few blocks outside the city limits on Sunset Blvd. next to Hollywood High. As if this intersection wasn’t congested enough, cars are bumper to bumper almost anytime in In-and-Out. I lived around the corner from this burger place for a couple of years and visited regularly until I moved back to downtown WeHo. Just avoid the place where classes in Hollywood Hgh end.
This brings me to the most popular and iconic burger emporia in our city – Irv’s burger. Immortalized in a David Lee Roth song and on the inside fold-out page of the Linda Ronstadt album cover, Irv’s stood near the corner of Santa Monica and Sweetzer until sweeping “progress” forced owner Sonia and her family out of the compact property. I live close enough to old Irv’s to get a delivery, so I especially miss their delicious burgers, which are served in bags that Sonia has personally decorated for each customer. Irv’s, you are loved and missed.
No burger lover will mention it MC Donalds as a standout example of the dish, but the gigantic chain remains a guilty treat, the place to go quickly and easily after a night out – or everything else is closed. The dangerous drive through at Crescent Heights and Sunset was a popular stop after a night on the Strip and will be missed if it falls on the wrecking ball, which could happen any day now.
Hardcore vegans and health nuts aside, who doesn’t love a good burger every now and then? Unfortunately, it costs a lot more than it used to to get your burger fix in WeHo.