If you live anywhere in LA and are part of the “downtown scene”, it’s safe to say that you’ve heard about the happening gastropub known as “Fathers Office”. One of Chef Sang Yoon’s three shining works of art, this pub is one of the most popular bar & burger places in town.
How it Came About
Father’s Office was established in 1953 by one of Southern California’s early adopters of the craft beer movement. The pub was one of the first bars to offer all of Anchor Brewing’s beers in the 1970s and 80’s. Most of California’s first wave of micro-brews could be found on tap, including Sierra Nevada, Anderson Valley, and Anchor Brewing.
I know you’re probably surprised to hear how long this place has been around. I myself had never heard about Father’s Office until just a few years ago. The reason for that is because it wasn’t always as big as it is today.
Father’s Office was purchased in 2000 by owner and head chef Sang Yoon, who had previously cooked gourmet California cuisine at Michael’s restaurant in Santa Monica, California. After working in other people’s restaurants, he finally decided it was time to open a place of his own. He took over a tiny, modest local bar called Father’s Office and added his own touches.
Yoon opened the bar’s kitchen, which had previously offered only cheese plates and a list of local delivery options for patrons to order in. The new main attraction turned out to be the Office Burger, a patty of fine dry-aged beef topped with caramelized onions, Gruyère and Maytag cheeses, applewood-smoked bacon compote, and arugula – all served on a soft roll.
Sang Yoon is infamous for allowing no substitutions or alterations of any type on the food served at Father’s Office. (He is also the founder of Lukshon, another of the local restaurants in the area which comes highly recommended.)
Good Vibes Inside and Out
Father’s Office has an old, retro look inside and out. When approaching the restaurant, it may first appear to be pretty small. However, when you step inside, you’ll feel like you’ve just entered a new world.
It’s set up to look like an old bar, but when you take a second glance, you’ll notice that everything there is actually pretty new. For example, the retro look of the wooden tables and chairs are meant to look old, but the wood is glossy, giving it a fresh feel.
I do have to say that the location in Culver City is awesome! Outdoor seating is abundant, and it’s adjacent to a walkway that looked like something you would find in Europe. The lighting and ambiance was simply perfect for a summer night.
Overall, it’s a bar setup, so there aren’t that many options of places to sit. You can sit at the bar itself, or at the tables they have inside and out. I personally think outside is nicer, because it’s less stuffy, but to each their own! Both are usually filled daily. It’s rare to find this bar empty due to its location and great reputation.
Seating wasn’t too difficult to get, and we were able to find a table outside. The bartenders all seemed really friendly and happy to be there, which is a definite huge plus. They were all wearing black shirts that said “F.O.” on them. My friends and I thought it was pretty funny, but let’s be honest… what else were they going to put on the shirt?
The music is always great at night, but understandably, you can expect it to get pretty loud. The crowd is pretty mixed, which makes it a good place for everyone to come and chill anytime of day.
Invention of the “Office Burger”
It’s no secret that Fathers Office is known for its famous Office Burger. What I wanted to know was what makes this burger SO much better then other burgers? How did it come about? I did some research and here’s what I found.
During his travles, Chef Yoon kept a diary of all the burgers that he’s eaten from all over the world. He put this info onto an excel spreadsheet, diagrammed all the different parts of the burger (bun, produce, meat, sauce etc.) and tried to put together all the different things he liked about each burger. After looking it over for a while, he noticed the common denominator and the thing he liked about each burger the most was the bacon.
Yoon found the mixture of ingredients that was going to make up his burger: French onion soup. His reason for this is that onion soup is made up of beef, bread, Guerra cheese, and sweet caramelized onions. Rather than drawing influence from other burgers, he was inspired by some of his favorite experiences with beef, and in particular with drayage rib.
Chef Yoon figured out a way to make his vision into a reality. Today, Father’s Office has its own designated room where it dry ages the meat. The secret is, they literally treat their meat like its being dry aged for steak. It’s not something which is so commonly known, because it’s a step that nobody else takes. The reason for this is that it’s incredibly costly and labor intensive. However, Yoon says that the whole process is what makes the burger the main part of the show.
More Than Just the Burgers
Although Father’s Office is mainly known for the Office Burger, it also serves a variety of different things to have with drinks.
Before I decide to spend my time and money on a bar or restaurant, I always want to take a look at the menu before I go to see two things:
- How varied the menu is, and
- How much it costs
I looked on their website to try and find the menu, but I was unsuccessful. The website didn’t provide very much info. I decided to take matters into my own hands and search to find the menu. I figured that I can’t possibly be the only one who wants to see what my options are before I go in. Below you’ll find the menu from Father’s Office. They have a bunch of really delicious side dishes and main dishes as well. So for those of you who thought they only served burgers? Think again.
Organic Brussels Sprouts $8.00
Smoked Eel $13.00
Steak Tartare $14.00
Duck Prosciutto Salad $11.00
Spicy Olives $5.00
Roasted Beef Marrow $11.00
Organic Beet Salad $10.50
Liberty Duck Confit Salad $13.00
Niman Ranch Pork Chop $19.00
Berbere Spiced Sonoma Lamb $11.00
Steak Au Poivre $19.00
The Office Burgers $12.50
Add Frites $2.50
Welser Farms Peewee Heurloom Potato $6.00
Spanish Mushrooms $5.00
Frites In A Basket $5.00
Sweet Potato Frites In A Basket $7.50
Ordering & Service
My friends and I seated ourselves at an outside table. We waited a while for someone to come and take our order, but lo and behold, nobody came up to us! Finally, I decided to go up to the bar and order myself. I asked for a waiter or waitress to come over to our table, but was told that the only place to order was at the bar. I thought that was a little weird, but it didn’t necessarily bother me so much. It’s just a good thing to be aware of, so you don’t wait around forever wondering why no one is coming to take your order!
I heard SO much about the famous Office Burger that I knew I had to try it. My friends all got different things and we shared a little bit of everything.
My Office Burger – caramelized onion, bacon, gruyere, maytag blue cheese, arugula, and the most amazing sauce. They recommend getting the burger medium rare, but I ordered medium, and it was still juicy and delicious! It’s a great combination of flavors and really filling. I have to say that the burger actually does live up to its name! I’ve never tasted such a delicious, well-made burger in my life. Some of my friends who tried mine actually went back to order one for themselves. It seems to be that everyone around me was eating the burger as well.
Something that I noticed was that I didn’t have the choice to put what I wanted on the burger. They give you the burger that they prepared, and if don’t like it, than you just have to take out all of the things that you don’t like. Putting things into perspective, I guess it makes sense, because at the end of the day its still a bar and not a fancy restaurant. If the staff sat around taking everyone’s exact orders and personalizing everything, the bar wouldn’t run as smoothly as it does.
On the side, I had fries and mushrooms. They were obviously nothing compared to the burger, but they were perfectly cooked and yummy to snack on with our drinks. The only thing I would change is the thickness of the fries. I feel they would’ve been 10x better if they were thicker.
ATTENTION KETCHUP LOVERS: there is NO ketchup served at Father’s Office! If you’re the type of person who can’t complete their meal without ketchup, I would suggest you find a way to bring your own. I don’t think it’s necessarily allowed, but I doubt that anyone will notice. My friends told me before I came in that there wouldn’t be any ketchup, so I made sure to bring my own little packet without showing anyone.
Believe it or not, Father’s Office actually has two different locations, one in LA and one in Santa Monica. Supposedly, they both serve the exact same things; the only difference is the display, size, and parking. The one in LA is 3x the size of the Santa Monica location, and in my opinion, also much nicer.
The gastropub concept is the same though: your ID is checked upon entering, and seating is first come-first served. Parking, as far as I know, is valet only. They do not have a structure and I do not recall seeing street parking. Valet parking is free, but don’t forget to tip! If you choose valet parking, make sure to get your car before 11pm – otherwise you’ll have to wait until the next day to get your car back.
The restaurant is in an interesting location, between a Room and Board and HD Buttercup. If someone were from out of town, they might mistakenly think that “Father’s Office” refers to one of the furniture/interior design stores. What you’ll find inside of Father’s Office isn’t an expensive piece of furniture, but a modern take on a place where a businessman (or businesswoman) would go after a long day, just to kick back and relax after a long workday.
Father’s Office has an awesome beer tap with so many options to choose from. They definitely had one of the biggest beer selections in LA, most of which I’ve never tried before. My beer was a bit dark but it was perfect with my meal. I really enjoyed their pear beer, raspberry beer, and orange cream beer. I was really able to enjoy myself drinking and eating my burger.
I also tried their martinis, which were okay, but I would stick with the beers. When I asked the bar tender to modify my drink, he said that he couldn’t. I didn’t mind so much because I just ordered another beer and let it slide.
I really only have great things to say about this place. Their food is phenomenal, service is great, and their drinks are awesome. I loved the atmosphere and vibes that they have going on there. I think it’s really important to have a place that feels chilled out and relaxing. I definitely felt that there.
The location is awesome and I love the free valet parking. Gives me one less thing to think about (and pay for)! Because it’s in such a central place, my friends and I go there pretty often to sit and relax.
Chef Yoon has really created a special atmosphere and awesome burger. I can’t wait to go to more of his restaurants! This gastropub is probably the best one I’ve ever been to in California. I highly recommend Father’s Office to anyone looking for great food, awesome service, chilled all-around vibes, and amazing beer!