Buffalo is still considered an exotic meat in the USA. Never mind the fact that bison are native to these lands and the cattle we chow on come from Europe and Asia. And because it is “exotic” it often fetches a high price at restaurants and is given the gourmet treatment. This is not the case at Billy’s Grill, a tiny diner-style joint in Sherman Oaks.
At Billy’s you can get lamb, buffalo, ostrich and venison burgers all for under eight bucks. They fall under the exotic section of the menu, but aren’t given any special treatment beyond that. They are served up in classic California fashion with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and thousand island. As you can probably guess from above, I opted for the buffalo and without any of those normal ingredients. Instead I went with bacon and American cheese. I upped it to a combo with fries and a drink, then watched as my buffalo was cooked on the griddle and served.
It came in a fast food-style sesame seed bun and looked the fast food part. I went to work on it and found that for better or worse it tasted a whole lot like a regular burger. I’m going to go ahead and say that this was for the better. After all, the biggest issue I’ve ever had with buffalo is that it often comes out much drier than regular beef. This is because it is less fatty, but this really wasn’t noticeable at Billy’s. In fact, my biggest gripe was with the bun, which was far too thick for a burger such as this. Perhaps with something juicier it would have been necessary, but that is never a problem for buffalo.
The fries made for a nice buffalo partner. They had been nicely seasoned and fried up to a near well-done state, which is how I like my fries.
Billy’s Grill is a refreshing burger place that manages to combine exotic burgers with the feel of old timey fast food. It’s nice to see such a place and to also be reminded just how similar buffalo is to regular beef. There’s really no need to dress it up any differently.