L.A.’s love affair with the burger began in the 1930s and 1940s with the introduction of classic burger establishments like Bob’s Big Boy in 1936, Tommy’s in 1946, Apple Pan in 1947, Fatburger in 1947, Cassell’s in 1948, In-N-Out in 1948, and, of course, McDonald’s, which opened in 1940 and became a burger stand in 1948.
They paved the way for a group of chefs who are doing all sorts of amazing and wonderful things with burgers today. Umami Burger, with locations all over L.A., specializes in ingredients have been carefully selected to optimize our response to glutamate. Glutamate is the component in food that creates the umami flavor, which is distinct savory flavor present in foods like cheese, soy sauce, tomatoes, and mushrooms. We ranked every Umami because why wouldn’t you?
The falafel patty comes with beet-infused couscous, avocado, lettuce, tomato, tzatziki, and pickled red onion. The falafel itself is noteworthy. It’s got a crunchy exterior, it’s seasoned well, and it doesn’t feel greasy at all. This meatless option doesn’t quite hit the spot as a burger and leaves us wanting to substitute the bun with pita bread.
If you’re the type to order a salad at a burger joint, this burger is right up your alley. It’s a turkey burger with avocado, green cheese, lettuce, sprouts, and green goddess dressing. Compared to the others, this one is a bit bland and dry. But the allure of this burger is in its bright, fresh green flavors.
13. Ahi Tuna
This one isn’t as exciting as the misoyaki butterfish burger, but it’s no less tasty. The ahi tuna patty is perfectly seared and comes with daikon sprouts, crushed avocado, gingered carrots, wasabi flake, and a wasabi tartar. Although the tuna flavor is mild, the wasabi and gingered carrots do a fine job of waking up your taste buds.
The hatch burger is topped with roasted hatch chiles, cheese, and garlic aioli. Don’t shy away from this burger if you don’t like spicy food. The heat level of these hatch chiles is mellow. But if heat is what you seek, ask for some of their diablo sauce to kick it up.
11. Misoyaki Butterfish
That melt-in-your-mouth feeling of the misoyaki butterfish is delightful. The succulent tempura butterfish is accompanied by soy-soaked pepper relish, pickled carrot and daikon, daikon sprouts, and sesame aioli. Varying textures of the crispy fried batter, velvety fish, and crunchy carrot and daikon make this a surprisingly satisfying pescatarian burger.
The K-BBQ burger is full of bold Korean flavors. It’s got a gochujang glaze, caramelized kimchi, sesame aioli, Korean ketchup, and a scallion cilantro salad on top. The funkiness of the kimchi is muted, but the whole flavor profile is dynamic–salty, sweet, spicy–and nicely balanced.
Can there be too much of a good thing? The Truffle burger walks a fine line. The single patty is covered in truffle cheese, truffle aioli, and truffle glaze–truffle on truffle on truffle. Without any other ingredients to balance out the truffle assault, the truffle flavor is assertive, borderline aggressive.
8. Sunny Side
The only thing more decadent than truffle on a burger is runny egg yolk. This burger has both. There’s more than a hint of truffle–truffle thyme compound butter, truffle arugula, and truffle aioli. The burger is topped off with a crispy, runny egg. If you thought sopping up egg yolk with a burger was good, try doing it with a truffled burger.
7. Sam’s Crispy Chicken
You’ll be impressed by how juicy the inside is and how crispy the outside is. The chicken is served on top of a bed of special sauce and pickles, topped with a heap of creamy coleslaw. The lightness of the chicken and crisp, fresh flavors of the pickles and coleslaw will fill you up but won’t make you feel meat-heavy.
Their namesake is their original umami bomb. The fixin’s on this burger are packed with umami flavor–the parmesan frico, mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, and their signature ketchup. With all these ingredients, this burger has supreme levels of glutamate. The textures are just as bold as the umami flavors–soft tomato, chewy mushrooms, and crispy parmesan.
This is the burger that turned the food world on its head earlier this year. The Impossible burger patty is plant-based and sustainable. These patties, although vegetarian, bleed like meat. (Science!) Umami’s Impossible burger is built like the Cali burger with double patties, double cheese, sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Upon further inspection, the texture and flavor of the patties, while similar, isn’t quite identical to meat, but the burger as a whole is delicious.
The Cali is like a gourmet version of the In-N-Out double double. It comes with two patties, two slices of melted cheese, house sauce, lettuce, roasted tomato, and caramelized onion. It’s oozing with so much cheese, sauce, and burger juices. Ask for more napkins.
The royale burger is intense. There’s a big pile of juicy short ribs on top of the burger patty, which is dripping with truffle cheese, truffle aioli, and truffle glaze. The hunks of short ribs are fall-apart tender and give this burger a rich beefiness, accented by the indulgent truffle flavors.
The only thing I didn’t love about this burger is the name. The ingredients aren’t so much manly as they are divine, and you certainly don’t have to be masculine to enjoy this one. The patty is covered in beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, and crispy onion strings. It’s meaty, salty, fatty, and totally excessive.
The throwback is Umami Burger’s homage to the classic drive-thru cheeseburger. Think of it like a Happy Meal but for grown folks. This burger features a refined translation of the traditional condiment combination of ketchup, mustard, and pickles. It’s made with two patties, white cheddar cheese, their signature Umami ketchup, miso mustard, soy pickles, and caramelized onions. It’s the most simplistic burger on the menu, but the layers of flavors (all of which are familiar yet new at the same time) are anything but simple.