Samuel L. Jackson said it best (as he so often does…) in Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece of a film, Pulp Fiction, over 20 years ago: “Mm hmmm. This is a tasty burger!”
Yes. Yes it is. Hell yeah, I am talking about Stout Burgers and Beers. It is beyond perfect, and I would bet it even rivals QT’s dreamed-up Big Kahuna burger.
DTLA food scene
There are lots of burger joints and restaurants that are worthy contenders for that sought-after heavyweight crown of “L.A.’s best burger”: Father’s Office, in N out, Petite Trois, Plan Check, Public School 818, and many others. Every year, more lists are published in various magazines and books, each claiming to be the definitive one – the guide, the bible, the purveyor of direction and ascension, en route to Los Angeles’s best burger.
You know what? Everything is subjective, and this can’t be truer than when it comes to talking about food. We all differ in our likings, tastes, and appeals. It is part of what makes us who we are. And you know what else? All of those other burgers are fine in my book – honestly. They each have unique things about them, and they are made by people who care about making burgers.
Nothing – I mean nothing – could have prepared me for the experience of tasting Stout’s amazing creations. Stout has three locations, all in Cali (Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Studio City). If the ones in Santa Monica and Studio City come even close to the one I visited in Hollywood – I have no doubt that we are dealing with something which is the very definition of awesome.
Best Burgers in Los Angeles
I arrived at Stout Burger in Hollywood (1544 Cahuenga Blvd) after a night of partying. It was about 3 in the morning, and I was… well, let’s just say I was ready for some good food, for various reasons.
First off, I could not believe I had not been there before. I felt as if I was held out on some secret. I was particularly pissed off at the friend that I arrived at the party (and the subsequent burger) with, for not telling me just how good this place was sooner. I mean, on the one hand he had introduced me to Stout, which is now officially my choice for the best burger in L.A. But, on the other hand, he knew about the awesomeness of this place for a good while, and said nothing. And on yet another hand, the party we went to was pretty sick, and he drove us there and back. I guess what I am trying to say is, “thanks Steve. I owe you one.”
Stout burgers & beers
We walked into Stout, and sat down at the bar. Since it was the middle of the night – or the middle of the morning, depends on who you ask – Steve told me to get the “morning after” burger, and also (hot damn!) sweet potato fries. Immediately when I saw they had it on the menu, I ordered a Weihenstephan. It is my favorite imported wheat beer, bar none. It doesn’t go with everything, but it sure as hell went with this monster of a burger.
The food and beer arrived. Out comes this huge patty, with bacon, egg, cheddar, and chipotle ketchup. When I took a bite out of the bun, it was like a scene from Jaws. I devoured that thing with enthusiasm, and took no prisoners. The beer blended perfectly with it, and the fries were just about the best side dish I had tasted in a while. They were done with skill, and you could feel that someone who knows what they are doing was working on the creations coming out of the kitchen.
Steve got a Goombah burger (which reminded me of Super Mario Bros. and caused me to laugh out loud in the middle of the pub, like a deranged dumbass). The Goombah looked great. It had parmesan, mozzarella, and prosciutto, along with a kickass lemon basil aioli. We split the side of sweet potato fries, since the portion was pretty big.
The thing is, it is possible that a layman could think “what’s so special about making burgers, fries, and beer?” But no, hell no. There is a lot of skill involved. Anyone can cook a burger, but it takes a special hand and certain direction to do it well. This is why a place like Stout – and any other respectable burger place – has an executive chef, and not some shmoe, working in the kitchen. The burger came out medium rare, succulent, juicy, and mouth-wateringly good. It was the culinary equivalent of a well-timed climax, and the best part is that if I wanted I could go again, immediately. Well, I didn’t. I went home, got some much-needed rest, and when I woke up I did some research.
Stout opened up in 2009 in Hollywood, and then two more places opened up. It was opened by Charles Lew and Chef Alexandros Kagianaris. The two wanted to create the neighborhood pub, redefined. All three locations have choices of bottles and drafts from around the world, as well as local California micro-breweries. They wanted a casual spot, where people from all walks of life – club-goers and gourmet burger connoisseurs alike – could get together in a comfortable atmosphere that isn’t categorized as a lounge or high class bar.
Well, that is exactly what they got. Stout is a place where everyone can feel comfortable, no matter what their level of knowledge in beers, wines, or burgers is. The staff was friendly, and my friend and I had a blast.
“I’ll Be Back!”
I went back shortly after that to the same place, in Hollywood. This time I wanted to try the Low and Slow chicken burger. By the way, other than beef and chicken, there are also two veggie options, made with a base of quinoa and beans.
The chicken burger was different. It reminded me of why I usually prefer beef patties when it comes to burgers, but the chicken burger was great nonetheless. I ordered a side of beer-battered onion rings, which were crispy and tender. They are seriously a must try! I also had a dessert this time – a brownie sundae. Holy hell. Once again, I was not expecting it when I put it in my mouth. It was amazing, and I savored every small bite. That climax analogy fits here as well, without a doubt, more so in this case, since it came at the end of the meal.
What I want to do is go to the other two locations, and see if there is one that is better than the other. I should think not, but it would be great to visit the other two locations and eat different types of burgers in each. I would honestly love to try the Imperialist burger, as well as the SHU burger. The SHU sounds like it would be perfect for anyone who has a hot-spice-loving palate (of which I am guilty), and the Imperialist – with its aged cheddar and roasted tomatoes – sounds like something that has to be good. I was actually considering it during my second visit, but went with the chicken burger instead, since I felt like switching things up a little.
Stout also serves several salads, but I honestly saw no reason to burden myself with a salad. Why push the boundaries of perfection, right? In the two times I was there, there was a great vibe, good service, wonderful food, and a feeling of “where have you been all my life?”
Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of knowledge when it comes to meats, beers, and wines, myself. But I do know what I like, and I know damn well what tastes good to me. Some people honestly don’t get it. They would rather just go to McDonald’s. Well, yeah, this place is a bit pricier than McDonald’s (to say the least), and there is a good reason for that. After all, this isn’t a fast food joint. This is a restaurant, where they prepare the food in house, serve fresh ingredients, and have a credentialed chef in the kitchen. Anyone who would make such a comparison, no matter the circumstances, is a culinary ignoramus. It is a burger of such high quality that even using it in the same sentence or paragraph as “McDonald’s” seems unworthy and shameful. At any rate, I have never made such comparisons. The people who would equate Stout’s burger with a fast food one would probably bite into a Stout and not even feel the difference.
Like I said, there are many other burgers in L.A. that could fight for the title of “best burger.” There is always the chance that I will find some other place that will steal my heart and cause me to ramble on and on like I am doing now. No doubt about that. For now, however, that place is Stout. It has a place in my heart, and it certainly has a place in my stomach. The best burger in Los Angeles.