Over in West LA, there is a burger place called Hamburger Habit. As I habitually consume burgers, the place sounded just perfect for me. The exterior of the joint loudly displays an award given to it by KABC as the best burger in Southern California. The interior is also full of awards, but unfortunately the most recent date back to the Clinton Administration. Still, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Did Hambuger Habit start churning out terrible burgers or did they just get left in the dust by newer LA burgers?
When we walked in, I was shocked to find the place completely empty. Despite being a Sunday at 2:00 pm, I assumed we wouldn’t be the only late lunch stragglers. A quick glance at the menu revealed a ton of menu items containing vegetables, so I decided to go off the menu and order a simple cheeseburger, plain. Then I topped it off with an order of chili cheese fries. The man wrote my order on two plates, handed me the queen of hearts, called me the queen of hearts and then charged me an even ten bucks for the order. He also handed me caramel lollipop, which I took to a table with my queen. My buddy was given the king of clubs, and seemed to instantly become part of the Hamburger Habit family. Too bad he wasn’t the one with the food blog.
A few minutes later, our cards were called and we grabbed our food. I looked disappointingly at the two pickles upon my plate and instantly slid my burger away from them. Fortunately, they hadn’t been violated by pickle juice and I had no intention of risking the burger any further. With the pickle crisis behind me, I got a good look at the burger. Inside was some melty white American cheese and a decently thick fast food-esque frozen patty. On the outside was a similarly fast food-style sesame seed bun that totally engulfed the burger.
I threw on a bit of ketchup and dug in. The result was exactly what I expected from the looks of it. Not a bad burger, but also not an especially good one. This was something I felt I could have easily made at home, but I probably could have done better. The bun was a bit dry, and so was some of the burger. There was nothing really special about the patty and the white American cheese, while a nice twist on that yellow stuff, didn’t add much to the burger.
The chili cheese fries were definitely better than the burger, and maybe the burger could have done better with some chili on top. The chili was pretty meaty and the fries were crisp enough to handle the chili without getting soggified. While good, they didn’t exactly blow me away and comparable chili cheese fries can certainly be found at better burger places.
In general, this was a disappointment and I could totally understand why the place hadn’t won an award in over a decade. Perhaps burgers like this were awesome in the ’90s and certainly the prepubescent version of myself would have loved this burger back then, but tastes and burgers have evolved since then. The retro ’50s diner thing is awesome, but I’d rather be eating a burger for the 2000s.