Burger Week at The Oinkster, which started today, is a gluttonous annual tradition flocked to by L.A. meat lovers far and wide. Some, as you may know, even consider it a call to arms, taking on the “Burger Challenge” by eating all seven of the featured specials—they accumulate wristbands to prove their triumph and are awarded a shirt upon their last order.
This year’s creations are all Hollywood themed, referencing films and television shows. Inspired by The Simpsons, the week’s first burger, The Klogger, is a double Angus beef burger dressed with melty house-made cheese, applewood smoked bacon, bourbon-bacon jam, “bacon’d burger dressing,” and raw onions. It’s also served with a side of “pork rind dust,” which adds another layer of luscious intensity that you would have never guessed The Klogger was missing.
Though I’ve never done the challenge myself, I found it only fitting that I should start my own Burger Week (I usually stop in for two or three every year) with someone who has. This is the fourth year my friend Mark Encinias has opted to eat every burger. He has the home-field advantage of living walking distance from the A-framed restaurant, so he’s able to beat the long lines and avoid parking confrontations. For this Burger Week veteran, The Klogger was a hit.
“This one is delicious. It’s a really good first day,” says Mark, who was also a big fan of the Red Tick beer, a special limited-edition amber ale that The Oinkster collaborated on with Highland Park Brewery for this, its fifth annual Burger Week.
When I asked Mark what his favorite Burger Week offering of all time has been, he groans.
“That’s a hard one because the Bob’s Big Boy one [in 2013] was really good, and the Western Bacon Cheeseburger [from 2012] was out of control. You’d have to put a gun to my head to get an answer,” he says.
With six more days of burger insanity yet to conquer, perhaps that answer will be complicated by another burger or two. Here’s the rest of the lineup, including the Hollywood inspiration and the day’s drink special for each.
Tuesday: Atomic Hot Pepper Burger
Angus-beef patty with a cheddar filled jalapeño popper, marinated red pepper, house-made chorizo nacho cheese, chipotle garlic aioli, shredded lettuce, chopped onion, and tomato on a kaiser bun. Inspired by Dumb & Dumber. The drink special is Boylan’s Shirley Temple soda, a favorite of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne.
Wednesday: Bet It All on Black Garlic
Angus-beef patty topped with black garlic cream cheese, black garlic aioli, onion, and mixed baby greens on a black garlic butter-toasted black burger bun.Inspired by Bob’s Burgers. The drink special is Linda’s Margarita Mix, which is really fresh lemonade, no tequila included.
Thursday: Grill ‘Em All’s Ulti-meatum
Angus-beef patty with house-cured Oinkster pastrami, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, blue cheese coleslaw, and Himalayan ketchup on a pan de sal bun. Inspired by Regular Show. The drink special is the Mississippi Queen, a ginger-spiced lemonade.
Friday: Red Castle Sliders
This is owner Andre Guerrero’s favorite of the week. A duo of onion-cooked Angus-beef patties with American cheese, pickles, and mayo on steamed buns. Inspired by Harold and Kumar. The drink special is The Oinkster’s version of an Orange Julius.
Saturday: The Big Kahuna
Angus-beef Patty with charred pineapple, kalbi-marinated Spam, kimchi pickles, green curry mayo, and house-made teriyaki sauce on a pan de sal bun. Inspired by Pulp Fiction. The drink special is POG Juice, which mixes passion-fruit, pineapple, orange, and guava juices.
Sunday: Krabby Patty
Fried shrimp-and-crab patty with house-made cocktail and tartar sauces, butter lettuce, and tomato on a sesame seed bun. Inspired by SpongeBob SquarePants. The special drink is Kelp Juice, a.k.a. kelp lemonade.
For all those considering taking the challenge this week, Mark has two tips to make it through: make sure your non-burger meals are healthy and don’t forget to exercise. He’s taking his own advice and eating a salad for dinner tonight.
The Oinkster, 776 Vine St., 323-536-9248; 2005 Colorado Blvd., 323- 255-6465. Both locations will be participating in Burger Week this year.