The Unvegan

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A Little Dip at the Salty Sow
Arizona Taco Fest 2017
Chomping Down on Chompie’s

‘Santa Monica’

Burgers, Bourbon + Beer 2017

 

Can’t have burgers without beers.

Just like last fall, Los Angeles Magazine decided the world needed Burgers, Bourbon + Beer and thus brought some purveyors of these delicious “B” digestibles to the Victorian in Santa Monica to determine who could win the Burger Battle. Many of the players from the previous edition had changed, and those who hadn’t changed up their burgers anyway, so I dove headfirst into the burgers, with a quick can of beer from Golden Road to lubricate my senses. Highlights below!

Semi-South at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern

Oh so shiny.

A short time ago, Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern opened up a location in Santa Monica. On it’s own, this can be seen as a good thing, but an even better thing is that I was invited out to check the place out and give it a review. I happily accepted and set off for the place where the land meets the sea (well almost, Jimmy’s is a few blocks inland).

Tender is the Night at Via Veneto

Succulent balls of meat.
Succulent balls of meat.

It’s not often that a fancy restaurant like Via Veneto invites you to check them out as a blogger. But alas, I found myself a few tables away from Zach Galifianakis ready to take down some of the fanciest Italian food in Santa Monica. It began with a couple of glasses of champagne and then we moved on to the real deal.

Burgers, Bourbon + Beer 2016

Flaming up good.
Flaming up good.

There was a time when Diners, Drive-ins and Dives was pretty much the best food-related alliteration. Then came Los Angeles Magazine’s Burgers, Bourbon + Beer, laying out some of the best consumable things in the world. The event took place in Santa Monica at The Victorian and showcased a number of bite-sized burgers (no, not sliders), a few bourbons and beers from Golden Road. Oh, and there was ice cream, chocolate and music as well. But you’re at Unvegan.com, which means everything took a back stage to the burgers. Better yet, this was a competition, so instead of just mass-producing burgers, these were all cooked to perfection. Not even I could eat all of them, but I did my damnedest.

Back to Belcampo, Santa Monica-Style

Literally what it is called.
Literally what it is called.

Once upon a time, I brought you Belcampo’s burger from the Grand Central Market in Downtown LA. It was a solid burger and one that I would absolutely eat again. Yet, when I found myself armed with a gift card sent to me by the good folks at Belcampo themselves*, I just had to make my way to the Santa Monica location for a full-on DineLA Restaurant Week experience.

Breaking Eggs at Courtyard Kitchen

Who the hell put arugula in this?!
Who the hell put arugula in this?!

Courtyard Kitchen in Santa Monica is not in a Courtyard by Marriott hotel. In fact, it is actually in a courtyard, which makes the restaurant itself pretty unique even if it’s name is simply a description of what it is. It was said to have a solid brunch, so I found myself all the way on the west side of town at an ungodly hour hoping to eat some sort of culinary revelation.

Mm Mm Good at M Street

Some sort of benedict.
Some sort of benedict.

Eggs Benedict is pretty well-known for being one of the greatest breakfast creations of all time. Yet, it is not without faults. After all, the English muffin is probably the worst of all muffins and not even great in the realm of breads. But M Street (a Lettuce Entertain You place) in Santa Monica has a solution for this nonsense: hash browns.

Hungry for Burger at The Hungry Cat

Apparently they serve seafood.
Apparently they serve seafood.

At the edge of Santa Monica is a little seafood restaurant creatively named The Hungry Cat. Without reservations, we were seated at the oyster shucking bar, which is possibly the best location for multiple reasons. First and foremost was that we got to watch oysters being shucked all night. Second was that we got to get a look at some great-looking lobster (see first image). And third was that I got to be buds with the shucker of the night.

Rustic Canyon, City Prices

No crazy toppings here.
No crazy toppings here.

I had always heard that Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica has a great burger, but the $18 price tag kept me from going for a long time. Eventually I was rescued by a parent visit and only had eyes for the burger. Of course, there wasn’t a lot of competition with the rest of the menu. Some things looked good, but it was hard to find an item free from vegetables, including the burger itself. But Rustic Canyon does something pretty unique with its burgers.

Pleasantly Surprised by Rick’s

Pretzel bun FTW
Pretzel bun FTW

Rick’s Tavern on Main has historically been a divey, somewhat gross college bar. And let’s be honest, on a typical Friday or Saturday night it still is. But after a long bike ride, I found myself at Rick’s for lunch with astronomically low expectations. Don’t get me wrong here, I love me some dive bar food and I’ll take it over a snooty restaurant any day, but I literally knew nothing of Rick’s aside from its ability to cure sobriety.